Interdisciplinary Theories of the Workplace
Corporate management, indeed all forms of institutional management, deal with human beings and their relationships to one another. This is true not only of personnel or "human resources" of organizations, specifically charged with the task of hiring, developing, and if necessary firing the people of an organization. It is true of every manager in an organization, and every activity that the organization carries out. After all, no process is totally automated. There is always a human being somewhere in the loop, dealing with other human beings.
Human beings are uniquely flexible (no other large land animal on Earth has a wider native habitat). They are also uniquely complex. They have drives, but not instincts as other animals do. As a simple example, all cats wash themselves in the same way. Humans wash themselves (or fail to) in an endless variety of ways. Likewise, cats deal with other cats in certain fixed ways, whereas humans deal with each other in endlessly varied and often unpredictable ways.
Thus, human relations in the broad sense are central to how all organizations operate. In fact, an organization is by definition a set of human relations. The study of these relations has, over the years, drawn from a variety of social sciences, including sociology, psychology, and even psychiatry. "Human Relations" is also used by specialists in management in a narrower way, to mean a specific school of thought about management that developed in the 1940s (Accel Team, 2004).
In the following discussion, human relations will be discussed in the broader sense, as a set of theories of how people relate to and deal with one another in the workplace, theories that have been drawn from several social disciplines. The three theories that will be discussed specifically are Max Weber's pioneering sociological theory of bureaucracy, Abraham Maslow's psychological theory...