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Fayol’s Management Theory Essay

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Updated: Dec 8th, 2019


Since the time when people have become the center of the manufacturing and business process, management as the theoretical discipline attracted much interest.

There are a lot of different scientists and scholars who tried to develop different theories devoted to management, however, only few theories were considered as the most effective, some of them are used up to now.

Nevertheless, even the most effective theories have ever been put under question. Henri Fayol was a French management theorist whose theories, being developed in the beginning of the 20th century, remain up to date even one hundred years later.

Fayol’s management theory is put under question by many theorists, still most of them are sure that Fayol managed to create the basis for management theory which should be developed and used now.

Being questioned and contradicted for many times, Fayol’s management theory remains one of the most effective and frequently used theories in management.

Fayol’s Management Theory

Putting Fayol’s management under question, people should rely on another theory which seems more optimal for management. Brunsson (2008) compares and contrasts Fayol’s management theory and Taylor’s managerial practice trying to prove that Fayol is mistaken and the optimization and simplification of the working process brings success faster than structured and perfectly organized work.

Comparing and contrasting these two theories, Brunsson (2008) tries to contradict the similarity in management of each company as it comes out of Fayol’s management. Planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling are the stages of the effective management offered by Fayol’s.

Trying to contradict this theory, Brunsson (2008) wants to make sure that the simplification of work is more effective than perfect structure of the working process. Taylor’s managerial practice demands from the employees of the company to make sure that they use their time as effectively as they can, trying to avoid the stages which are unnecessary.

However, this is not always correct as avoiding the schedule offered by Fayol, namely planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling, or at least skipping one step, the company may appear in a complicated situation.

It is easy to remember the Toyota Recall Crisis in 2009-2010 when about 7.5 million vehicles were recalled due to the failure of the final controlling stage. The vehicles were released at the market without thorough consideration of the appropriateness and safety of the vehicles.

The situation is corrected and it seems that the company would follow all the necessary stages without trying to simplify any of them as Toyota was unlucky to experience the difficulty with improving public image after such a serious failure.

McLean (2011) is one of those who are sure that the generalized nature of Fayol’s management theory is the main guarantee of its success. To forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control are the main stages which are to be completed at each company no matter what is produces and which business it runs.

Each of the Fayol’s stages may be divided into sub-stages, the process may be developed and the stages may be added, however, these central stages are to be completed. Trying to apply the generalized vision of Fayol management stages, McLean (2011) uses the following examples. Forecasting as the first stage of Fayol’s theory presupposes the look into future.

Each company is to consider what it wants and how it is going to achieve its goals. Effective management is impossible without the planning stage.

Nowadays, “to organize requires managers to implement an appropriate infrastructure, which will optimize the organization’s systems, resources, procedures, processes and services and enable knowledge to be disseminated to those who need it, when they need it” (McLean 2011, p. 33) and Fayol’s applies these skills into the organizational stage.

The command stage in the contemporary world is substituted by the notion ‘leadership’, however, the meaning is not changed. All the department and processes of the contemporary business and manufacturing are interconnected. Therefore, Fayol’s stage of co-ordination may not be excluded from the working process and management theory.

Finally, each modern process is completed with thorough control. Moreover, the process may be subjected to monitoring at different stages that makes modern management dependent from control. Therefore, all the principles of Fayol’s management are used at the companies, therefore, the idea of generalization is supported with facts.

McLean’s (2011) revision of Fayol’s theory helps the reader draw a conclusion about the changes which have occurred with his theory to make sure that it still works in the contemporary business.

The changes are slight, still, Parker and Ritson (2005) are sure these changes are unnecessary due to the common improper vision of Fayol’s management theory.

Studying Fayol’s management principles, Parker and Ritson (2005) tried to understand the deepest sense and to uncover “traces of ideas and concepts that anticipated aspects of the human relations movement, systems-based contingency theory, the movement towards greater employee involvement in decision-making and elements of knowledge management” (p. 175).

Parker and Ritson (2005) never contradicted the effective implementation of the Fayol’s fourteen principles of management into contemporary life, they just tried to understand where the modern scholars were mistaken in interpreting Fayol’s ideas.

The main fallacy of the modern theorists in direction of Fayol’s principles of management remains the planning one. According to the contemporary scholars planning is the ability to consider the goals and to achieve them by means of following other stages which are more important.

However, Parker and Ritson (2005) managed to prove in their article that the stage of planning is the most essential one as, according to Fayol. “Managing means looking ahead” (Parker & Ritson 2005, p. 180) according to Fayol, therefore, the planning stage is the central one, but not just the background.

Wren (1995) and Spatig (2009) are sure that the implementation of the Fayol’s theory in the modern learning is an effective method to make sure that students who study management will understand that they are on a correct path. Fayol’s management theory perfectly fits the studying program of many universities and teachers apply to this theory with pleasure.

Using Fayol’s management theory as the basis for teaching management, modern teachers present it in two ways, the classic one and the changed. The classic Fayol’s theory is used to show the basis for the management process. Many scholars, and Wren (1995) and Spatig (2009) agree with this fact, are sure that Fayol’s theory is the skeleton for modern management.

