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Henri Fayol

Fayolism is one of the first comprehensive statement of a general theory of management, developed by the French management theorist Henri Fayol (1841–1925): one of the most influential contributors to modern concepts of management,

Fayol has proposed that there are five primary functions of management: (1) planning, (2) organizing, (3) commanding, (4) coordinating, and (5) controlling (Fayol, 1949, 1987). Controlling is described in the sense that a manager must receive feedback on a process in order to make necessary adjustments.

Fayol's work has stood the test of time and has been shown to be relevant and appropriate to contemporary management. Many of today’s management texts including Daft (2005) have reduced the five functions to four: (1) planning, (2) organizing, (3) leading, and (4) controlling. Daft's text is organized around Fayol's four functions.


Definition of Management


The 6 types of Operations

For Fayol any Organisation can be subdivided into six types of Operations. Each Operation being fulfilled by its corresponding Essential Function:

  1. Technical Operations (production, manufacturing, transformation)
  2. Commercial Operations (purchases, sales, exchanges)
  3. Financial Operations (seek for capital and finance management)
  4. Security Operations (protection of goods and people)
  5. Accounting Operations (balance, P&L, cost control, statistics, etc)
  6. Administrative' Operations (Management)(see below The 5 Elements of Administration)

In 1925 six month before Henri Fayol’s death Verney helped Fayol redefine The function of administration (Administration Industrielle et Generale).
The old definition went as follows: The activities involved in businesses can all be classified under one of the following six headings: TECHNICAL, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, SECURITY, ACCOUNTING, ADMINISTRATIVE organization, command, coordination and control. Compared with the new definition: The activities involved in businesses can all be classified under one of the following five headings: TECHNICAL, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, SECURITY, ACCOUNTING These activities must be planned, organized, directed, coordinated and controlled, in a word: administered. The removal of the distinction between management and administration and the re-definition of administration, it appears that Fayol had finally synthesized these two concepts. Therefore the previous difficulties with this distinction no longer exist(Breeze, J., & Miner Jr., F.)

The 9 Levels

Fayol was representing an organisation like a living body (« corps social », i.e. "social body") with main organs hierarchically structured as follow:

  1. Shareholders,
  2. Board of Administration,
  3. General Direction and its General staff (advisors),
  4. Regional/local Directions,
  5. Main Engineers,
  6. Services Managers,
  7. Workshops Managers,
  8. Foremen,
  9. Workers.

The 5 Elements of Administration

Popularized by Fayol with the acronym of POCCC:

  1. Planning' (to foresee/anticipate and make plans)
  2. Organisation (to provide the Function with all is needed for its smooth running: Supplies, Tools, Funding, Employees)
  3. Commandment (to lead the people employed by the organisation)
  4. Coordination (to harmonise all actions of an Organisation in order to facilitate its smooth running and success)
  5. Control (to verify if everything happens in accordance with defined plans, orders given, and accepted principles)

The word Control clearly provoked some misunderstanding by English-readers because its 1st meaning in French is "to check" and its 2nd meaning is "to have a grip over". And it is the other way round in English. So for the French-reader Fayol clearly meant "Check everything!".[citation needed]

For Fayol, "The Art of Commanding relies upon certain personal qualities and upon the knowledge of management general principles. (...) It has, like all other arts, its degrees. (...) The manager in charge of a commandment must:

  1. have a deep knowledge of his staff;
  2. cull the incapables;
  3. well know the conventions[1] binding the organisation and its members;
  4. give the good example (by his attitude);
  5. conduct regular inspections of the « corps social »;
  6. get together his main partners in conferences (meetings) where are prepared the Unity of Direction and the Focus of Efforts;
  7. not be distracted by details;
  8. aim to make prevalent among his staff, energy, initiative and « dévouement[2] »."

The 14 Principles of Administration

  1. Division of work: Reduces the span of attention or effort for any one person or group. Develops practice or routine and familiarity.
  2. Authority: "The right to give orders. Should not be considered without reference to responsibility."
  3. Discipline: "Outward marks of respect in accordance with formal or informal agreements between a firm and it's employees."
  4. Unity of command: "One man one superior!"
  5. Unity of direction: "One head and One plan for a group of activities with the same objective."
  6. Subordination of Individual Interests to the Common Interest: "The interests of one individual or group should not prevail over the general or common good."
  7. Remuneration of personnel: "Pay should be fair to both the worker as well as the organization."
  8. Centralisation: "Is always present to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the size of the company and the quality of its managers."
  9. Scalar chain: "The line of authority from top to bottom of the organization."
  10. Order: "A place for everything and everything in its right place; ie. the right man in the right place."
  11. Equity: "A combination of kindness and justice towards employees."
  12. Stability of personnel tenure: "Employees need to be given time to settle in to their jobs, even though this may be a lengthy period in the case of some managers."
  13. Initiative: "Within the limits of authority and discipline, all levels of staff should be encouraged to show initiative."
  14. Esprit de corps (Union is strength): "Harmony is a great strength to an organization; teamwork should be encouraged."

