Behavioural Approach to Management ( With Criticism) (2023)


This school of management emphasizes the human element in an organization, duly recognizing its importance. It places more stress on individual attitudes and behaviors and on group processes. The major contributors to this school of thought are given in Table 2.3.

Mary Parker Follet:

Follet is the pioneer of behavioural approach to management. She recognized the significance of the human element and attributed greater significance to the functioning of groups in workplaces. As per Follet, the critical role of managers should be to bring about constructive changes in organizations, following the principle of ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’.


She opined that power should not be based on hierarchical levels but should be collec­tively developed to foster a cooperative concept that involves superiors and subordinates and enables them to work together as a team. Hence, the emphasis is more on power sharing. Organizations need to become democratic to accommodate employees and managers. Employees work harder when their organizations recognize their individual motivating desires.

Elton Mayo:

Even though Follet was the pioneer of the behavioural approach to manage­ment, it is Elton Mayo who is recognized as the father of the human-relations approach. Mayo and his associates conducted a study at the Western Electric’s Hawthorne Plant between 1927 and 1932 to evaluate the attitudes and psychological reactions of workers in on-the-job situations.

Contributor to behavioral theories


Mary Parker Follet (1868-1933) – Group influences

Elton Mayo (1880-1949) – Effect of human motivation on productivity and output

(Video) Behavioral Management theory-Human Relations Theory/Hawthorne Experiment

Abraham Maslow (1808-1970) – Relates human motivation to hierarchy of needs

Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) – Emphasizes on human characteristics theory X and theory Y and the corresponding style of leadership

Chris Argyris (1964) – Human and organizational development – Model I and Model II

Their experi­ments were carried out in the following four phases:

1. Illumination experiments

2. Relay assembly test room experiments


3. Interview phase

4. Bank wiring observation room experiment

Illumination Experiments:

These experiments took place, initially between 1924 and 1927, in the Hawthorne Plant of Western Electric Company, involving the company’s industrial engineers. The experiments involved manipulation of illumination for one group of workers (test group) and comparing their performance and productivity with another group for whom illumination was not manipulated (control group).

(Video) Criticisms of the Behavioral Approach


In the first spell of the experiments, the performance and productivity of the test group (for whom the illumination was manipulated) improved. However, this did not last long. In fact, the control group’s performance also improved in between, even though there was no change in the light conditions of this group.

With such contradicting results, researchers concluded that the intensity of illumination was not related to the productivity of workers. There must be something else besides illumination, which must have influenced the performance of the workers in Western Electric Company. Elton Mayo and his associates from Harvard University got involved at this point to conduct the subsequent phase of experiments.

Relay Assembly Test Room Experiments:

This set of experiments was conducted under the guidance of Elton Mayo between 1927 and 1933. At this stage, researchers were concerned about other working conditions like working hours, working conditions, refresh­ments, temperatures, etc. To start with, the researchers selected six women employees of the relay assembly test room.

Their job was to assemble a relay (a small device) using thirty-five spare parts. Selected women employees (samples) were put in a separate room and briefed about the experiments. In the test room, the variables like increased wages and rest period, shortened workday and workweek, etc. were altered.

In addition to this, the sample workers were also given the freedom to leave their workstations without per­mission and were also given special attention. Productivity increased over the study period. Such results led the researchers to believe that better treatment of subordinates made them more productive.

They highlighted the signifi­cance of social relations. Finally, researchers were convinced that workers would perform better if the management looked after their welfare and super­visors paid special attention to them. This syndrome was later labelled as the Hawthorne effect.

Interview Phase:


(Video) Behavioural science approach and its contributors (Maslow, Herzberg, McClelland, Likert)

In this phase of the experiments, about 21,000 people were interviewed over three years between 1928 and 1930. The purpose of the interview was to explore in depth the attitudes of the workers.

On the basis of the results of these interviews, the following conclusions were drawn:

1. A complaint may not necessarily be an objective recital of facts. It also reflects personal disturbance, which may arise from some deep-rooted cause.

2. All objects, persons, and events carry some social meaning. They relate to the employees’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

3. Workers’ personal situation is die result of a configuration of their rela­tionships, involving sentiments, desires, and interests. Such relational variables influence die workers’ own past and present interpersonal re­lations and result in their personal situations.

4. Workers assign meaning to their status in the organization and attach much importance to events and objects and specific features of their environment, such as hours of work, wages, etc.


5. Workers derive satisfaction or dissatisfaction from the social status of their organization. It means they also look for social rewards, in the form of an increase in their personal status, borne out of their associa­tion with an organization of repute.

