The history of managing people

The history of managing people has reflected prevailing beliefs and attitudes held
in society about employees, the response of employers to public policy (for example,
health and safety and employment legislation) and reactions to trade union growth. In the
early stages of the Industrial Revolution, the extraordinary codes of discipline and fines
imposed by factory owners were, in part, a response to the serious problem of imposing
standards of discipline and regularity on an untrained workforce. In the 1840s common
humanity and political pressure began to combine with enlightened self-interest among a
few of the larger employers to make them aware of alternative ways of managing their
workforce, other than coercion, sanctions, or monetary reward. Theorists also suggest that
the ways in which organisations choose to manage their employees are in a state of
transition. Labour management practices have assumed new prominence in the 1990s as
concerns persisted about global competition, the internationalisation of technology and
the productivity of workers. It is argued that these market input push work organisations
to adjust their system of managerial control strengthen effective utilisation of human
The assignment consist in studying the need for new approach to the management of
people in order to reflect the way in which organisations are evolving at the start of the 21st
To proceed I will first introduce the debate concerning organization evolution and
the need for new approaches to manage people. Then I will carry out an review of new
methods to managing people in the organisation context, as well as people management
philosophy and practices which concentrate on the way in which organisation overall
approach of people contribute to the effectiveness.
I will conclude with the controversy between the Modernist and Post-Modernist
paradigms in regard to management science and empirical research. A fundamental belief in
Modernism is that all problems can be solved rationally by the application of scientific and
social theory, and thus justify management theories that aim to explain human behaviour.
Post-Modernists argue that it is impossible to derive a universal truth, and therefore empirical
studies do not reflect the reality within organisations. 
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Artist and poet create theirs works in response to the time in which they lives, wars
emerge out of economic and political pressure. Companies change their structures in response
to the need to follow their customers overseas, for instance. Therefore, to better understand
the Human Resource’s role in organisation today, it’s necessary to understand first how
companies themselves are changing and the trend that are causing these change to occur.
Perhaps the most important, organisations today are under intense pressure to be better, faster,
and more competitive. The combined effects of the globalisation, the dematerialisation of
economic activity, the acceleration of technological and social change, and the emergence of
new trends toward a service society and the information age. The trends that have
dramatically increased the degree of competition are virtually all industries, while forcing
firms to cope with unprecedented product innovation and technological change. Companies in
such environment either become competitive high-performers or die. Indeed these trends have
changed the nature of work. For example, telecommunications already makes it relatively
easy to work at home, and the use of Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided
Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems is booming. Manufacturing progresses like these will
eliminate many blue-collar jobs, replacing them with more highly skilled jobs, and these new
workers will require a degree of training and commitment that their parents probably have
never imagined of. In the same way being better, faster, and more competitive is also more
important because for many industries the comfortable protection provided by government
regulations has been swept away. For example in the United States (and in many other
industrialized countries such as England, France, and Japan), industries from airlines to banks
must now compete nationally and internationally without the protection of government to
regulate prices. One major consequence has been the sudden and dramatic opening of various
markets to competition. MCI/Worldcom and other long distance phone companies have
entered the previously protected monopoly of AT&T, and start-ups from Kiwi Air to Morris
Air compete head-to-head with industry giants like Delta airline, for instance. Prices for hundreds of services from airline tickets to long-distance calls have dropped dramatically, often
far below what they were 10 years ago, it means also that companies must get their costs
As a result, to remain competitive, jobs and organization charts will have to be
redesigned, new incentive and compensation plans put in place, new job descriptions written, 
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and new employee selection, evaluation, and training programs defined all with the help of
Human Resource Management.
In the earlier type of organisations, before the 1950's much effort was placed on
getting the workforce motivated. Administrators in management positions gave minimal
consideration to the internalisation of how the human beings in the organisation interpreted
their organisation. Managers and leaders were responsible for designing motivational factors
such as hierarchical staff structure and long term employment to maintain a productive
workforce. After the Industrial Revolution, some theorists have argued in favour of a new
type of organisation theory, even a Post-modern one, from the point of view that we are
entering a post-Fordist era (Gergen,1992), and the new emergent revolution appears to be the
Organisation Revolution or the Cultural Revolution: The Post Modernist theories.
Epistemology is the foundation for studying Post-Modernism. Theorists who study that part
of philosophy, which deals with the origin, nature, and limits of knowledge play an important
role is analysing this era of organisational development style. In the functionalist approach to
organisational management the manager is the controlling element. The manager organises
the Human Resources and prescribes how productivity, motivation, moral, work effectiveness
and efficiency should be managed for optimum product performance. This method works
efficiently and effectively in economically and educationally developing countries, however
faces challenging situations in the Post-modern organisation. Cultural and social
developments are seen to be the driving force in shaping the currently emerging organisation.
