Fayol and Mintzberg

Topics: Management, Project management, Control Pages: 6 (2179 words) Published: February 25, 2015
Introduction

Since Fayol left his general manager office, separated management from business operation and studied it, management has become an independent subject. A number of academics and entrepreneurs are desirous to find what management is and how to be a successful manager. Therefore, through varied approaches, many different views about management has been appearing such as Fayol’s function theory (1949) which based on his owe managing experience and Mintzberg’s 10 roles theory (1973) which came from observing five chief-executive officers. Furthermore, Mintzberg regarded Fayol’s theory as “folklore”. It seems that Fayol’s theory has been made redundant by Mintzberg’s study. The purpose of this paper, however, is to present that Fayol’s administrative theory still has a practical significance and has not been eliminated by Mintzberg’s view because their conceptions are compatible instead of conflicting (Garolland and Gillen, 1987).

This essay will begin with a brief review and analysis of Fayol’s and Mintzberg’s managerial theories. Then, make a critical comparison between their conceptions. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn which will summarize that Fayol’s classic analysis of the management function still has a great influence now and is not made redundant much by the modern study of management which is Mintzberg’s.

Brief review of Fayol and Mintzberg’s managerial theories

Nearly 60 years ago, since Fayol’s ideas (1949) about what managers should do appeared in English version and published as General and Industrial Management, debates about his theories have never stopped. Fayol is incontestable one of the most significant classical organisational and management theorists. Used to be a successful Managing Director in a French mining and metallurgical company, from 1918 to 1925, he summarized his amazing achievements on the basis of his 30 years career and devoted to perfect and disseminate these administrative theories (Fayol, 1949). According to his own experience, Fayol (1949) defined management as 5 “elements” (planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling) and 14 “principles”, which were once popular in MBA courses and among managers (Caroll and Gillen, 1987).

Only after nearly 30 years, however, Mintzberg presented another managing theory. After studied the behaviours of five chief-executive officers, Mintzberg (1973) stated that Fayol’s functions included little about what managers actually do and regarded it as “folklore”. He discovered that managers mainly have verbal contacts and meeting, have such characters as doing a mountain of brief, variety and fragmented works, and are the combination of ten different roles which can be classified by Interpersonal Roles (figurehead, leader, liaison), Information Roles (monitor, disseminator, spokesperson), and Decision Roles (entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator) (Mintzberg, 1973).

Analysis of Fayol and Mintzberg’s managerial theories

Although Mintzberg (1973) use his researches to prove that Fayol’s managerial theory is “folklore”, it does not mean Mintzberg’s ideas are perfect and Fayol’s theory has many drawbacks. In fact, both of their ideas have strengths and weaknesses.

Just as Mintzberg thought, because of the limitations of his own experience and the age in which he lived, Fayol’s management theory has some deficiencies. Contradictory of Fayol’s ideas is one of the weaknesses (March ad Simon, 1993), which causes managers cannot follow them under the actual situation sometimes. For example, “division of work” is one of the 14 principles. It requests that works should be allocated according to individuals’ strengths and specialties in order to increase efficiency (Fayol, 1949). However, at the same time, everybody should obey another principle which is “unity of command”. It means that it is impossible for a manager to receive advice and guidance from other departments which do...


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