The central themes of both scientific management and classical organization theory are rationality, efficiency, and standardization. The roles of individuals and groups in organizations were either ignored altogether of given only minimal attention. A few early writers and managers, however, recognized the importance of individual and social processes in organizations.


In the early nineteenth century, Robert Owen, a British industrialist, attempted to improve the condition of industrial workers. He improved working conditions, raised minimum ages for hiring children, introduced meals for employees, and shortened working hours. In the early twentieth century, the noted German psychologist Hugo Munsterberg argued that the field of psychology could provide important insights into areas such as motivation and the hiring of new employees. Another writer in the early 1900s, Mary Parker Follett, believed that management should become more democratic in its dealings with employees. An expert in vocational guidance, Follett argued that organizations should strive harder to accommodate their employees` human needs.

The views of Owen, Mansterberg, and Follett, however, were not widely shared by practicing managers. Not until the 1930s did notable change occur in management`s perception of the relationship between the individual and the workplace. At that time, a series of now classic research studies led to the emergence of organizational behavior as a field of study.

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