Life and Works of Henri Fayol

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This topic paper covers the overview of the life of management theorist, Henri Fayol, the development of his key works, and looks into the environment which influenced Fayol’s development of theories. This paper also gives a review of relevance of his theories in today’s context.

Born in 1841 in Istanbul, Turkey, Henri Fayol received his education at a mining school at Saint Etienne and graduated in 1860. He started off as an engineer in a mining company, Compagnie de Commentry-Fourchambeault-Decazeville in Commentry. He was later appointed as the Director in 1888 (Wren & Bedeian 2009). Fayol realized managerial ability was required for businesses to succeed and should be taught in schools. He therefore developed management ideas through personal experience as Chief Executive, and wrote ‘elements’ of administration in “Administration Industrielle et Generale”, which was published in 1961 (Wren & Bedeian 2009).

Key Works
Managerial abilities that he felt were essential in a manager include physical, mental and moral qualities, general education, specialized knowledge and experience (Wren & Bedeian 2009). The absence of management training in schools made Fayol see the need for management theory and identified fourteen principles of management (Fayol, 1949) to serve as guidelines to help managers resolve work problems. Fayol was the first person to identify the functions of a manager's job. The "management process" was represented by five elements: Planning, organizing, command, coordination and control (Wren & Bedeian 2009). Planning was one of the most important elements in ensuring business success as it predicts future events that determine the next move of the company. Organizing involved ways which organizational structure is developed as well as the flow of communication and authority. Commanding is how managers direct employees through effective communication and the use of discipline and remuneration. Coordinating is the process of creating relationship among organization’s efforts to achieve common goals and controlling looks at how managers evaluate performance of employees (Montana & Charnov 2000).

Political Factors
Poor working conditions in the 1890s and strikes in 1900’s were the cause of long working hours and low wages, which influenced Fayol’s development of management theories, specifically his principal “division of work” and “remuneration”.

Before 1892, no regulations were established to govern the number of working hours for workers. From 1892 to 1906, laws were passed to curb long working hours, hence the introduction of standard working hours from ten hours daily to sixty hours per week with a rest day. However, workers created several strikes from 1906 - 1910, as they wanted higher wages and shorter working days for them (Pierre, 1984). In view of the political unrest, Fayol developed his principle of “division of work” to minimize the wastage of resources, which decreases the efficiency of the organization. Workers and managers always work on the same matters to increase the output of work. However, output was reduced when a change in work leads to a change in adaptation. Fayol also believed that the remuneration of the workers should be fair and provide satisfaction to both the employees and the firm. This includes paying the workers by rates, profit sharing etc (Fayol, 1949).

Social Factors
In a speech delivered to his colleagues in the mineral industry at 1900, Fayol addressed the need to create principles of management, and used France’s education system to describe the lack of management education (Wren, Bedizen & Breeze, 2002). Education focused on mathematical and technical skills, which were the main subjects for the enrolment tests. Subjects such as management skills, accountancy, history, physics and moral education were barely taught or excluded. Professors taught subjects for the purpose of passing scientific knowledge to the students, which...
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