FAYOL AND MINTZBERG THEORY ON MANAGEMENT
Class: Management and Organization
FAYOL AND MINTZBERG THEORY ON MANAGEMENT
Management has had different interpretations from different perspectives by theorists.
Most of these theorists describe management as act of getting work done through people
efficiently and effectively. Fayol and Mintzberg theories complement each other. Fayol says
management system is a closed system. Mintzberg adds that the actual world is more than this.
The real world is an open system with multiple dynamics and interactions. Fayol’s bureaucratic
approach needs Mintzberg’s flexibility to handle modern day contingencies faced by managers in
organizations. Mintzberg considers the image of management which was developed from Fayol
as one of folklore. Over the years many managers in organizations across the world have been
introduced to Fayol’s theory. However many arguments prove Fayol’s theory more useful in
practice of management. Wren, D. A., Bedeian, A. G. , Breeze, J. D. (2002). Fayol said that
managers should keep the morale of their employees high and keep them motivated so they can
perform at their best. He believed that by focusing on management practices he would minimize
misunderstanding and increase efficiency in organization and started working on 14 principles of
management. Fayol gave us management as we would like it to be and Mintzberg gave us
management as it is. In so doing, it promulgates a set of new constructions of managerial
behavior – preferred managerial style (management as we would like it to be) and enacted
managerial style (management as it is). Fayol’s observations led him to specify managerial roles
and what they should do to achieve efficiency. Based on this observation there is a belief that
managers are contemplative and methodological planners. In real world, managers adapt to their
role and their behavior represents heterogeneity to action in specific context.
It can be noted that the work of the two theorists represent different views which are not
competing. The high level view of perceived inter-relationships shows significant extent to
which each of the models contain elements that represent similar ideas that support each other.
The different perspectives on management given by Fayol on the functions of management,
management tasks, role and control, which are logically related descriptions but distinct layers of
management. Thus, for a given set of roles carried out by managers, certain management
functions need to be carried out. In the same way, the manager’s roles of motivating staff –
including training – must go hand in hand with the activities they aim at achieving in the future –
planning, organizing, controlling and coordinating. This suggests that the theories of Fayol and
Mintzberg represent different levels of reality than real realities.
Mintzberg’s contribution is on managerial work where he asks what managers do and
then answers the question in terms of what he describes as working roles of managers. He says
the work of a manager is not that of the organization but the specified work of maintaining the
organization. To him, managers are in charge of organizations that they manage. In this way, an
organization needs a manager to ensure its purpose is served best as well as maintaining its
stability. The manager is a link between the organization and its surrounding. Mintzberg, H.
(2004). Organization management reforms are possible in the modern world by translation of the
theories given by Fayol and Mintzberg when managers understand implementation of managerial
and management behavior. Fayol implies bureaucracy and Mintzberg argues for flexible onsite
dynamic interactions. It is noted also that this bureaucracy includes a ceremonialist process to go
about things in all serviceable areas and tends to be rigid and slow to change adaptations with
reliance on top down control.
Fayol’s descriptive functions exist only as a guide to different situations. He prescribed
management as a science by giving definitions believed to be enacted in a systematic fashion.
Mintzberg asks whether managers are effective, not the management function. He notes that
managers fail if they are a poor fit for the role. This is true of all roles. What it takes to be a
successful role-occupant is a real question. However, if management is a tool, then we want to
know how to use it effectively regardless of who uses it. Role-occupants must achieve their goals
to be judged effective. However, it is possible to manage effectively even if goals are not
achieved. He notes that effective managers and effective management are different roles. Wren,
D. A., Bedeian, A. G. , Breeze, J. D. (2002). When Mintzberg started his research, execution was
the sole role requirement from managers but in today’s management roles innovation is very
critical. We no longer consider what a manager does managing since they can as well participate
in doing as they manage. From the foregoing, Mintzberg has focused on the role of a manager.
He found that managers communicate more informally, show bias of action and engage in brief.
He claims that observation makes his model of management assumption-free but he does in fact
assume that managing should be equated with what managers do. It is because they spend so
little time formally planning, organizing and controlling that he rejects this image of the
manager. Mintzberg, H. (1990).
In conclusion, even if Mintzberg says his theory on management is different from the
theory of Fayol, they are not totally the same but supplement each other given they express
similar thoughts. The only difference comes in the way the two theories are narrated. Mintzberg
was very critical of Fayol’s theory terming it as folklore. He says management is what managers
do and not about functions. He however recognizes managers as planners, controller, organizers
and coordinators of people – one of the roles Fayol gave in his theory. Fayol’s theory can be seen
as the original foundation for management which acts as a discipline and also as a profession to
modern managers in the organizations. He advocated for management education. His theory is
valuable and relevant for organizational leaders because he himself practiced management and
the same theories worked for him and the people he managed and worked with. His theory of
management functions aligns well with strategic leadership and management models and
theories. From the work of henry 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.
Mintzberg, H. (2004). Managers, not MBAs: A hard look at the soft practice of managing and
management development. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Mintzberg, H. (1990). The Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact; Leadership- HBR Mar- Apr 1990
Wren, D. A., Bedeian, A. G. , Breeze, J. D. (2002). The foundations of Henri Fayol’s
administrative theory. Management Decision, Vol. 40 Iss: 9, pp.906 – 918
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