This article talks about Management Learning, and how often some management topics are always reduced to a single theory or associated with a single theorist. According to this article, learners have narrowed their thinking to specific theories, making it difficult to explore some topics beyond specific models. For instance, motivation has always been associated with Maslow. This narrowed thinking has resulted in a scenario where learners do not deliberate beyond Maslow when talking about motivation, leadership, and job satisfaction. As stated in this article, attaching a certain theorist to a given management topic is not wrong. In fact, it is important to understand these models and how they can be practised in real-life scenarios. However, it is wrong to narrow down such a topic to one single theory. According to Watson (1996, p. 22), “The world is rapidly changing, and there is a need to ensure that people change with the changes that take place in various sectors.” This means that there is a need to go beyond conventional theories of management when looking for these solutions. It is necessary to come up with some new models that reflect the changes that have taken place in the environment.
When Maslow was coming up with various theories of management, the environmental factors were very different from what they are today. It is therefore important that new models are developed to reflect these changes. If these old models are to be applied, then there may be a need to adjust them. Reducing topics such as motivation and leadership to a single theory or associating them with single theorists poses some problems in understanding the topic. According to Adetule (2011, p. 93), knowledge is very dynamic, and what one may consider relevant today may not be relevant in future. When scholars develop some management models and theories, they always depend on environmental factors to define their reasoning. These environmental factors are not static. They are dynamic and it is important to reflect this dynamism in the management topics. Motivation has always been defined using Maslow’s theories.
Although these theories remain relevant, changes in the external environment are bringing in new needs amongst people. This means that sources of motivation are also changing. Leadership theories that are in use today are very effective in explaining sources of power and the best ways of leading people. However, one must understand that the world is dynamic, and it is not prudent to stick to one theory or model of one theorist. For example, Transformational leadership is a relatively new model of leadership that has gained popularity in the recent past. In order to come up with this new leadership model, one had to think beyond the existing models. This way, a new leadership model that is more effective was created and is being practised by both academicians and leaders in various sectors. This means that when the thinking is narrowed just to one theory, the knowledge beyond that theory is inhibited. That theory will be recycled even if it is apparent that its applicability has been reduced. This poses a serious problem to the body of knowledge because such topics cannot be developed beyond the single theory that is in use.
Reducing topics such as motivation and leadership to a single theory is often the case because of the need to follow a well-known path. According to Watson (1996, p. 45), very few people would always want to follow unknown paths in life. People like doing what they know so that they can determine the outcome. Change that comes with uncertainties is feared. For this reason, individuals would try to avoid developing such topics from new fronts or bringing in other related theories. For example, Maslow has defined motivation using his theories in a very clear manner. People would try to avoid developing new models that may appear to challenge the universally accepted models or models. This explains why learners are subjected to the same theories when dealing with such topics because the theories have gained acceptance. Those who should be responsible for bringing change are reluctant to initiate it.
This article presents a detailed discussion of some of the conventional theories and theorists, especially Maslow and his theory of hierarchy of needs. As demonstrated in this article, this theory is credible. It presents how human needs change with changes in environmental factors. One would always try to satisfy the most pressing needs, which Maslow identifies as physiological needs. Once these needs are met, one would try to meet security needs. As one satisfies the lower needs, higher needs become more pressing, till that time one achieves self-actualization. This model is highly relevant in managerial practices. As a manager, it is very important to identify the most pressing needs. As demonstrated in this article, once the basic needs of a firm have been realized, the manager can consider addressing other needs that are classified as secondary. This would enable a firm to avoid a possible crisis that may arise because some basic needs were not addressed.
List of References
Adetule, J 2011, Handbook on management theories, Author House, Bloomington.
Watson, T 1996, Motivation: That’s Maslow, isn’t it, Management Learning, vol. 27. no. 10, pp. 447-464.