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Fayol’s Theory of Management Essay

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Updated: Apr 6th, 2019


Management is based on the notion that all organizations have similar elements. It is observed that management contradicts the notion of organization whereby small units of a large organization are created.

The definition of management is said to be grounded on two notions. The first notion was engineered by French industrialist, Henry Fayol, which is to the effect that management is to be viewed in top down perspective.

His definition states that, management has similar elements and managers have common duties and responsibilities. According to Fayol, management must be manned by professionals, and they must get training as to be equipped with such skills (Fells & Michael, 2000).

On the other hand, the American engineer Fredrick Winslow Taylor has a contrary view to management has a bottom view organization which takes a contingent role in an organization. This essay has made a critical assessment to the different meanings pegged on the management in day to day practice according to Foyal.

The relevance of Foyal’s Management theory to 21st century managers will be discussed. This paper will show the extent of fayol’s contribution to management, how his ideas in management have been misapplied and the alternative to his theories (Daniel, 2001).

Explanation of Fayol’s concepts

Though Fayol’s theory of management is said to have developed during the 20th century, he has significantly influenced management perception today. He has been acknowledged as the founding proponent of the classical school of thought.

The appreciation of his school of thought has been witnessed through several criticisms by teachers of management. Some, having read the classical elaboration of management have termed Fayol a traveller of the scientific school of thought. It is agreeable that Fayol’s contribution to management is summed up in his fourteen general principles of management.

The fourteen principles form part of the famous classical management movement. The applicability of such theories in management today has been considered, and there is able literature covering that.

However, it is worth noting that Fayol’s ideas on management are said to have been substantially misrepresented and equally misapplied (Ritson, 2005).

Fayol’s contribution to management is undeniable, and the application of his concepts on management has been seen to yield fruits. On the other hand, there are contemporary writers who have deeply classified his work opening a door to many questions on the correct interpretation of his ideas.

The said authors have examined his ideology as represented, in comparison with his personal background, and how he is portrayed as a multidisciplinary pioneer of management. In the simplest forms of interpretation of management, Fayol is extremely remembered for his contribution to management. His contribution has been defined as three fold.

First, Fayol believed that business and organizational life was a combination of six key activities. These activities encompass finances, security, commercial, technical, accounting and management (Daniel, 2001).

He further defined and identified the components of managerial activity. It entails command, control, planning, organization, command and coordination. Thirdly, he advocated for fourteen principles, which are mainly the guiding rules to managers.

In other words, the above discussed threefold Fayol’s theory of management served as the fundamental theory which has a universal application. Arguably, his principles are said to form the basis of inspiration to successful managers.

In the area of dividing managers as a managerial principle in the contemporary view, today, Fayol’s ideology has been seriously applied (Mallin, 2010).

The fourteen principles of management formed the basis of pioneer management, but he is credited for his contribution in founding the administrative school of management theory. The management of theory based on managing the entire organization is said to have been Fayol’s theory.

His contribution attracted many associates who generated the interest in the administrative management school of thought. The great century turn around and perception of managerial activities are said to have been changed by Fayol by borrowing Taylor’s management theory. A t one point Fayolism is seen to be in competition with Taylorism, but the notion is resolved by having a representation of Fayol as a functionalist (McLean, 2011).

Amidst criticism of Fayolism to be inflexible and authoritarian generalist, many contemporary companies have widely used his principles in management. In the fourteen principles of management, Fayol suggests that remuneration is essential and good planning.

The Apple Company has demonstrated this principle by highly paying its employees hence getting competent professionals who have continuously delivered quality results. Fayol also advocates for division of labor.

The Toyota Company has employed this principle whereby different employees develop different parts hence reducing the cost used in training hence making profits (Torstendahl, 1991).

The critics of Fayolism have acknowledged that his ideology has permeated in 21st century, and Universities and Business schools have persistently taught these ideas to managers. The effects and application of the ideas in contemporary management has been witnessed in Apple Inc. and Toyota Inc. as afore discussed.

It is crystal clear that Fayol is considered as a pioneer of contemporary management. His ideas of planning and control; the importance of managers, their role in organizations and the dire need to have managers with professional managerial education can not be underestimated. His advocacy places him as the main pillar of managerial theory and practice today.

Fayol remains unmoved by numerous criticisms, and his approach to organization research portrays him as a manager with a deeper appreciation of dynamic corporate and business world. The contemporary managers have a lot to borrow from his theory and its applicability in diverse organizational environments (Usunier, 1998).

Relevance of Fayol’s ideas and value for managers of the 21st century

From the onset, it is imperative to note that the definition advocated for by Fayol approximately ninety five years ago has found its way into the modern management, and it is widely cited today. The strength of his theory is grounded on its applicability and general usage in various organizations.

The outlined duties and responsibilities of managers with elaborate scope of managers job has substantially assisted in fostering contemporary management. The use of Fayol’s fourteen principles of management in contemporary management today is worth re examination (Schermerhorn, 2001).

To start with, he advocated for forecast and planning in management. According to him this was analyzing the foreseeable future and setting plans of action. In his words, managers were supposed to engage in forecasting by evaluating the environment and considering the drastic ways to change it.

The theory has received massive application in today’s global economy whereby an organization needs to counter competition through fore planning. Planning and strategizing have become effective tools of every manager so as to get impressive results (McLean, 2011).