6. Workers’ social demands are influenced by their social experiences within their groups, both inside and outside the workplace.

Bank Wiring Observation Room Experiment:

This part of the Hawthorne experiments was conducted to test some of the ideas that had cropped up during the interview phase. It was conducted between 1931 and 1932. In this experiment there were fourteen participants (samples), including wiremen, solder men, and inspectors.

In this phase of the experiment, there was no change in the physical working conditions. Payments to sample workers were based on an incentive pay plan, which related their pay to their outputs. Sample workers had the opportunity to earn more by increasing their outputs. However, die researchers observed that output was constant at a certain level.

Analysis of the results showed that the group encourages neither too much nor too little work. On their own, they enforce ‘a fair day’s work’. Group norms, therefore, are more important to workers than money is. The study thus provided some insights into die workers’ informal social relations within their groups.

(Video) Behavioral Management Approaches


The Hawthorne experiments therefore focused on the importance of human relations and thus contributed immensely to management theories.


Despite its brilliant contributions to the theories of management, the behavioural approach to management was criticized on the following grounds:

1. It is believed that procedures, analysis of the findings, and conclusions drawn from there are not linked to each other rationally. In fact, the conclusions are not supported by adequate evidence.

2. The relationship between satisfaction/happiness of the workers and pro­ductivity was established through simplistic assumptions, while in real­ity the situation is more complex due to behavioural phenomena.

3. Furthermore, all these studies failed to focus on the attitudes of the workers, which played a crucial role in influencing their performance and productivity.

Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, Chris Argyris, and other contributors made significant contributions to the behavioural school of thought. Maslow and McGregor’s contributions are in the shape of theories of motivation. While Maslow focused on the importance of human needs, which are the major driving forces for human motivation, McGregor made certain assumptions about people, categorizing them under theory X or theory Y.


Theory X essentially represents a negative view about people—that people are lazy have little ambition, dislike work, avoid responsibility, and require directions to work. Theory Y on the contrary, assumes, that people are more positive, capable of self-control, are innovative and creative, and do not inherently dislike work. Here, we have not discussed these theories in detail. We are only acknowledging their contributions to the behavioural school of thought.

Chris Argyris’s contributions to the behavioural school of thought are extremely important. His contributions are the maturity-immaturity theory, the integration of individual and organizational goals, and the Model I and Model II patterns. According to the maturity-immaturity theory, people progress from a stage of immaturity and dependence to a state of maturity and independence.

If organizations keep their employees in a dependent state, they allow them to remain immature and thereby prevent them from achieving their potential. Further, he also contended that a formal organization develops a rigid structure, compelling people to behave in an immature way. This leads to incongruence between the individual and organizational goals, hinders organizational development, results in failure, and fosters frustration and conflict.

People therefore exhibit signs of aggression, regression, and suppression. Model I and Model II patterns are two different assumptions. Workers in Model I type-organizations are motivated by the desire to manipulate others and protect themselves from others, while workers in Model II type-organizations are less manipulative and more willing to learn and take risks. Argyris therefore suggested that managers should always try to create a Model II type-organization.

(Video) Behavioral Management Theory

Rensis Likert and Peter F. Drucker have also contributed significantly to this school of thought in 1967 and 1954, respectively. Likert attributes low productivity and poor morale of the employees to a typical job-centred supervision technique. He has suggested some typical leadership styles to ensure better productivity and improved the morale of the workers. Drucker on the other hand pioneered several modem management concepts in the fields of innovation’ creativity, problem solving, organizational design, MBO, etc..

Related Articles:

  1. Human Relations Approach to Management
  2. Elton Mayo’s Human Relations Approach to Management

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What are the criticisms of the behavioral approach? ›

Moreover, one of the biggest criticisms of the behavioral perspective is that it is reductionist. It suggests everything can be explained through the stimulus-response relationship and ignores what cannot be observed, like emotions, internal thoughts, or cognitive biases.

What are the behavioural approaches to management? ›

What is the Behavioral Approach to Management? The Behavioral Theory of Management, often referred to as Neo-Classical Management Theory, focuses upon individual behavior, motivations, and social interactions. Specifically, it incorporates the study of human behavior through psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

What is the importance of behavioral approach in management? ›

The behavioral management theory is often called the human relations movement because it addresses the human dimension of work. Behavioral theorists believed that a better understanding of human behavior at work, such as motivation, conflict, expectations, and group dynamics, improved productivity.

