Managers: Classical Management Functions

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Management has existed since the early days of humanity, Egyptians building pyramids and the Chinese irrigation systems etc. Classical management writers rose in the time of the industrial revolution in Europe and emphasized on a more formal approach to management. But since the beginning of the implementation of the managerial work, it has been consistently unclear as to what is the nature of a manager’s work? This question has been the basis of numerous texts and discussions over the years. Stephen J. Carrol and Dennis J. Gillen (1987) have tried to answer this question to the closest possibility in terms of practical implementation by comparing and analyzing the works of different scholars.

The classical management functions as per Fayol (1949), define a managers work to be the one pertaining to planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Over the period of time, multiple managerial books and academic journals have been based on the subdivisions of these five principles as per the theories of Miner (1971). But Mintzberg (1975) questioned Fayol’s classical managements functions and devised his own typology, which, like the classical functions, was gradually implemented in the academic world, but the two were never integrated in any study. Even other author’s like Kotter (1982) and Stewart (1974 ) have published their own typologies, which do not agree with the classical management functions. It has been clear due to such observations that author’s are having some difficulty in handling and converging these diverse perspectives on managerial work into one model of study. This academic paper elaborates more on the works by Fayol and Mintzberg, while addressing the key issue of whether the classical function is still relevant in today’s organizations or if Mintzberg model was more accurate in defining the theoretical description.

Henri Fayol was the first person to identify elements or functions of management. His five divisions of a...
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