Classical vs Behavioural


Classical Approach vs Behavioural Approach to Public Management

Both Classical and Behavioural theorists attempted to find the best way to manage in all organizations. However, there were variations in their approaches.

The major thrust of the differences between Classical approach and Behavioural approach to the management of public or private organization consists in the following areas:


The behavioural approach sought to modify, though seldom to eliminate, the hierarchical organizational structures so ardently espoused by the Classical authors.

This modification was thought to be necessary in order to appeal to a wider range of human needs and thus effectively motivate man in the organization.

Accordingly, the Behavioural approach supported a number of changes in organizational structure and process.

Whereas the Classical approach emphasized executive decision-making responsibilities, the Behavioural approach argued for more participatory decision-making procedures.


Supervision under the Classical approach was to be basically “production oriented,” while the Behavioural approach supported a more “employee-oriented” style of supervision.


While the Classical approach sensitized the benefits of specialization, the Behavioural approach counseled job enlargement (that is, expanding the range of work functions performed) to give employees a greater sense of satisfaction from the performance of their tasks.


The classical approach urged a restricted span of control to ensure close supervision, while the Behavioural approach suggested a wider span of control to prevent close supervision and allow sufficient latitude for the expression of self-initiative and self-control on the part of the worker.


The Classical scholars demanded centralization in the name of control and coordination; the Behavioural authors insisted on decentralization to give more members of the organization a greater sense of control over their own destinies.

These contrasts in managerial style were derived, in large part, from more fundamental conceptual differences between the two approaches–most basically in their notions about the relationship between man and the organization.

There were also some major differences between the Classical and Behavioural approaches in the methods employed to realize the common ambition of constructing a science of administration.

The Classical approach was largely deductive and normative in its emphasis. The Behavioural approach, in contrast, was more inductive and descriptive in emphasis, pursuing much of its research in the logical-positivist tradition; stressing the use of systematic techniques of analysis in the testing of hypotheses, and generalization based on an accumulation of empirical findings.

Normative attributions about organizations were not so much abandoned as deferred, pending the acquisition of more descriptive information. It was maintained that we should not try to prescribe how organizations should operate (normative analysis) until we know more about how they actually operate (descriptive analysis).

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