The human relations theory

Human relations approach is one of the neo-classical theory. This theory was developed around 1920 and emerged out of the human relations movement. This movement laid greater on the man managing the machines and stressed the importance of individual as well as the group relationship. The theory emphasises the role of psychology and sociology in the understanding of individual as well as group behaviour in an organisation. Thus, what was advocated, was the relevance of the human values in an organisation.

It were Elton Mayo and his associates who conducted studies in the Hawthrone Works of Western Electric Company, Chicago, U. S A. between 1927 and 1932. The study covered more than 20,000 workers. These studies can be divided into four stages. By these studies, the researchers discovered many areas of the application of human relations approach. The researchers’ general conclusion was that non-logical behaviour or sentiments among workers must be considered along with economic and other logical factors as influencing the work group.

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This approach was advocated by them because of the following reasons :

(1) Employees in any organisation get satisfaction not by economic incentives but by the satisfaction of many other social and psychological wants, feelings desires and so on. (2) The business organisation itself is a social system or at least part of it. (3) In an organisation, it is ultimately cooperative attitude and not the mere command which yields results. (4) Management must aim at developing social and leadership skills in addition to technical skills. (5) In an organisation, morale and productivity go hand in hand. The approach was instrumental in effecting a new image of man and the work place.

After these studies, it was widely accepted that the organisation is a social system and the human factor is the most important element within it. More emphasis was placed on inter personal relations, leadership skills, human motivation etc. The approach evidenced that an organisation is not merely a formal arrangement of men and functions ; more than that it is a social system. The most serious criticism related to the research methodology employed. The theory is based upon small samples of human beings. Further, it lacks scientific validity and exhibits mysticism.

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