Behavioral Science Theory: Meaning, Contribution and Limitations

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Behavioral Science Theory: Meaning, Contribution and Limitations

Behavioral Science Theory

This theory is a more developed version of the human relations approach that presents the idea that the manager should alter his approach to control people aspects according to the needs of individuals. In other words, the theory emphasizes on identifying human variables for the overall success of an organization. The behavioral scientists who contributed to shaping the behavioral approach are; Mary Parker Follett, Douglas Frederick Herzberg, Rensis Likert, Chris Argyris, and others. These behavioral scientists came from various social sciences like; psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. they used highly sophisticated research methods and developed an understanding of organizational behavior. The contributions of behaviorists are summarized as below;

Mary Parker Foilett (1868- 1933)

Follett was a political philosopher, social reform critical, and creative problem solver in the field of motivation and group processes. Her book ‘Dynamic Administration published in 1942 is a compilation of her paper’s speeches. Follett was one of the first to integrate the idea of organizational conflict into management theory, and is sometimes considered the “Mother of Conflict Resolution.” Mary Parker Follett advocated for a human relation and psychology emphasis equal to a mechanical or operational emphasis in industrial management. Her work contrasted with scientific management. Her work was mostly forgotten and is still largely neglected in studies of the evolution of management theory. Peter F. Drucker called her the “Prophet of Management” and his “Guru.”

Abraham Maslow (1908- 1970)

Maslow developed a model called Need Hierarchy Theory that evoked there are only five orders of human needs that could be used for workers’ motivation in the organization. These five needs are as mentioned below:

a. Physiological needs:- ‘Living Wage’ to purchase food and clothing.

b. Security needs:- Safe working conditions free from risk.

c. Social needs:- Need to social relationships and belongingness.

d. Esteem needs:- Sense of accomplishment, compensation, and reward.

e. Self-actualization needs-  Job that allows growth and creativity.

He further classified the above needs into two groups. He grouped psychological, security, and social needs into lower-order needs and esteem and self-actualization need into higher-order needs.

Douglas McGregor (1906- 1964)

McGregor, an American social psychologist is best known for his Theory X and Y. He published his book named ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’ in 1960. He believed that there two different kinds of people. The first kinds are observed with negative viewpoints and highly pessimistic. He named the first Theory X. And the other kinds are observed with positive viewpoints and considered optimistic He named them Theory Y. He developed these assumptions on the basis of the beliefs of managers towards their workers. The attitude revealed by workers is presented on the table.

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

Theory X Theory Y
The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can. Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organizational objectives. People apply self control and self direction in the pursuit of organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively un-ambitious, and wants security above all else. Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
McGregor indicates that the managers should use an authoritarian management style for theory X and a participative management style for theory Y. X-Type organizations tend to be top-heavy, with managers and supervisors required at every step to control workers. There is little delegation of authority and control remains firmly centralized. McGregor recognized that X-Type workers are in fact usually the minority, and yet in mass organizations, such as large-scale production environments, X Theory management may be required and can be unavoidable. This more participative management style tends to be more widely applicable. In Y-Type organizations, people at lower levels of the organization are involved in decision-making and have more responsibility.

Frederick Herzberg

Herzberg developed a model to motivation named the Motivation- Hygiene factor theory. The theory is also called the two-factor theory. He divided the theory into two different parts- motivation fac}or and hygiene factor. The motivation factor includes job satisfying elements like; recognition, achievement, responsibility, and challenges on the job. These presences of these elements on a job help satisfy the workers and thus the use of these factors motivate them and productivity results out. This factor is also called motivators or satisfiers. On the other hand, the hygiene factor includes working physical conditions, supervision, organizational policies, and procedure. The absence of these factors from a job increases the dissatisfaction level of a worker and even their presence does not increase the level of motivation. Therefore these factors are called dissatisfies.

Contributions of Behavioral Science Theory

The contributions of behavioral science theory are as mentioned below:

1. The theory developed an understanding of organizational behavior and laid foundations for further development in the field of industrial psychology.
2. The theory suggested managers that individual workers react differently or indifferently to the same situations. Thus the managers should tailor their attempts to influence people based on their needs.
3. It also recognized that organizational conflict plays a major role and influences the performance of an entire organization.
4. The behaviorists emphasized the need for flexible organization structures and human rationality in decision making.

Limitations of Behavioral Science Theory

1. This has given more emphasis to non-economic aspects and ignored the importance of economic aspects.
2. The theory is fond of learning human behavior and predicting behavioral outcomes. But this not so easy.
3. The theory considers studying human factors for managerial undertakings. This represents only the partial viewpoint of management.

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