Theory is important and applying Fayol’s theory as the main data for consideration, modern educational program also uses this theory as the practical model which may be reconsidered, developed and changed. One hundred years passes from the time when the theory was developed and it is obvious that some of the aspects should be changed, however, the main idea is unchangeable.

Wren (1995) tried to consider the way how the theory was developed studying each stage of Fayol’s life. His principles are based on the personal experience, therefore, it is impossible to contradict the theoretical and practical value of the principles which helped the company to remain prosperous.

Spatig (2009) is sure that Fayol’s theory may be used in teaching direction, however, he is assured that this is the only direction for application of his theory. Spatig (2009) does not believe into practical use of Fayol’s theory because of the ignorance of the human factor in the model.

Using Fayol’s management theory as the basis for studying, Spatig (2009) is sure that this will help students understand what they are to base on, which scheme they are to follow.

However, Spatig (2009) contradicts the possibility to apply to the Fayol’s management theory as to the practical model. Modern world has changed and Spatig (2009) doubts that the modern direction to the human resources as the central source of company prosperity may apply Fayol’s theory. Spatig’s (2009) vision is rather contradicting and frustrating.

Trying to understand whether the author of the article is correct in the critical opinion about Fayol’s theory or not, additional research was conducted. It was found out that Fayol himself never considered his model ideal and he agreed that the information he applies is just the skeleton which should be developed and adapted to the needs of company, time, and people (Cole 2004).

Therefore, Spatig’s (2009) ideas about inappropriateness of the use of Fayol’s theories in the modern times are ungrounded. The theory which has been supported by many scholars and which successful practical implementation may be observed cannot be inappropriate. The universal use of Fayol’s theory with slight modifications is a norm.

Wren (2001) considers the situation when Fayol was a CEO manager and saved the company from liquidation. The main purpose of this article is to consider when the principles he developed while his work the only saving mechanism or other ideas and practices were used.

According to Wren (2001), Fayol has just changed the way of running the company and these steps helped it to recover from crisis. Studying the steps taken by Fayol and discussed by Wren (2001), it becomes obvious that they may be applied to the contemporary situations with the slight changes.

The changes should have the formal character as the principles of management which were applied to the company may work in the modern conditions. Management is a structured model which requires from people specific actions. Fayol’s management theory is exactly the one which presents the model.

Pryor and Taneja (2010) conduct the comparative analysis of Fayol’s management theory with the theories of other theorists and practicians. The differences are numerous, however, there is one particular feature which unites all other theories compared to Fayol’s one.

All the theories, considered by Pryor and Taneja (2010) as the contradiction to Fayol’s idea, are directed at one specific aspect of management. Therefore, being the contemporary theories, they are unable to cover the whole managing process.

The peculiarity of Fayol’s managing principles is that directing at the main stages of management, he offered the activities and presented the detailed discussion of the management processes which occur in the company.

Fayol’s theories are based on practice, therefore, they are alive and deserving attention in the modern world. Most of those who try to contradict Fayol’s theories apply theory without practical support, while all Fayol’s theories are based on practice, therefore, he is still valued and respected in the modern world.

Of course, at the beginning of the 1900’s Fayol could not predict the situation and the conditions which exist now, nevertheless, practical implementation of the discussed theories help him remain popular.

The comparison and contrast of Fayol’s management theory with other theories of the contemporary scholars just help us make sure that the idea which were checked at practice one hundred years ago may be used now with slight change and adaptation.


Therefore, it may be concluded that Fayol’s theories may be applied in the contemporary companies. One of the main values of his model is that having checked it at practice, Fayol managed to make it ideal.

Being the scheme for work, the theory under consideration may be changed, adapted and widen, however, none of the elements may be deleted as in this case the model will be spoiled.

The supplement of the stages and sub-stages is important and necessary as time passed and some moments should be reconsidered. Those who still doubt the effectiveness of Fayol’s theory and do not trust the research completed in the sphere should practice it.

The literature review in this paper proves that Fayol’s management principles are successfully used in the contemporary conditions.

Reference List

Brunsson, KH 2008, ‘Some Effects of Fayolism’, International Studies of Management & Organisation, vol. 38, no. 1, Spring, pp 30-47.

Cole, GA 2004, Management Theory and Practice, Cengage Learning EMEA, London.

McLean, J 2011, ‘Fayol – standing the test of time’, British Journal of Administrative Management, Spring, pp 32-33.

Parker, LD & Ritson, PA 2005, ‘Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management’, British Journal of Management, vol. 16, pp 175-194.

Pryor, MG & Taneja, S 2010, ‘Henri Fayol, practitioner and theoretician – revered and reviled’, Journal of Management History, vol. 16, issue 4, pp 489-503.

Spatig, L 2009, ‘Rediscovering Fayol: Parallels to Behavioralist Management and Transformational Leadership’, Northeast Business & Economics Association Proceedings, pp 196-199.

Wren, DA 1995, ‘Henri Fayol: Learning from experience’, Journal of Management History, vol. 1, issue 3, pp 5 – 12.

Wren, DA 2001, ‘Henri Fayol as strategist: a nineteenth century corporate turnaround’, Management Decision, vol. 39, issue 6, pp 475-487.

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