Modern and Postmodern Management Theory

Modern and Postmodern Management Theory

In working on another project, I completed some research on Management Theory.  I found the reading insightful and wrote some thoughts on the topic…

Modern management theories arose out of the industrial revolution through the First and Second World War.  Modern management theories adoption was occurred slowly because of the belief that organizations were too diverse and the practice would only work over a short time (Witzel & Warner, 2015).  As discussed by Len Nixon, modern management theories focused on maximizing productivity and frequently treated employees as a cog in the machine.  Scientific approaches were employed to standardize processes, select appropriate workers and reduce employee movements.  Along the same lines, division of labor, defined rules and regulations, and the more formalized relationship with a defined chain of command was established between employees and management.  Modern management theories were embraced widely and have applicability in today’s workplace (Nixon, 2003).

The postmodernist movement humanize employees and encourage management to increase worker productivity by considering the needs of the employees, developing incentive systems, training, and have career pathing (Nixon, 2003).  Additionally, the division of labor took on a team-based focus, management became more concerned with motivation and communication, and the hierarchy and rule system became less comprehensive (Nixon, 2003).

The modernist management practices are utilized today in manufacturing and many industrial settings (Nixon, 2003).  Additionally, these management practices are frequently used with inexperienced workers and entry-level positions.  As the jobs become more complex and the workers more skilled, postmodern management theories become commonplace.  Basic job functions benefit by initial scoping through the modernist theories.  However, employees are the key element in most businesses and thrive under postmodern theories.  By combining these two sets of theories, modern managers are better able to understand employee motivations and improve productivity.  Employees need to be needed, want to be appreciated, rewarded for their efforts, and work on tasks that are engaging.  The postmodern theories of management allow managers to understand these feelings and design tasks that will deliver for the business and the employees at the same time.


Nixon, L. (2003, August). Management theories–an historical perspective. Businessdate, 11(4), 5. Retrieved August 20, 2015, from Business Source Complete.

Witzel, M., & Warner, M. (2015). Taylorism revisited: Culture, management theory and paradigm-shift. Journal of General Management, 40(3), 55-69. Retrieved August 20, 2015, from Business Source Premier.

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