This then proves the theoretical perspective for theorists to adopt. The Post-Modernist
perspective grew out of a reaction to the Modernist perspective of organisations. Modernists
saw organisations very much the same way functionalists’ theorists saw them. Bureaucratic
control was one of the main features in this school of thought. Indeed the Post-modern
organisations are thus different from the traditional modern bureaucracy where people were
subject to rationally set rules of regulation and hierarchical control. The Post-modern
organisation is one in which highly qualified employees find themselves within culturally
complex, but flexible, production structures which are held together by information
technology networks (Hassard, 1993).
The cultural issues are key management concerns in the era of Post-Modern
organisations. The cultural perspective of Post-Modernism is about “flexibility and flexible
strategies” (Toffler 1990). They allow wide access to information and the transfer of
information across boundaries. Flexibility accommodates change in the structure of power 
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relationships (workers do own the means of production) they are specialised in their field of
task , which task employees work on tasks and problems that originate from within the team
rather than on problems and tasks given to them by the formal hierarchy. To enhance
flexibility, organisational management tends to be horizontal rather than vertical, in the sense
that it is a flat hierarchy. Basically, we can say that relationships across levels are broadly
concerned with control/resistance axis of the structure, and those across functions with coordination/fragmentation axis, there is a great variation in the extent and form of boundary
crossing between levels and functions. Organisations where the vertical boundaries between
levels are clearly marked and assume great significance for participants are said to have a
strong hierarchy; while the horizontal boundaries between function and departments, are
predominant in the term of relationship, product group and product organisation.
Interpretivists found that managers in contemporary organisations actually were
shapers of the organisation. They negotiate and renegotiate issues, form and reform working
operations, internalise socially constructed meanings of the human beings and always work
towards building an organisation, which has a strong cultural base. These Leaders drives their
staff within the boundaries of the organisation and gathers meaning from the social context of
these people. They are above all strategic managers. They employ different strategies to make
sense of the group's systems. One of these strategies is to motivate the workforce. It was
discovered that the human beings could motive themselves when given a degree of control
over their own position within the organisation. Teamwork is a key feature also in the new
type of organisation where there is less emphasis on predictability and control and more
importance on ideology.
Post-Modernists have helped us to see that reality is more complex and is a part of
human creation. We redraw reality in accordance with our needs, interests, prejudices, and
cultural traditions. Post-Modernism is synonymous with the Post-industrial view of
organisations. It was first popularised as an architectural term, which referred to a reaction
against the modernist structure.
 Organisations are systems of independent human beings. From some point of view
the members of an organisation may be considered as a resource, but they are a special
kind of resource in the fact that they are directly involved in all the processes of the
organisation and can affect its aims as well as the methods used to accomplish them.
Motivation refers to the mainspring of behaviour; it explains why individuals, choose to 
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expend a degree of effort towards achieving particular goals. Understanding more about
attitudes at work provides a partial context to understand motivation. But this context needs
to be expanded beyond individual attitudes and group pressures to include non-attitudinal
factors like present life style, material commitments and assumed capabilities. These affect
a person's choice of goals as well as rational processes that underlie their decisions to
expend effort in particular ways. Motivation theory has developed in two ways, one
focusing on the content and the other on the process of motivation. The earliest modern
attempts to develop a theory of motivation have concentrated attention on the individual's
choice of goals; what they are and why they are important. Briefly this question has been
answered in terms of the selection of goals associated with the reduction of physiological
drives (for satisfaction of hunger, thirst, shelter) or socially acquired needs (for love and
friendship, self-esteem, status).
Against this background of a search for single explanations of worker motivation,
the work of Maslow (1943) was particular important. Rather than emphasising a single
source of motivation, he suggested a “Hierarchy of Need” in which individuals sought
outcomes, which satisfied needs in an ascending hierarchy. Mallow’s ideas (1943) were
important in opening up the motivation debate to include more than one goal, and to
identify “self-esteem” and “self-actualisation” as potentially important goals. However,
there has been little empirical support for his view of a universal hierarchy, as the evidence
once again points to the fact that people's motivation profiles vary with individual
characteristics and with social context. The kernel of Maslow's (1943) ideas was largely
presented to the business world by McGregor (1960), who was also important for the stress
he gave to the idea that, regardless the actual motivation profile of workers, their manager’s
assumptions about their motivation had a profound effect upon the behaviour and attitudes
of both managers and workers. McGregor (1960) suggested two polar examples of
managerial thought: “Theory X and Y”. Theory X managers, rather in the manner of F. W.
