Modernist and Neo-Modernist Organization Theory Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1208 Words
Date:  2022-09-26


Over the past approximately 100 years, organization theory has evolved into a distinctive social science field, a body of thinking and writing that attempts to explain and influence what occurs in organizations (Daft 2015). However, recently, it has become increasingly diverse regarding the perspectives that organization theorists us to study the essential social phenomena that affect numerous aspects of people's lives (Hatch 2018). This paper seeks to describe what organization theory is and how it relates to human practices, especially management. Then, the paper explains modernist and neo-modernists organizations theories including what constitutes a good manager according to each theory.

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Organization Theory

Hatch (2018) defines an organization theory as knowledge systems that study and explain the organizational structure, functioning, performance, and organizational group and individual behavior. Accounts of the growth of organization theory began with Taylor and Weber, although organizations were still present in the old civilizations. However, the focus of this paper is modernist and neo-modernist organizational theory and the way they describe a good manager.

Modernist Organization Theory

The modernist approach to organizations is based on a belief that if people adopt a rational, scientific approach to organizational life, entities can be effective and efficient machines for the delivery of industry, business, and public services. Modernists assert that for organizations to be efficient and effective, they need to be designed so that they have a clear structure, a rational sense of order and stability, and clear lines of authority and accountability (Yang, Liu, and Wang 2013). Two key technologies namely bureaucracy and modernist processes of management underpin modernism.

Max Weber - Bureaucratic Theory (1864 -1920)

Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy was a significant modern organization theory. He believed that bureaucracy was essential for the rational attainment of organizational goals. He discerned that each social system was maintained by the interaction of power, authority, and legitimacy. Weber argued about three ideal types of authority with the purpose of establishing why in a hierarchical arrangement or organization a person accepts by the institutions of his or her boss (Daft 2015). The diverse views of authority were traditional, rational-legal, and charismatic. The theory stressed firm rules and a strict distribution of power. Further, Weber believed that job responsibilities should be delegated based on ability and skills and employees should stick to their position's roles. Moreover, straying out of their roles would disrupt the hierarchy of authority

Thus, according to this theory, a good manager is one who carries out his or her responsibilities in a hierarchic manner guided by official rules and procedures. The hierarchy serves as channels of communication and delegation of authority. Further, the manager lacks emotions, sentiments or personal involvement. He or she uses the impersonality concept while dealing with organizational relations both internally and externally.

Neo-Modernist organization Theory

Neo-modernism emerged during the 1920s mainly out of concerns that the modernist organization theory failed to describe the place of the human in the organization (Yang et al. 2013). Neo-modernists believed that people work in entities for various reasons such as economic reward, membership of a social group, individual satisfaction, having a say in the running of the company, and belonging to an entity. Thus, this organizational theory is concerned with putting people at the heart of the organization. It assumes that effective entities are fundamental to human progress. Neo-modernists are interested in the ways in which the values and beliefs of people shape and are shaped by their experience of organizational life (Daft 2015). Notably, this leads to their interest in organizational culture, in the ways that companies need to be designed around people and in understanding processes of change. Two primary traditions namely human relations and democratic organizations underpin neo-modernism. In human relations tradition, companies need leadership and management with a human face to create the best environment for employees (Hatch 2018). Conversely, a democratic organization emphasizes the idea of empowerment of all members of the entity.

Elton Mayo - Human Relations Theory

Elton Mayo introduced the human relations approach to management. His experiments, Hawthorne Experiments, disproved Fredrick Taylor's beliefs that science dictated that the highest productivity was found in the one best way (Hatch 2018). Mayo's experiments provided strong support for the notion that there can be a way of managing organizations that are centered on people but within the context of strong leadership (Yang et al. 2013). Further, he put forward the idea that employees' work performance is partly dependent upon social issues, mainly with regard to how work satisfaction lay in recognition and a sense of belonging instead of merely upon monetary rewards.

According to this theory, a good manager is one who recognizes that people are the most important resource for the organization. The manager understands that for organizations to work effectively and efficiently, he or she must create a good environment for the employees. Moreover, work satisfaction and hence performance rely on working conditions and attitudes, positive management response and commitment, and communications.


In summary, modernist and neo-modernist organizational theories differed significantly. While modernist theorists such as Max Weber focused on organizational structures, neo-modernist theorists like Elton Mayo focused on people. Hence, the definition is a good manager varies based on the focus of each theorist. According to the bureaucratic theory, a good manager carries out his or her responsibilities in a hierarchic manner guided by official rules and procedures. Conversely, based on the human relations theory, a good manager is one who recognizes that people are the most important resource for the organization.


Daft, R.L., 2015. Organization theory and design. Cengage learning.

Hatch, M.J., 2018. Organization theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives. Oxford university press.

Yang, C.X., Liu, H.M. and Wang, X.X., 2013. Organization theories: from classical to modern. Journal of Applied Sciences, 13(21), pp.4470-4476.

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Modernist and Neo-Modernist Organization Theory Paper Example. (2022, Sep 26). Retrieved from

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