About Us  :  Online Enquiry


Comparison of Human Relations School with the Classical School

Comparison of Human Relations School of Thought with the Classical School

Human Relations Theory of George Elton Mayo is basically built upon the successes and not on the failures of classical theory i.e. it is not that the ideas of the structural school of thought were totally discarded by the scholars of the Human Relations Theory. Instead, the pillars of classical school i.e. order, rationality, structure of organisation, equity etc., were only modified to suit the changed needs of the times.

The classical school created organisations that had been successful in satisfying the basic economic needs of only the management. The Human Relations School of Thought then focussed attention on the social needs of the organisation.

The two theories are basically two shades of the feelings of the workers and are in essence complementary to each-other. A worker’s feelings, it was observed, may become prominent only when he has enough to eat. So far he does not have feeling of job security and stability in life, generally his social needs do not come to the surface.

Overall, it can be said that the classical school provides a first approximation to the organisational development, while the Human Relations School of Thought provides a second Approximation to the organisational development. Hence, generally speaking, the two theories do not negate each other.

However, there are some basic differences between the two theories —

  1. The Classical School of Thought rests on the basic assumption of the nature of man as “Economic man” who is moved by economic rewards only. This theory hence gave economic incentives to motivate the workers. The Human Relations School of Thought, however, believes that the social settings of the work place shape the behaviour of the employees in the organisation. It hence rests on the assumption of the nature of the man as “Social Man” and states that `Man does not live by bread alone’. Therefore in order to motivate him, social factors should be tackled.
  2. The sole emphasis in the classical School of Thought was on the structural and mechanical aspects of the organisation and hence it is said that it viewed employees as merely the nuts and bolts in the organisational set up. Hence it is said that in the classical approach, the sole point of emphasis was the machine. The Human Relations School of Thought on the other hand emphasised that not only the machine but the man behind the machine is also as important as the machine.
  3. The classical school tackled individual level behaviour and advocated for authoritarian approach towards the management of organisational affairs i.e. it advocated the use of formal channels of control. The Human Relations School of Thought, however, tackled the organisational behaviour at the group level behaviour and advocated ‘Group discipline’ i.e. it advocated formal control methods as well as integration of social control (i.e. informal group control) into the formal control channels.
  4. Structural School (i.e. the Classical Approach) emphasised on the design of formal structure of organisation. The Human Relations School of Thought advocated the design of organisation in a manner such that it should integrate informal channels of authority with the formal channels of the organisation.
  5. While the classical school advocated the adoption of autocratic leadership style, the Human Relations school favoured the use of Democratic or participative leadership style where leaders consult the employees within the organisation on every matter and give due weightage to their opinion in their decisions.
  6. The classical school of thought favoured the upgradation of techniques and technology of the organisation to improve the efficiency of the organisation. However, the Human Relations School of thought advocates the exploiting of the ‘will’ of the employees i.e. it asks for motivating the employees through social motivations for improving the efficiency of the organisation.

Overall, the classical school of thought represents the technical side of an enterprise while the Human Relations Schools of Thought represents the Human side of the Enterprise.

Public Administration by G.Rajput

Send this to a friend