It is difficult to accurately describe what constitutes a Manager’s vocation, and contemporary management education maintains a group of parameters or models by which a manager’s attributes are delineated. Specifically, the question of what describes a manager’s activities is generally studied in reference to the contemporary elements of functions, skills and roles as adopted from a combination of the original theories and works of management theorists and authors.
However it is argued that management contains a myriad of activities and factors that defy such simplistic compartmentalisation into contemporary models, and the theories and models are not definitive. This is reflected in the conflicting approaches observed from histories management theorists as well as the notion that management is not strictly a science, but an art as well.
Therefore, are the management models of functions, skills and roles of the manager effective in objectifying management?
In approaching the subject of what a manager does, we first outline the elements of functions, skills and roles in a managerial environment:
A function in a managerial context is the activity or job of the manager in carrying out the objectives of the organisation.
A skill in the context of management is a competent attribute that enables the efficient and effective utilisation of resources by the manager in an organisation for the benefit of the organisation’s goals.
A role in terms of a manager’s duties is a prescribed or expected behaviour associated with a particular position or status in a group or organisation (www.businessdictionary.com, 2011).
A manager’s activities and attributes are captured within these elements which have been constructed as models in management textbooks, passed down from historical studies and publications to assist the student to appreciate the role of the manager. However, the things that a manager does are so diverse and varied, and difficult to appreciate for anyone not exposed to the role that an accurate blueprint for management simply can’t exist. This is why theory and history are so important in management, for the theories and models that have been developed provide a framework and examples from history to refer to (Davidson 2009).
For example, contemporary management education presents us with the four-category typology of management functions:
Planning and decision making
Fayol initially proposed five elements: (planning, organising; coordination; command; and control) however theorist Luther Gulick expanded Fayol’s functions of management from five to seven by adding staffing, directing, reporting, and budgeting to planning, organising, and coordinating (Pryor, 2010) however the four-category typology has stood the test of time in terms of management education’s contemporary models.
In contrast to Fayol’s functions, Henry Mintzberg classified management functions/activities into three groups that are then amplified into ten management roles, “misrepresenting” the classical management functions as if they were labels for roles (Nothhaft 2010):
During the time of Mintzberg's writings, the specific tasks and skills required of managers were rapidly changing and he challenged Fayol’s ideas. Rather than believing that the manager operated mechanistically he found that managers were often unplanned, chaotic imperfect and wrong! (Deathridge 2011).
The ten management roles are not necessarily a requirement at every level or area of management, and the correct combination would be required in order to fulfill various positions successfully.
Further to the above examination of text book models for functions and roles, management studies...
References: Deathridge, R & Potter, M 2011‘A match made in heaven?’ Training Journal ISSN 1465-6523, p. 52
Peterson, T.O & Van Fleet, D.O 2004, ‘The ongoing legacy of R.L. Katz: An updated typology of management skills’, Management Decision, vol. 42, no. 10, pp. 1297-1308
Samson,D & Daft,R.L. 2003, Fundamentals of Management, Pacific Rim Edition, Thomson Learning Australia, Southbank
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