Within this essay the arguments andideas of both Henri Fayol and Henry Mintzberg will be identified and discussedrelating specifically to the argument around which is superior when consideringefficiency in management. To start, the essay will discuss Fayol’s theory onthe definition and role of management and, considering support from othertheorists, it responds to the idea that Fayol’s ideas have not been supersededby more contemporary approaches. Mintzberg’s ideas are then discussed, drawingupon support from sources such as the human relations theorists providingevidence against Fayol’s beliefs before debating the relevance of Fayol’s ideasin modern management.
Whether Fayol and Mintzberg’s ideas are truly differentwill then be discussed drawing upon decision-making theorists to evidence thedifferent sides of the debate. Lastly, this essay will discuss whether thedescription style put forward by Mintzberg is better than the prescriptiondiscussed by Fayol. To finish I will conclude the essay drawing upon theevidence supplied by the various sources. Henri Fayol theorised five elementswhich define the role of management and 14 principles of how to managesuccessfully which were cited within Pugh and Hickson (2003) using the Englishtranslated version of Fayol’s management book. Other theorists support Fayol’sidea of management such as the classical theorist Weber and Taylor. Weber believedorganisations he called bureaucratic were the most common type of business ascited in Pugh and Hickson (2003). His ideas support many of Fayol’s principlessuch as unity of command and the scalar chain.
Taylor’s theory of scientificmanagement (cited by Pugh and Hickson, 2003) also supports Fayol as he believesthat workers need to be told exactly what to do and their actions controlled ina bureaucratic way. Support from more modern theorists such as Child (2010) canbe found. Child (2010) believes that historically businesses, particularlylarge corporations, have strived towards efficiency and economies of scaleusing a standardised bureaucratic structure. Child may have used the wordhistorically however, some would argue that Fayol’s principles and Weber’sbureaucratic structure are still seen in businesses today.
Global businessesstill maintain this historic structure with fast food companies such asMcDonalds striving for efficiency in producing a very standardised productacross the world. Rhodes and Westwood say that Ritzer describes McDonalds as aneo-Weberian business due to its four principles of focus; efficiency,calculability, predictability and technological control. This supports the ideathat the classical theorists are still present in industry today as elements ofFayol’s principles are still seen within these bureaucratic organisations eventhough he published his ideas almost 70 years ago. This supports the idea thatFayol’s theory is superior to Mintzberg’s as elements of Fayol’s 14 principlescan still be seen in modern industry despite the time that has passed. Mintzberg (1975) states that, despitethe evidence provided by Fayol and his supporters ideas previously discussed, managingis not about organising, coordinating, planning and controlling.
Mintzbergbelieves that what managers should do in an idealistic world is different tothe reality. He is supported by human relations theorists such as Mayo’sHawthorne studies which as cited by Pugh and Hickson (2003) identified informalgroups within workplaces which impact upon the success of management and theneed for businesses to think about employee aspirations rather than thinking ofthem as expendable parts in a machine as bureaucracy and Fayol suggest is themost efficient way. Barnard and McGregor also agree with Mintzberg’s ideas as Pughand Hickson (2003) summarise that research from Barnard suggests formalbusinesses must become more informal to be effective within their industry. McGregoralso attempts to disprove Fayol according to Pugh and Hickson (2003) identifyingtwo types of people with Theory X and Theory Y which are motivated by self-actualisation or security suggesting motivationsother than remuneration which Fayol suggested was the only way. These theoristssuggest that a new type of organisation other than bureaucracy is becomingdominant with more informal structuring supporting Mintzberg’s argument thatFayol’s ideas are incorrect and outdated. An example of this modern structurewas seen when Oticon restructured their business. Eskerod and Darmer (1994)researched this shift identifying the need for innovation and adaptation withinthe industry as the main motivator for the company’s restructuring.
The companybecome a spaghetti organisation in 1991 and within a year the revenue of thecompany rose by 13 percent according to Eskerod and Darmer showing the efficiencyof the company improved more with this loose structure then with thetraditional bureaucratic structure which Fayol supported. This loose structure supportsMintzberg’s ideas to an extent with an emphasis on communication between allgroups within the business forming personal as well as professionalrelationships with employees. Managers therefore develop the respect needed tolead rather than just having the authority to do so which is something Fayolfailed to recognise in his work. This structure also supports human relationstheorists rather than the classical bureaucracy and implies that another aspectof Fayol’s theory was not superior to Mintzberg in efficiency as the statisticsabove show. Similarly to Mintzberg, Luthans (1988) sought to understand thereality of management by looking at real managers in workplaces. His researchmostly agreed with Mintzberg with the discovery that managers focus on contrastingfunctions with aims of either being successful or effective. Some of Fayol’sideas are still mentioned within Luthans work with a small amount of time spenton traditional activities described by Fayol as the key roles of managers suchas planning and controlling. The support for Mintzberg’s ideas is strong withthe support from the human relations theorists suggesting an alternative toFayol’s ideas.