Secondly, Fayol advocated for organizations to show high levels of organizing so as to support optimum conduct in the organization’s activities. In his view, the implementation of organization required appropriate infrastructure.

The merging of different parts of the organization to work together in harmony was Fayol’s ideology. The ideology has been witnessed in contemporary management whereby the human and finance department have been organized to work together (Franke, 2002).

Thirdly, command as put forward by Fayol meant the ability and responsibility of a manager to be at the forefront in working towards the realization of the organizations set goals. The classical thought of command in management was advanced at a time when managers had a firm monitoring on the running of organizations The word has not passed critics eyes unnoticed and some have considered it draconian (Ritson, 2005).

The misinterpretation of the words usage in contemporary management has considerably been witnessed. Though the word has been replaced in 21st century management, the principle remains the same. Leadership has been used to describe the motivation and influential role of a leader in guiding various individuals in the organization towards achieving the organizations goals.

The highly used word today is leadership but the principle is to guide junior staff in the organization to achieve the desired goals. The engagement of employees in different jobs and giving managers a chance to learn their employees from their strengths and weaknesses as portrayed in the way they handle challenges of the job.

The contemporary management has applied the principle widely. For instance, Steve Jobs applied the command principle hence making Apple one of the renowned companies in the world (Fells & Michael, 2000).

Fourth, Fayol advocated for coordination in organizations. He stated that managers in organizations should work towards initiating a unified relationship in the organization. The efforts and activities of the organization are supposed to be harmonized by the manager. In contemporary management, the principle is reflected whereby managers engage in coordination geared towards maintaining synergy and symbiosis.

This is made possible by harmonizing the organizations internal and external activities. In the managerial words, the process includes input conversion and output process. Different organizations have incorporated coordination in their organizations whereby the role of harmonizing different activities has given out excellent results (Daniel, 2001).

Fifth, Fayol recognized the importance of having control of the organization. In his reasoning, proper control was a driving force which ensured that the activities in the organizations adhere to the existing rules. The control principle works hand in hand with command principle. The application of the principle in the 21st century contemporary management has enhanced observance of fundamental responsibilities by managers.

The main responsibility of a manager to ensure that operations in the organization are in conformity with the budget and the existing plan is achieved through effective control. Planning, strategizing and organization depend on proper control (McLean, 2011).

In their role of controlling the activities of an organization, managers are advised to maintain of the situation of having the proper relations to prevent any deviations from the initial plans.

The control also helps in preventing any forms of disruptions in the organization. Control has been said to be the defining element of a manager. Without control, the managerial job would be irrelevant since planning, organizing and strategizing have reliance on control (Mallin, 2010).

The foregoing discussion demonstrates the Fayolism role in Contemporary management in the 21st century. Managers in the twenty first century are faced with numerous contemporary issues which can not be counteracted without an appreciation of Foyal’s fourteen principles. It is worth noting that the five discussed principles are applicable in contemporary management in the same way as they were used by Faloy.

The experienced periods of change in the notions of management, in the contemporary setting, have necessitated a drastic change on the ideologies to deal with the internal and external contexts of organization (Brunsson, 2008).

The contemporary management is calling for changes in the notions of planning and strategizing so as to counter the global demands. Organizations existing in the 21st century are faced with the challenges associated with the organization and planning hence requiring transformational leadership and new control techniques.

The control evident in the Fayol’s theory maybe partly inapplicable since looser control is now desired compared to the stringent control during Fayol’s times. The mark that he left on the history of management has proved unerasable through out different epochs of management, and his theory has stood the test of time (Pryor & Taneja, 2010).


Fayol’s notions of management have formed the basis of contemporary management. His classical management school of thought has been widely subjected to criticism. Numerous debates have been formed focusing on watering down Fayol’s fourteen principles, but the principles have stood the test of time.

Contemporary organizational leaders have repeatedly applied Fayol’s principles in management, and the results have been impressive. The global trends have pushed for new managerial roles hence adjustments have been made to fit the new context.

Strategizing, planning and control of organizations call for extensive means of ensuring that they are in conformity with the new challenges. The control advocated by Fayol may require lose application in an organization, due to stability and presence of qualified staff in many organizations today.

Reference List

Brunsson, H K 2008, Some Effects of Fayolism, Int. Studies of Mgt. & Org, vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 30–47.

Daniel, A W 2001, “Henri Fayol as strategist: a nineteenth century corporate turnaround”, Management Decision, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 475 – 487

Fells, M J 2000, “Fayol Stands the Test of Time.” Journal of Management History, vol. 6, No. 8, pp. 345–360.

Franke, U J 2002, Managing virtual web organizations in the 21st century issues and challenges, Idea Group Pub., Hershey, PA.

Mallin, C A 2010, Handbook on international corporate governance, Cheltenham [u.a.], Edward Elgar.

McLean, J 2011, Fayol – standing the test of time, British Journal of Administrative Management, vol. 74, No. 32.

Pryor, M G & Taneja, S 2010, “Henri Fayol, practitioner and theoretician revered and reviled”, Journal of Management History, vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 489 – 503.

Ritson, P A 2005, Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management, British Journal of Management, vol. 16, pp. 175–194.

Schermerhorn, J R 2001, Management, Wiley, New York [u.a.],

Torstendahl, R 1991, Bureaucratisation in northwestern Europe, 1880-1985: domination and governance, Routledge, London.

Usunier, J C 1998, International and cross-cultural management research, Sage, London,

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