Fayol suggested that it is important to have unity of command: a concept that suggests there should be only one supervisor for each person in an organization. Like Socrates, Fayol suggested that management is a universal human activity that applies equally well to the family as it does to the corporation.

The 16 Management Duties of the Organisation

  1. To aim at giving serious thoughts to activity plans and having them firmly executed.
  2. To aim at having employed people and used equipment being relevant to the goal, the resources and the needs of the organisation.
  3. To set up a unique Direction (top management), skilled and vigorous.
  4. To consult others for actions, to coordinate efforts.
  5. To formulate decisions in a clear, clean and precise way.
  6. To aim to an efficient recruitment, each department needing to be lead by a skilled and active man, each employee being at the place where he can provide the most services.
  7. To define clearly the attributions (i.e. job description).
  8. To encourage people to take initiatives and responsibilities.
  9. To pay fairly and expertly for the services provided to the Organisation.
  10. to sanction faults and errors.
  11. To enforce discipline.
  12. To aim at having individual interests subordinated to the Organisation's interest.
  13. To give a special attention to the Unity of Command.
  14. To supervise the material order and social order (i.e. to keep the place tidy and to avoid strikes).
  15. To verify everything (i.e. to apply quality control on every operation).
  16. To fight against the red tape attitude.

The 7 Qualities

The 7 qualities he was expecting from managers were:

  1. Health and vigour;
  2. Cleverness;
  3. Moral qualities;
  4. General knowledge (culture);
  5. Management capacity;
  6. Notions about other functions (activities);
  7. The strongest skills in the function managed.

For the Top Managing Director, the 7th quality was "the broadest skills in the dedicated activity of the organisation".
For example, if the organisation was a car manufacturer, the top Director must have the largest possible knowledge about the manufacturing of cars. This was suggesting that this Director would have to be probably a former car manufacturing engineer.

Managers need the ability to perform the elements of Management but they also need abilities in the Technical, commercial, financial, security, and Accounting areas of the enterprise. Managerial Ability became more important as he moves up to upper level management. Fayol's ideas inspired a number of individuals to teach and Write about management(Wren).

Research & teaching of Management

Fayol believed management theories could be developed, then taught (to students of Grandes écoles). His theories were published in a monograph titled General and Industrial Management (1916). In doing so, he stated," ...starting a general discussion- that is what I am trying to do by publishing this survey, and I hope that a theory will emanate from it."

His theories and ideas were ideally a result of his environment; that of a post revolutionized France in which a republic bourgeois was emerging. A bourgeois himself, He believed in the controlling of workers in order to achieve a greater productivity over all other managerial considerations. However, through reading General and Industrial Management, it is apparent that Fayol advocated a flexible approach to management, one which he believed could be applied to any circumstance whether in the home, the workplace, or within the state. He stressed the importance and the practice of forecasting and planning in order to apply these ideas and techniques which demonstrated his ability and his emphasis in being able to adapt to any sort of situation. In General and Industrial Management he outlines an agenda whereby, under an accepted theory of management, every citizen is exposed and taught some form of management education and allowed to exercise management abilities first at school and later on in the workplace.[citation needed]

"Everyone needs some concepts of management; in the home, in affairs of state, the need for managerial ability is in keeping with the importance of the undertaking, and for individual people the need is everywhere in greater accordance with the position occupied. '

