The contingency approach to management allows managers to use elements from different schools of thought to respond to situations. It rejects the idea that there is a best way to manage and emphasizes fitting the chosen action to the situation at hand.
The contingency approach is a form of business management in which the manager does not follow any school of thought. Instead, he or she lets the situation dictate managerial choices. The contingency approach can combine elements from the three main traditional schools of management thought. These are the classical, behavioral and science schools of management.
The contingency approach to management should not be misunderstood as a way to avoid the use or knowledge of traditional business schools. Managers using the contingency approach must study all three schools of thought in order to effectively use elements of them to respond to situations that arise. Other more recent management moves can also be integrated into the contingency approach.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the classical school of management evolved. This school encompasses two areas of thought: scientific management, which should not be confused with the school of management science that developed later, and management theory. Scientific management focused on the productivity of each worker. He emphasized job specialization, worker selection, and standardized training and wages. Meanwhile, management theory was concerned with the organization as a whole, emphasizing authority, discipline, and unity of thought and mission.
The behavioral school of thought recognized that workers are not just automatons, but people who have thoughts, feelings, and needs. This school stated that the way people are treated affects performance. Being aware of employees’ needs and rewarding them for a job well done was an integral part of this school of thought. It was assumed that people would be influenced more by peer pressure than by managerial incentives or punishments.
Finally, the science of management evolved during and after World War II. This school of management applied the scientific method to the problems faced by managers in the workplace. He emphasized efficiency and used mathematical models to find solutions to common problems.
Each of these classic schools assumes that it is possible to find the best way to manage any and all types of businesses. The contingency approach rejects this idea. He accepts that the overall effectiveness of the management style does not depend on following a particular school of thought, but on how well the chosen action fits the situation at hand. In choosing which action to take, a manager can take into account the needs of the company, the wants of customers, and the capabilities and temperaments of employees.