8 junio, 2024

Neohuman relationist school: what it is, characteristics, exponents

what is the relationist neohuman school?

The relationist neohuman school It is a set of theories developed during the 50s and 60s that analyze human behavior at work from an individual perspective, pointing out motivation as the main key to improving productivity.

This school arises as a response to the school of human relations, which it criticizes as well as bureaucracy, for not treating individuals individually to analyze productivity in organizations. His proposal for an improvement in productivity was the satisfaction, incentives and intrinsic motivation of human beings.

For this, it is essential to know the causes or motivations that lead people to act in one way or another. Within this school there are several theories; the most important authors were Abraham Maslow, Frederick Herzberg, Douglas McGregor, Rensis Likert and Christ Argyris.


– This school contains concepts of the theory of human relations and structuralism, although in an updated way.

– Presents greater sophistication in the control techniques used for relationships.

– It focuses on increasing the productivity of workers as a basis for increasing efficiency.

– Defends the imposition of objectives as an incentive to motivation.

– Defends greater worker participation.

Main exponents/representatives

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

Maslow was a psychologist from Brooklyn, New York (USA), who developed several theories related to human behavior.

The best known is the famous pyramid of needs, formulated in 1943. In this, the American proposes a hierarchical scale of needs by which human behavior is governed:


It is the base of the pyramid; that is, they are the primary and biological needs without which individuals could not live: food, breathing, sleep, etc.


The second step of the pyramid is made up of protection and security needs, such as order, stability (moral, economic, health), physical protection, among others.


Here friendships, love, the need for belonging and affection, etc. would enter.


They are all those related to self-esteem, such as confidence, respect and success.

Self realisation

Finally, Maslow argues that our last need is to become the best version of ourselves, through creativity, spontaneity, understanding things, lack of prejudice, among other ways.

Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000)

Herzberg was closely related to Maslow and believed that the motivation was given by two factors. On the one hand, he said that organizations could introduce certain factors that would directly motivate workers (motivators).

On the other hand, he stated that there were other factors that, if they were not in the workplace, would demotivate workers; however, in the case of being there, it would not be a motivating factor for them (hygiene factors).


Motivators are factors directly related to the work itself. Some examples are how interesting the work is, what opportunities for promotion there are, how much responsibility one has or what forms of recognition exist.

hygiene factors

These factors have to do with everything that surrounds work. For example, a worker will not go to work if he does not have an acceptable salary or minimum security conditions; however, having these factors exist will not make you work more efficiently.

Herzberg concluded that, in order to increase the motivation of workers, organizations must adopt a democratic stance in their leadership, improving the nature and content of work through certain methods:

– Expansion of work; that is, giving workers a greater variety of tasks (not necessarily more complicated ones) that will make the job more interesting.

– Job enrichment, which involves giving a greater number of complex jobs, in order to increase the sense of achievement.

– Empowerment, which refers to giving more decision-making power to workers within their workplace.

Douglas McGregor (1906-1964)

Douglas McGregor was an American professor and economist. In 1960 he wrote the book called The human side of enterprise (in Spanish, «The human side of the company»)where he formulated two theories that were an essential contribution to the neohuman relationist approach.

Theory X

This theory stated that people inherently hate work and avoid it whenever possible. This gives rise to authoritarian management in the organization. Some characteristics of this theory are the following:

– People must be threatened and controlled to make them work hard.

– The average individual prefers to be commanded, does not like responsibility, is unambiguous and wants security above all else.

– People do not like work of any kind.

– Each individual needs to be constantly supervised.

– Workers have no incentive to work and lack ambition, so they need to be rewarded to achieve their goals.

Theory Y

This theory contrasts with the previous one, since it sees people in a more optimistic way; the resulting management is much more participatory. The characteristics of the workers according to this theory would be the following:

– They work on their own initiative.

– They are more involved in decision making.

– They self-motivate themselves to complete their tasks.

– They enjoy being the owners of their own work.

– They seek and accept responsibility, they do not need to be commanded.

– They see work as stimulating and rewarding.

– Solve problems creatively and imaginatively.

Rensis Likert (1903-1981)

Likert was an American psychologist and educator who did very focused work on organizations. His greatest contribution to this school was the development of the «new management patterns», based on the different behaviors of the bosses:

Authoritative – exploitative

Power and direction come from above, where threats and punishments are used, communication is poor, and teamwork is minimal. Overall, productivity is mediocre.

authoritative – benevolent

Similar to above, but leaves some room for bottom-up queries and uses rewards as well as threats. Productivity is usually relatively good, although there is high absenteeism and staff turnover.


The objectives are established after discussing them with subordinates, communication is vertical in both directions and teamwork is partially encouraged. There is some involvement of the employees as a motivating element.


Many agree that this is the best system. In this way, participation is the main objective, in order to achieve a total commitment to the objectives of the organization.

Communication is vertical in both directions, and it is also lateral. Productivity is very good and absenteeism and staff changes are low.

Chris Argyris (1923-2013)

Argyris was an American organizational theorist and professor emeritus at Harvard University. He felt that the classical organizational models promoted what he called «immaturity», whose characteristics were the following:

– Passivity.

– Dependency.

– Behaving in a few ways.

– Banal interests.

– Short-term perspective.

– Subordinate position.

– Little self-awareness.

As a solution, Argyris proposed changing the focus on promoting a state of «maturity», looking for the opposite characteristics in employees:

– Activity.

– Independence (relative).

– Behave in various ways.

– Deeper interests.

– Long-term perspective.

– Equal or superior position.

– Self-awareness and self-control.


Enock, K. (2006) Healthknowledge.org.
McGregor, D. (1960). The Human Side of Enterprise. McGraw Hill Higher Education.
Grint, K. (1998). The Sociology of Work2nd edition, London, Polity
Allen J, Braham P and Lewis P (1992) Political and Economic forms of Modernity Polity London
Lean Production And Beyond Labor Aspects of a new production concept (1993) ILO Geneva

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