- excerpt from General and Industrial Management


Fayol has been described as the father of modern operational management theory (George, p. 146). Although his ideas have become a universal part of the modern management concepts, some writers continue to associate him with Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor's scientific management deals with the efficient organisation of production in the context of a competitive enterprise that has to control its production costs. That was only one of the many areas that Fayol addressed. Perhaps the connection with Taylor is more one of time, than of perspective. According to Claude George (1968), a primary difference between Fayol and Taylor was that Taylor viewed management processes from the bottom up, while Fayol viewed it from the top down. George's comment may have originated from Fayol himself. In the classic General and Industrial Management Fayol wrote that "Taylor's approach differs from the one we have outlined in that he examines the firm from the "bottom up." He starts with the most elemental units of activity—the workers' actions—then studies the effects of their actions on productivity, devises new methods for making them more efficient, and applies what he learns at lower levels to the hierarchy...(Fayol, 1987, p. 43)." He suggests that Taylor has staff analysts and advisors working with individuals at lower levels of the organization to identify the ways to improve efficiency. According to Fayol, the approach results in a "negation of the principle of unity of command" (p. 44). Fayol criticized Taylor’s functional management in this way. “… the most marked outward characteristics of functional management lies in the fact that each workman, instead of coming in direct contact with the management at one point only, … receives his daily orders and help from eight different bosses…” (Fayol, 1949, p. 68.) Those eight, Taylor said, were (1) route clerks, (2) instruction card men, (3) cost and time clerks, (4) gang bosses, (5) speed bosses, (6) inspectors, (7) repair bosses, and the (8) shop disciplinarian (p. 68). - [3] - This, Fayol said, was an unworkable situation, and that Taylor must have somehow reconciled the dichotomy in some way not described in Taylor's works.

Fayol's desire for teaching a generalized theory of management stemmed from the belief that each individual of an organization at one point or another takes on duties that involve managerial decisions. Unlike Taylor, however, who believed management activity was the exclusive duty of an organizations dominant class. Fayol's approach was more in sync with his idea of Authority which stated that the right to give orders should not be considered without the acceptance and understanding of responsibility.

Noted as one of the early fathers of the Human Relations movements, Fayol expressed ideas and theories with practices which differed from Taylor in that they showed flexibility and adaptation as well as stressed the importance of Interpersonal Interaction among employees.[citation needed]

Fayol believed that animosity and unease within the workplace occurred among employees in different departments often due to communication in writing; i.e. letters, (or in current times) e-mails. Among scholars of organizational communication and psychology, e-mails and letters as a form of communication in work are said to induce or solidify the idea of importance of an individual within the workplace and furthermore give way to selfish thinking which leads to arguments and conflict among employees.[citation needed]

Fayol expressed this idea in his book by stating," in some firms... employees in neighboring departments with numerous points of contact, or even employees within a department, who could quite easily meet, communicate with each other in writing... there is to be observed a certain amount of animosity prevailing between different departments or different employees within a department. The system of written communication usually brings this result. There is a way of putting an end to this deplorable system and that is to forbid all communication in writing which could easily and advantageously be replaced by verbal ones."

While Fayol's theories are typically refereed to as rigid and inflexible, it is practices and theories such as these which show flexibility in his theories of management. He developed and used theses ideas in order to diagnose a problem and eventually find solutions which provided methods to work around and fix these situations. This all led to his general idea of controlling employees in order to achieve increased productivity.

Fayol also expressed ideas which would later on lead to influence Systems and Contingency theories. The two are said to have emerged as a result of management theorists' desire to integrate ideas of the human relation theories within management which is what Fayol's General theory of Management relied upon.

Systems theory, first introduced in 1958 by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and later on published in 1968 attempts to understand organizations by comparing them to living organisms. Systems Theory is broken down into four distinct characteristics which reflect the biological resemblance between living organisms and organizations. First, Wholeness expresses the idea that an organization is a set of individual elements which are interdependent in the sense that the actions of one individual or group will affect the rest of the system or organization. The second is described as Hierarchy or the division of individuals into subsystems. This can be illustrated by groups within an organization. With regards to organisms, this could be called the organs of the body. Third, the organization may be regarded as, "Open or closed," in that systems can be characterized by their level of active exchange with the outside environment; successful organizations must be actively open . Lastly, open systems are characterized by two processes; maintenance and adaptation. Both of these processes act on Feedback to actions taken by the groups in order to maintain stability and adapt to environmental changes.

Fayol illustrated all of these ideas in his theories on general management. First, he believed in the division of labor among organizations(subsystems) by relating them to living organisms. He states that, " is observable in the animal world where the more highly developed the creature the more highly differentiated it's organs." He continues to describe the same scenario replicating that of an individual within a group and of a group within an organization. This is described in his 14 principles as the principle of Order (see the 14 principles) System Theory relies heavily on interdependence which Fayol also suggests is a vital part of management as he states, ""Man... plays a role like that of a cell in the animal... As the development of the organism is effected the grouping together of elemental units the organs appear, they are differentiated and perfected in proportion as the number of combined elements increase. In the social organism, as in the animal, a small number of functional elements accounts for an infinite variety of activities.''