However, Luthans suggests that despite this alternative Fayol’s principlesare still present within traditional activities performed by managers. Thereduced importance of Fayol’s principles could be due to the shift in theindustry from manufacturing to more services particularly in the UK. This canbe seen in Annual Business Survey produced by the Office for NationalStatistics (2016) which identified that in 2016 there were almost 150 thousandproduction enterprises compared to almost 2.5 million non-financial serviceenterprises in the UK. The preference oforganic structures could be due to the nature of the service industry comparedwith the manufacturing industry as the service industry is more personalseeking to please customers directly. However, manufactures seek to createproducts in the most efficient way to create customer satisfaction so abureaucratic structure may be more appealing to managers in this situation aslong as innovation is not necessary. Despite the support for Mintzberg’sideas, how effective Mintzberg’s manager really is could be questioned andwhether Mintzberg’s idea of an efficient managers is truly different fromFayol’s. The evidence for this can be found in Mintzberg’s own work as heconcludes that the way things are done by real managers is not effective asmanagers must make rational decisions based on the information they havethinking about the best course of action which Fayol touches on with hisprecision, flexibility and continuity aims.
In his conclusion he contradictshis own statements as he states that it is folklore that managers are’reflective systematic planners’ (Mintzberg, 1975) but in his conclusion, hestates that an effective manager takes time out of his schedule to plan aheadwhich is exactly what Fayol said was one of the managers roles. Mintzberg et alseem to address this contradiction as Boddy (2011) cites that rational ways ofdealing with problems are not effective when dealing with complex situations. Simon(as cited in Pugh and Hickson, 1996) agrees that the traditional way of makingdecisions in a completely rational way, which was supported by Fayol’s scalarchain, is not plausible but making a decision that satisfices is a suitablealternative. It could therefore be concluded that although Fayol’s idea issuperior in theory as it develops optimum profit it is not a realistic approachto decision making given the time restrictions and complexity of some issues. Usingthis reasoning Mintzberg could be seen as more superior to Fayol as fast paceddecision-making is more realistic for managers in high pressure environmentsthan making slow but fully informed decisions. It is clear from the evidencesupplied previously in this essay that Fayol and Mintzberg have differentapproaches to management as Mintzberg looked at real world situations and theactions of successful managers at his time whilst Fayol used his experience tosuggest the best way, in his opinion, to manage the most efficient way. Lamond(2004) argues that both Mintzberg and Fayol are correct in their opinions asFayol provides us with an ideal outlook whilst Mintzberg tells us howmanagement really is. Lamond suggests that if we view these two ideas as equalin superiority a new theory is generated based on management behaviour with apreferred style of management that provides optimum benefits and what Lamond(2004) calls and ‘enacted style’ of managers which is based on Mintzberg’smanagers real behaviour.
Fells (2000) agrees with Lamond coming to the sameconclusion that Fayol’s theory is still relevant to the business environmenttoday and that Fayol’s ideas relate to modern theorists such as Mintzberg. Theseopinions show a balanced opinion of both theorist’s views within the businessworld today however, a view in favour of one or the other could develop if apreference for descriptive or prescriptive work is clear. Mintzberg (1975)argues that Fayol’s ideas are too idealistic to try to implement and some mightagree with this due to the evidence he provides about real managers. Although,the counterargument for this could be that just because most managers dosomething a certain way does not mean that it is the correct way to do it. Somemay prefer to strive towards Fayol’s prescriptive outlook on how managementshould be because they believe it to be more useful than the description ofmanagers actions which could actually be inefficient compared to Fayol’spotentially superior way of managing From the evidence supplied withinthis essay it can be concluded that Fayol’s ideas (cited by Pugh and Hickson)are considered relevant in the contemporary business world with evidence fromLamond (2004) and Fells (2000) as well as the classical theorists Taylor andWeber (cited within Puck and Hickson, 2003).
However, the support for Mintzberg’sideas being superior and more effective is also strong with compellingarguments from Mayo, Barnard and McGregor within Pugh and Hickson (2003) aswell as Luthans (1988) and Boddy (2011). However, the argument for both Mintzbergand Fayol being relevant, equally superior and important within contemporarymanagement made by both Fells and Lamond is compelling, with a large amount ofresearch behind both reports, which leads to the conclusion that neithertheorist is superior to the other and that they are both equally useful tomanagers when looking at effective ways to manage.