What is an example of a behavioral approach? ›

A common example of behaviorism is positive reinforcement. A student gets a small treat if they get 100% on their spelling test. In the future, students work hard and study for their test in order to get the reward.

What is the behavioural approach? ›

1. The Behavioral Approach. The Behavioral Approach brings psychological, social, and contextual explanations of human behavior to policy design and provides innovative, complementary and usually inexpensive solutions for policy improvement.

Who criticized the behaviorist theory? ›

1. William McDougall was one of the major critics of Watson system. As we know, by 1925 Watson had completely rejected theory of instinct that was the base of McDougall's psychology. Attacking Watson, total rejection of method of introspection eliminated a great deal of valuable and legitimate data in psychology.

What are the two types of behavior approaches? ›

Although behaviorism is an approach in itself, it also has two particular subsets: methodological behaviorism and radical behaviorism.

What are the 4 approaches to management? ›

There are four types of management approaches will be mention clearly in this report include classical approach, human relation approach, system approach and contingency approach.

What are the 5 principles of behavior management? ›

Golly has identified five universal principles for managing their in-class conduct:
  • Being Respectful.
  • Modeling Behaviors.
  • Having Clear Expectations.
  • Maintaining Routines.
  • Dealing with Chronic Misbehaviors.

What are the main features of behavioral approach? ›

The eight characteristics features of behaviouralism as given by David Easton are as follows: (1) Regularities; (2) Verification; (3) Techniques; (4) Quantification; (5) Values; (6) Systematisation; (7) Pure Science; and (8) Integration.

What are the benefits of the Behavioural approach? ›

An obvious advantage of behaviorism is its ability to define behavior clearly and to measure changes in behavior. According to the law of parsimony, the fewer assumptions a theory makes, the better and the more credible it is.

What are the characteristics of behavioral approaches? ›

The Behavioral Approach. Human behavior is learned, thus all behavior can be unlearned and newbehaviors learned in its place. Behaviorism is concerned primarily with theobservable and measurable aspects of human behavior. Therefore when behaviorsbecome unacceptable, they can be unlearned.

What are the four 4 behavioral styles? ›

There are four major behavioral styles: analytical, amiable, driver and expressive.

How does the behavioural approach work? ›

The behavioral approach focuses exclusively on what leaders do and how they act. In shifting the study of leadership to leader behaviors, the behavioral approach expanded the research of leadership to include the actions of leaders toward followers in various contexts.

Who used the behavioral approach? ›

Watson and Behaviorism

John B. Watson (1878–1958) was an influential American psychologist whose most famous work occurred during the early 20th century at Johns Hopkins University. Watson thought that the study of consciousness was flawed because objective analysis of the mind was impossible.

What is the behavioural approach Mcq? ›

This theory refers to the learning process where learning takes place through rewarding a certain behaviour or withholding reward for undesirable behaviour.

What is the contribution and criticism of behaviorism theory? ›

Among the major contributions the theory of behaviourism has made to education are; the provision of behavioural objectives to the instructional process, the importance of the creation of favourable environments for learning, the enhancement of the 'behaviour modification' technique to the educational process, 1 ...

What are the limitations of behaviorist approaches? ›

One limit to behavioral theories is that people learn in different ways. Recent scholarship suggests that human development is far more complex than once imagined.

What are the three behavioral theories? ›

The most-often used theories of health behavior are Social Cognitive Theory, The Transtheoretical Model/Stages of Change, the Health Belief Model, and the Theory of Planned Behavior.

What is the behavioural approach to leadership? ›

The behavioral leadership theory focuses on how leaders behave, and assumes that these traits can be copied by other leaders. Sometimes called the style theory, it suggests that leaders aren't born successful, but can be created based on learnable behavior.

What are the 3 approaches of management? ›

Sub topic 2: Management approaches
  • Classical approach. – management as planning, organizing and controlling. – hierarchical organisational structure. – autocratic leadership style.
  • Contingency approach. – adapting to changing circumstances.
13 Oct 2016

What are the 3 management types? ›

There are three broad categories of management styles: Autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire. Within these categories, there are specific subtypes of management styles, each with its own pros and cons.

What is the best approach to management? ›

Best Types of Management Styles
  • Visionary.
  • Democratic.
  • Transformational.
  • Coaching.
18 Aug 2021

What are the 4 behavior factors? ›

There are four psychological factors that influence consumer behaviour: Motivation, perception, learning, and attitude or belief system.

What are the 4 goals of behavior? ›

Observe one child in your family and analyze the child's behavior according to the four goals of misbehavior de- scrtbed in this reading: Attention, Power, Revenge, and In- adequacy.

