Around the world, millions of people devote their time to performing managerial functions in organizations. Everyday they clearly face a challenge to effectively and efficiently manage both the organization and the people working within it. But what managers actually do and what managers should do – this is the frequent question? There were many attempts to answer it. The response of Henri Fayol was unique. With his work General and Industrial Management (1949, in France 1916) he is hailed as as the earliest pioneer and advocate of the task of management (Parker and Ritson, 2005). However, as each theory, this one has its opponents as well. Perhaps the best known critic of the classical functions for describing managerial work is Henry Mintzberg, who negated Fayol’s evidence and presented in The Nature of Managerial Work (1973) completely different viewpoint of management.
This essay will first outline and explain strengths and limitations in two conceptions. Finally, it will attempt to demonstrate that the descriptions of the classical managerial functions by Fayol have relevance for managerial work description and also skills in these functions are associated with greater organizational unit effectiveness, whereas Mintzberg’s arguments are much more critical and represent rather ineffective approach to management.
To understand Fayol’s legacy and to be able to generalize from it, it is necessary to familiarize reader with it. As an early management practitioner and theorist, Fayol has been credited with laying the foundations upon which contemporary management theory and praxis has been built (Pryor and Taneja, 2010). He is best remembered for a three-fold contribution to management thought. First, rely on many years as a manager, Fayol divided business operation into six interrelated activities: (1) technical (production, manufacture, adaptation); (2) commercial (buying, selling, exchange); (3) financial (search for and optimum use of...
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