Comparing Fayol and Mintzberg’s Theories on Management

Topics: Management, Project management, Planning Pages: 3 (1098 words) Published: September 23, 2008
Management is a vague term which throughout the years many scientists have attempted to define. Is it the objectives of management or the roles one undertakes as a manager that best describes the work of managers? This is a question posed since 1971, when Henry Mintzberg established his contemporary theory on Management roles, which evidently differed to Henri Fayol’s 1949 classical theory on Management Functions. Fayol identifies five elements of management- planning, organising, co-ordinating, commanding and controlling all of which he believed were necessary to facilitate the management process. In comparison Mintzberg considers management activities to fall within three broad groups- interpersonal, informational and decisional which encompass his ten management roles of figurehead, leader, liaison, spokesperson, disseminator, monitor, resource allocator, entrepreneur, disturbance handler and negotiator. Although due to their differences, these theories can be treated as competing views, both can also be perceived as reinforcing the other as many parallels and similarities intrinsically exist. Consequentially the term ‘managerial style’ combines the two theories.

Mintzberg obtained his theory as a result of research based on observation. Hence, his roles directly depict what managers do. He argues that Fayol’s functions ‘do not describe the actual work of managers at all; they describe certain vague objectives of managerial work’ (Mintzberg 1971). As he observed the managers in his research, he found that all activities captured at lease one of his ten roles in practice whereas they could not be simplified to be known singularly as one of Fayol’s functions. For example, a manager sending a memo out to subordinates informing them of the outcome of the mornings meeting is directly taking on the informational role of disseminator- providing internal personnel with information obtained either external or internal of the organisation. While there is a...
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