Management

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Henry Mintzberg considers the image of management which has developed from the work of Henri Fayol as one of folklore rather than fact. However, it could be argued that the image portrayed by Fayol is superior to that of Mintzberg, and the latter’s description is of rather ineffective management! Who do you think is right?

Henry Mintzberg and Henri Fayol may have came from totally different era’s but since there is still no definitive answer to ‘what is management’ and how can you manage effectively there has been lots of discussions and criticisms of theirs and other theorists ideas. Yet both Mintzberg and Fayol received praise for their work even though they didn’t use the same method to come to their answers.

Henry Mintzberg is an academic and author from Canada he has spent the majority of his life writing and teaching on management and business. His work The managers Job: Folklore and fact(Mintzberg 1975) Discusses past theories on management and how a manager should act in order to be successful. His view is that past publication on management have talked to much on theory and have left out the answer to the question ‘what do managers do’.

In his study he looked into what managers actually do by studying 5 chief executives himself, shadowing them for 1 week each so he could see everything they did on a day to basis as well as reading into many previous documents in which others had taken a similar style of scientific management. Looking at and breaking down everything the managers do and comparing it to what managers are supposed to do if they follow the wise words of the classical theorists.

Mintzberg goes on to say that managers concentrate a lot on verbal communication in order to stay fully on top of everything that is happening now, apposed to what has happened in the past. This means the managers consider things like gossip more important then detailed reports on a firm’s performance.

He breaks down what he observed as the 10 roles of management (pg 231).Which is further categorised by 3 groups of roles: interpersonal roles, informational roles and decision roles. This is supposed to be a guideline of what managers have to do however he does explain that it isn’t necessary what manager should do. His solution to help managers to understand management is through 3 specific areas based around decentralising information, digesting information less abruptly and by making better use of their time and obligations.

At the time Mintzberg’s view was something that had been previously unexplored, there was huge recognition of the theories he called ‘folklore’ and there was previous evidence of scientific research into what managers do, evident in a lot of the documents even he cites from such as (Rosemary Stewart 1967 and Carlson 1951). But his view was different to previous scientific studies as he looked into what the prominent roles in management were and how things were done differently to the textbook descriptions of management. His view was more realistic in the way that his was based on real situations.

Mintzbers'g work helps us to understand management and through his study makes the strengths and weaknesses of the managers he observes easier to see and understand. He sees that management is not all about planning, observing and organising. It’s a lot more to do with communication of information how it can be done effectively and how it can be done ineffectively. He says that situations are always changing and that the manager has to be aware of that and able to act on something quickly.

‘The managers’ roles’ gives a good basis of what is required in a management job what tasks you have to deal with but as these roles aren’t clearly done efficiently in the managers Mintzberg studies it does question if these are purely the roles of what an inefficient manager does and that the roles of a efficient manager might be completely different. Another problem with this study is that the...
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