Taylor, believed workers were lazy, resistant to change and lacking in ambition. Managers
therefore needed to control them tightly, to limit their discretion and to manipulate them
with incentive schemes. Theory Y managers, on the other hand, followed Maslow (1943).
Their view was that employees could be motivated by the goals of achievement, “selfesteem” and “self-actualisation”, and hence it was the manager's job to lead them to these
rich pastures and help them to develop, to the mutual benefit of themselves and their
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In a similar vein, Herzberg's (1966) “Two factor theory” states that people will be
motivated by things they value, and these, he affirms, are likely to be achievement,
responsibility and recognition; in other words, self-actualisation. Such factors he called
“motivators”, and he distinguished them from “Hygienic Factors” which, as aspects of
physical working conditions like pay, security, and other conditions, only served as sources
of dissatisfaction. Once satisfied to a certain level, they did not motivate people to a “higher
performance in their work” (Herzberg, 1966). Herzberg's work, like that of McGregor,
captured the imagination of many managers and influenced their approach to work.
In modern studies of organisation and management there is acknowledgement that
whilst power alone can secure compliance, unless it has resonance with shared values, it is
unlikely to blossom into sustained leadership. In some ways the capacity to articulate a
vision and set of values and thereby to facilitate culture change, is the most valuable part of
leadership, In this context, inspiration is as important as perspiration. But to sustain change,
one has to balance the vision with a realistic analysis of present strengths and weaknesses
and a determination to make things happen. You can be a leader without being a manager.
However you cannot be a good manager without developing leadership in respect of some
aspects of organisational activity. This is mainly due to the fact that managers are
accountable for the results of the performance of other people. Hence influencing people to
perform appropriately tasks to the highest standard is a base of the managerial activity. The
definition given above places the role of followers alongside that of leaders if one is to
understand the nature of leadership. As Hollander (1995) says, “leadership involves an
interdependent relationship with follower, aimed at co-operative team achievements”. The
role of “follower” in sustaining a leader's credibility, in interpreting and proselytising his
values to other, and of course, in working with the leader to secure identified and desired
achievement, means that leadership and follower ship have, to be considered always in
relation to the other.
My managing people experience was done during a technical training course in a news
agency in province (Nice, France) for the french Television channel ‘TF1’. The aim of this
agency is to produce reports on the South Est area for its head office. This agency has the
same goal than international agencies: to be able to be immediately operational for major
events, because in the news world news time is a priority. The organisational is established, 
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directled and supported by a small central executive core which, in the horizontal hierarchy;
determine strategy, allocate ressource, and monitor performance.
These central tasks can only be successfully achieved if there are good
communications in all directions between the agencies and the executive centre, and a great
deal of devolution, and within limited timescale and budget. It is essential to have clear
scope of work and objectives, as well as timescales. Such an organisational form is seen by
Peters (1992), and Drucker (1991) to be particularly appropriate for the completion of tasks
which fall within a fast changing environment and which require a high degree of
professional or specialist expertise, creativity and problem solving as well as a need to
conform to tight criteria of cost, quality, and delivery.
Here the horizontal organisation creates flexibility, adaptability, and reduces the
delays by allowing people to talk to and communicate directly with those who can help to get
a job done. We can compare it to bureaucratic process of going up the management tree
involving several levels of hierarchy between those who need to talk to each other.
In this news environment the leadership is crucial. Indeed it describes dynamic
relationship through which people influence and motivate others in their aspirations, for
example TF1 has succeeded in implementing a corporate culture so that reports are made with
a ‘TF1’ style. We can see the effectiveness of such organisation in live show. Everything
must be done within a short notice: installation of the equipment, creation of
telecommunications links, organisation of the journalist team. Indeed no analysis of
leadership can be static and we see that here; the situation requirements change with time.
This implies a further characteristic of leaders: that is that they need to understand when and
how to adapt their style to the context, and to have the practical ability to follow their
analysis by appropriate actions.
Another thing which seems significant is the employee involvement. For example
the choice of a subject to broadcast, occurs during a cross-functional meeting with the
journalist, the legal, and the technical. Indeed the process of employee involvement should
provide employees with the opportunity to influence and, wherever possible, take part in
decision making on matters which affect their working lives. Charlton (1983) has suggested
that the most prevalent classification is that which differentiates direct from indirect 
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participation. The term “direct” is used to refer to those forms of participation where
individual employees, are involved in the decision-making processes that affect their
everyday work routines. Direct participation, such as briefing groups (self-managed teams
or cross functional team) or the creation of new work organization arrangements, is viewed
as a device to increase labour productivity and implicitly to improve job satisfaction. On the
other hand, indirect participation is used to refer to those forms of participation  

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