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The Foundation of Henry Fayol's Administrative Theory

Buy custom The Foundation of Henry Fayol's Administrative Theory essay

The article by Wren, Bedeian and Breeze (2002) is dedicated to Henry Fayol, a well-known French scholar, and his contributions to the development of administrative theory. Nowadays, many ideas and approaches suggested by Fayol are used not only in economics and management but in other spheres, as well.

In June 1900, Fayol dwelt on the subject of management and administration at the International Mining and Metallurgical Congress in Paris. Fayol stressed that there is the deference between administrative and technical skills and that managing other people and doing a work require a retooling of man’s abilities (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 900). According to Fayol, a manager should not only be knowledgeable about the inner world (an enterprise where he / she works), but also about the outside world, which comprises all affairs relating to his / her enterprise.

Henry Fayol formulated the basic principles of administration taking into account his knowledge, skills, and experiences while working for half a century at the same company. According to Fayol, the most essential principle is the principle of ‘Unity of Command.’ It implies that each action is supposed to be ordered by one person only, the boss. Violation of the following principle usually leads to misunderstandings, confusions, and conflicts within an enterprise. If such things happen, the work result may turn out to be downfall of an enterprise (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 912).

Fayol considered that ‘Unity of Command’ gives way to secondary principles: the hierarchical transmissions of orders, the separation of powers, centralization, and order (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 912). The hierarchical transmission of orders known as ‘the Hierarchical Principle’ implies that there is always a hierarchy created to transmit orders and to supervise their executions within an enterprise. The principle of the separation of powers means that each enterprise is supposed to be divided into certain departments that should be responsible for fulfilling set duties. These departments may function independently from each other, but should be a subject to a common authority. All duties, functions, and responsibilities are supposed to be clearly defined and strictly followed (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 912). The principle of centralization implies that orders given by the higher authority should reach all parts of an enterprise and that all responses given by the subordinates should return to this very authority (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 912). The principle of order implies that there should be order with things and people’s deeds within an enterprise. When this principle is followed, materials, time, and conflicts can be avoided within and out of an enterprise (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 913). It is evident that Unity of Command is extremely important, but it cannot exist without Unity of Purpose and Unity of Action. Unity of Purpose requires that ideas, actions, and desires of the staff should be unanimous. In its turn, Unity of Action implies that all efforts and resources of an enterprise are directed to achieving the same goal. 

The above mentioned principles were the first principles of the administrative theory suggested by Fayol. In his further works, the scholar introduced some other principles, as well as methods: discipline, planning, organization chart, meetings and reports, and accounting (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, p. 914). It is vital for a leader to determine discipline to be followed in his / her enterprise. Planningis of greater importance as it helps foresee future successes or failures. Each enterprise should have short and long terms planning. The organization chart allows seeing the inner hierarchy and functions’ subdivision of an enterprise. Fayol stressed that Unity of Action and Unity of Purpose should be facilitated by written reports and meetings. Accounting allows revealing the state of an enterprise and is supposed to be consulted by its all members (Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002, pp. 915-916).

In conclusion, all the above mentioned principles and methods are interrelated and interdependent. On the one hand, their violation or neglect may cause unpredictable consequences to an enterprise; on the other hand, when these principles are used accordingly and wisely, good results and benefits may be obtained by an enterprise.

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