Scientific & Administrative Management Theories

Scientific & Administrative Management Theories

A Workplace Perspective

The retail industry utilizes two approaches to management; the Scientific Management and Administrative Management Theories. These two theories have been large influencers in the processes and operations of the retail industry.

Scientific Management Theory

The scientific management theory is rooted in the quest for efficiency. This management theory is rooted in lean management. The methodology for my company is Six Sigma. This methodology works by reducing waste along manufacturing and supply lines. This system works by having systems in place which allows workers and managers to identify areas of waste or low quality (Holweg, 2007). For example, if a worker sees that a fabric dye is being implemented improperly on a line of shirts, he or she can stop the production until the problem is fixed. This system works well due to the fact that it allows for the retail supply chain to correct issue as they occur this can increase value as well as stop waste. Prior to this system a line would run until a manager stopped it and this could waste thousands of dollars’ worth of materials or waste enormous amounts of time. This is accomplished by designing management functions such as control and leading to allow for stoping of production when issues arise in quality or faulty output (Holweg, 2007).

In the last 20 years the scientific management theory has evolved into many forms including the Kaizen approach and Sigma Six. These systems have been applied to many different industries and services. While these theories have been touted as management masterpieces in the modern realm, their application to specific industries is somewhat controversial. The success of scientific management in manufacturing industries has led to the adoption and modification of this theory to fit other non-manufacturing industries. This has had a negative impact in many instances:

Many companies have embraced Six Sigma, a quality-control system designed to tackle problems such as production defects, and lean manufacturing, which aims to remove all processes that don’t add value to the final product. But many of those companies have come away less than happy. Recent studies, for example, suggest that nearly 60% of all corporate Six Sigma initiatives fail to yield the desire results (Chakravorty, 2010).

An analysis of this issue shows that the problem resides in the fact that scientific management systems were implemented in companies that were not manufacturing environments. This meant altering the theory beyond its original design to fit it to a particular work environment or industry. So while this system works well in my workplace it may not be easily transferable to other non-manufacturing industries.

Administrative Management Theory

Many companies also utilizes and administrative management theory for managing the organization. This is an old approach that was initially conceived by Max Weber and Henri Fayol (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). The system is based on bureaucracy and administration which utilize rational systems for increasing production. For example, the creation of multiple warehouses for retail goods provides a means of covering larger geographic zones. The functions of management are also well suited for this theory as they are easily woven into the operations and control mechanisms (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). For example, Leading is done from a top down approach that incorporates the Six Sigma elements of reducing waste. However, this administrative model is not perfect.

One of the major issues with administrative theory is that it is based on formalized systems of operations which generally take the form of bureaucratic rules in order to achieve efficiency (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). This make my organization prone to problems such as long lines of leadership where upper management becomes increasingly disconnected from lower levels of management and workers. As well, this system is prone to bureaucratic inertia bureaucratic. This is a situation in which old policies and practices continue to operate within the organization despite being outdated and no longer having a useful function bureaucratic. An example of this can be seen in the supply chain system of many companies. Many companies still using computer systems built in the 90s would be antiquated and some features might not work well. Despite this fact, many companies took over a decade to replace their systems because of the belief that it was working. Change can be slow within administrative management models and this can reduce competitive advantage.

Effective Management Competencies and Styles

As a result of the blend of scientific and administrative management theories, my workplace is prone to management styles which are both democratic/collaborative and authoritative (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). This may seem like an odd blend but when management is utilizing the Six Sigma approach properly, workers are allowed more autonomy and ability to guide processes. This requires a democratic/collaborative approach to management (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). In contrast, the job may get done but it may not follow the Six Sigma approach properly. Typically speaking, these instances of leadership are driven by authoritative leaders. These leaders get the job done but will micro manage the processes. By managing in this manner there is no freedom for employees to help drive innovation and corrections through the six sigma system. These leaders typically view the end results or outcomes in terms of money, time, and quantity rather than seeking to increase quality and efficiency. Leaders in organizations that operate in this manner typically have satisfactory numbers compared to the democratic leaders who possess high performance in all areas of production. While the authoritative leader may work to get the job done, he or she is not really achieving the highest level of success possible. Sadly, it really depends on the department and zone that a person is hired which determines this type of leadership.


Chakravorty, S. S. (2010, January 25). Where Process-Improvement Projects Go Wrong Six Sigma and other programs typically show early progress. And then things return to the way they were. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal:

Holweg, M. (2007). The genealogy of lean production. Journal of Operations Management, 25(2), 420–437.

Pearce, J. A. II, & Robinson, R. B. (2009). Strategic management: Formulation, implementation, and control (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


Triola Vincent. Tue, Jan 12, 2021. Scientific & Administrative Management Theories Retrieved from

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