What are Behaviours in the workplace? ›

The term “workplace behavior” encompasses how your employees communicate with clients, how they treat each other and how they accomplish their daily tasks. If your employees consistently exhibit positive behavior, your customer satisfaction rates, productivity and culture are all likely to improve.

What are the five phases of behavior assessment? ›

Behavioral Assessment consists of five phases or functions: (a) screening, (b) defining and quantifying problems or goals, (c) pinpointing the target behavior (s) to be treated (d) monitoring progress, and (e) following up.

What is behavioural decision making? ›

Behavioral decision making is the study of affective, cognitive and social processes which humans employ to identify and choose alternatives. These processes are guided by the values, beliefs and preferences of the decision maker, produce a final choice and sway behavior.

› adolescent › chapter ›

Behaviorism is a theory of learning, and learning theories focus on how we are conditioned to respond to events or stimuli. These theories explain how experienc...
Contemporary behaviorists still emphasize the importance of observing behavior to understand an individual; however, not every behaviorist today accepts the ear...

Behavioral Approach › andersmd › beh › behavior › andersmd › beh › behavior
Behaviorism is concerned primarily with theobservable and measurable aspects of human behavior. Therefore when behaviorsbecome unacceptable, they can be unlearn...

What is a disadvantage of the behaviorist approach? ›

Disadvantages. It ignores the mental processes that are involved in learning unlike the cognitive approach who views these processes as important. According to the behaviourist approach, people can only learn as a result of their experiences.

What are the limitations of behaviorist approaches? ›

One limit to behavioral theories is that people learn in different ways. Recent scholarship suggests that human development is far more complex than once imagined.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the behaviourist approach? ›

  • STRENGTH: Scientific credibility. ...
  • STRENGTH: Real-life application. ...
  • WEAKNESS: Mechanistic view of behaviour. ...
  • WEAKNESS: Environmental determinism. ...
  • WEAKNESS: Ethical and practical issues in animal experiments.

What are the limitations of behavioral therapy? ›

Limitations of the Behavioural Approach
  • Behaviour therapy doesn't take into account the client's emotions. ...
  • Behaviour therapy ignores the significance of self or self-consciousness and does not consider the resourcefulness and imagination of the individual.

Is the behaviourist approach effective? ›

(2) POINT: The behaviourist approach has had many useful practical applications. EVIDENCE: For example, this approach has allowed Psychologists to develop successful therapies for treating abnormalities (e.g. flooding) which require individuals to unlearn their disorder using the principals of classical conditioning.

What are the main features of the behaviourist approach? ›

The Behaviourist approach to learning studied changes in behaviour that are caused by a person's direct experience of their environment, using the principles of classical and operant conditioning to explain them.

What is the problem with behaviorism? ›

The behaviorist strategies caused a fracturing of identity and mental health problems. Our non-compliance. Noncompliance is one of the most important social skills. Noncompliance skills make it possible to say no, even when others want your right to say no to is not intended to be rebellious.

What are the benefits of the Behavioural approach? ›

An obvious advantage of behaviorism is its ability to define behavior clearly and to measure changes in behavior. According to the law of parsimony, the fewer assumptions a theory makes, the better and the more credible it is.

What factors influence behaviorism? ›

Behaviour is affected by factors relating to the person, including: physical factors - age, health, illness, pain, influence of a substance or medication. personal and emotional factors - personality, beliefs, expectations, emotions, mental health. life experiences - family, culture, friends, life events.

What is the advantage of behavioral theory? ›

Unlike some other leadership theories, the behavioral theory supports the idea that anyone can be a leader. It suggests that certain behaviors make people into leaders, not qualities that they may have inherently. This enables anyone to become a leader based on what they learn and the decisions they make.

Which of the following is one of the criticisms of behavior therapy? ›

Which of the following is one of the criticisms of behavior therapy? It only relieves some symptoms of schizophrenia but does not treat the overall disorder.

What are the criticisms of cognitive behavioral therapy? ›

Given the dominance of CBT in certain settings, it is not surprising that the approach has garnered its fair share of critics. Opponents have frequently argued that the approach is too mechanistic and fails to address the concerns of the “whole” patient.

What was the biggest limitation of behaviorism? ›

  • Social Learning Theories. Limitations of Behaviorism: ignores motivation, thought, and cognition. ...
  • Response – one's reaction to the cue. Reinforcement – the effect of the response. ...
  • - based on past experience. Psychological situation – the situation as defined by the person.


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