Henri and FW – early management theory

Henri Fayol was an early management theorist. His Wikipedia entry shows a very simple approach which is largely unchanged today. (I just learned about him (again) today.)

His Functions of management are simple:

  • forecasting
  • planning
  • organizing
  • commanding
  • coordinating
  • monitoring (French: contrôler: in the sense that a manager must receive feedback about a process in order to make necessary adjustments).

His Principles of Management resonate through the ages – and some of them are not particularly nice.
Division of work. This principle is the same as Adam Smith’s ‘division of labour’. Specialisation increases output by making employees more efficient.
Authority. Managers must be able to give orders. Authority gives them this right. Note that responsibility arises wherever authority is exercised.
Discipline. Employees must obey and respect the rules that govern the organisation. Good discipline is the result of effective leadership, a clear understanding between management and workers regarding the organisation’s rules, and the judicious use of penalties for infractions of the rules.
Unity of command. Every employee should receive orders from only one superior.
Unity of direction. Each group of organisational activities that have the same objective should be directed by one manager using one plan.
Subordination of individual interests to the general interest. The interests of any one employee or group of employees should not take precedence over the interests of the organisation as a whole.
Remuneration. Workers must be paid a fair wage for their services.
Centralisation. Centralisation refers to the degree to which subordinates are involved in decision making. Whether decision making is centralised (to management) or decentralised (to subordinates) is a question of proper proportion. The task is to find the optimum degree of centralisation for each situation.
Scalar chain. The line of authority from top management to the lowest ranks represents the scalar chain. Communications should follow this chain. However, if following the chain creates delays, cross-communications can be allowed if agreed to by all parties and superiors are kept informed.
Order. People and materials should be in the right place at the right time.
Equity. Managers should be kind and fair to their subordinates.
Stability of tenure of personnel. High employee turnover is inefficient. Management should provide orderly personnel planning and ensure that replacements are available to fill vacancies.
Initiative. Employees who are allowed to originate and carry out plans will exert high levels of effort.
Esprit de corps. Promoting team spirit will build harmony and unity within the organisation.

He was influenced indirectly at least by Frederick Winslow Tayor, and I can heartily recommend “One Best Way“, which is a magnificent book about him.

Published by Lance Wiggs


3 replies on “Henri and FW – early management theory”

  1. So, Lance, applying some critical reasoning, are all of these relevant to a modern organisation? Most seem to be based on a ‘manager centred’ approach. I wonder how they’d read from a ‘worker centred’ approach, or even more interestingly for a ‘self managing worker’.


    1. They are where we come from, and so for that they are relevant. Many firms still seem intent on managing in this way, but I agree, they don’t really describe an organisation that is pleasant to work in, and nor one that delivers the best thinking and actions from every level.


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