Contingency Leadership Theory which was produced around the same time as Systems Theory, roughly states that no one leadership or management style is ideal and that the best leadership is that which reflects the internal and external environment of the organization. This is perhaps the most important concept that Fayol based his ideas around as well as the area where he and Taylor differ the most.

"Seldom do we have to apply the same principle twice in identical conditions;allowance must be made for different changing circumstances... Therefore principles...[must be]... flexible and capable of adaptation to every need; it is a matter of knowing how to make use of them which is a difficult art requiring intelligence, experience, decision, and proportion.

- excerpt from General and Industrial Management


Early last century, Fayol offered 14 principles of management aimed to help managers manage more effectively. Many organizations in technologically advanced countrys interpret the principles quite differently from the way they were interpreted in Fayol's time. These differences and the cultural challenges managers face when implementing this new framework are presented. The fourteen principles are: (1) Division of work, (2) Authority and responsibility, (3) Discipline, (4) Unity of command, (5) Unity of direction, (6) Subordination of individual interests to the common good, (7) Remuneration of personnel, (8)Centralization,(9) Scaler chain (10)Order,(11)Equity,(12) Stability of personnel tenure,(13) Initiative,(14) Esprit de corps.

Wren & Bluedorn

Daniel A. Wren wrote on a study Bluedorn critical review of the study. The study had said that traditional management occupies only a small portion of managerial activities and this review by Bluedorn shows that Fayol was a real manager and his Administrative theory should still be studied today. Real Managers did not "explode the myths" of traditional management but rather confirmed, classical BY Fayol. The problem resides in the assumption made that Fayol limited managerial activities to planning, decision making, and controlling. There is a misunderstanding of Fayol and classical theory in the development of management thought. Bluedorn introduced a review of the work of Fayol and other theorists of his day. Bluedorn said that "most of the content that was examined is surprisingly valid. Before his review managers and others criticize Fayol and others work because they forget, ignoring, misunderstand, and re-label their ideas. This makes it more difficult to develop a body of knowledge that can be translated into action-practice in skill development. This research shows that managers need to actually be trained using Fayol’s administrative theory and other theorists theory’s because they are still relevant today.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fayol meant all forms of "contracts" between employees and employers. For example, in France the Trade Unions agreements are called « Conventions collectives ».
    Fayol wrote "This impose [to the manager] a double role: to protect the interests of the Company regarding employees grievances, [and] to protect the interests of the employees against the top boss [excessive demands]."
  2. ^ « dévouement » in French has a sense of spontaneous self-dedication to duties for a person or organisation, suggesting generous efforts to help others.
  3. ^ Henri Fayol quoted parts of: Frederick Winslow Taylor, 1911, Shop Management
    published in France under: Frederick Winslow Taylor, 1913, La direction des ateliers - Etude suivie d'un mémoire sur l'emploi des courroies , et d'une note sur l'utilisation des ingénieurs diplomés - préface de Henry Le Chatelier - extrait de la Revue de Métallurgie - H. Dunod et E. Pinat, Paris

Further reading

  • Breeze, J., & Miner Jr., F. (1980, August). Henri Fayol: A New Definition of Administration. Academy of Management Proceedings, Retrieved March 3, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.
  • Carl A Rodrigues. (2001). Fayol's 14 principles of management then and now: A framework for managing today's organizations effectively. Management Decision, 39(10), 880-889. Retrieved February 28, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 259620311).
  • Wren, D. (1990, August). WAS HENRI FAYOL A REAL MANAGER?. Academy of Management Proceedings, Retrieved March 2, 2009, from Business Source Premier database
  • Parker, Lee D., & Ritson, Phillip A. (2005) Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management. British Journal of Management. Retrieved June 18, 2009 from Communication and Mass Media Complete as part of Ebsco Host from the STL Library at Suny New Paltz.
  • Pugh, D. S., (1966, October). Modern Organizational Theory: A Psychological And Sociological Study. Psychological Bulletin, Retrieved June 16, 2009 from Communication and Mass Media Complete as part of Ebsco Host from the STL Library at Suny New Paltz.
  • Osai, Jason O., et al. (2009). Jethro as the Patriarch of Administration and Management: An Analysis of His Works. Journal of Social Sciences, 18(3) 157-162; Retrieved June 18, 2009, from Communication and Mass Media complete as part of Ebsco Host from the STL Library at Suny New Paltz.


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