In his book “General and IndustrialManagement”, Fayol outlines fourteen general principles that he believes amanager should undertake to ensure an organisationruns at an optimal level. In this essay, I intend to explore some of these principles and assess their relevance to post-capitalistideas of management. Post-capitalist ideas ofmanagement have been created to take over from modernist management theoriesdevised during the industrial era, due to advances in technology, high levelsof competition, globalisation, and otherfactors. Many organisations have adoptedthese ideas in recent years to keep up with the fast-paced change occurring inthe environments in which they operate.Division of Work isthe first principle that Fayol (1916) describes, stating “the object of division of work is to produce more and betterwork with the same effort”. He goes on to describe how dividing the workforcebased on individuals’ skills, and assigning them tasks based off said skillspromotes higher levels of output; letting the workforceto focus on specific tasks allows them to become faster, more accurate and moreconfident in their work. In addition, he states that changing a specificworkers’ job necessitates training, which wastes time and reduces output.
Although delegating a settask to each member of the workforcewould increase productivity, some may argue that having multiskilled andflexible workers would provide higher levels of output than when division of work is applied. Allowing the workforceto have freedom and variance in the tasks they are assigned may require moretraining, as Fayol said. However, once they are trained, employees will beskilled in multiple areas. This, in effect, results in employees workingtogether, employees staying stimulated, and employees gaining higher jobsatisfaction, all culminating in higher levels of output.
In terms of its relevance topost-capitalist ideas of management, some may argue that division of work is asnot important as it was during the industrial eraGW(1 . This is partlydue to the growth of the knowledge economy; organisations valuing knowledge ascapital, meaning intellect of workers is very important and an asset to thebusiness. Therefore, large multinationals such as Google or Facebook are farmore likely to look for workers will multiple skills, rather than just oneskill that they can only apply to one task. Clegg (1992) stated, postmodernistorganisation and jobs will be highly de-differentiated, de-demarcated andmultiskilled, which clearly outlines that 21st-centuryorganisations that adopt a post-capitalist management style are looking foradaptable and flexible workers who can fit many roles, rather than just one.
Allowing their employees to undertake a variety of different tasks will keepthem stimulated and happy. This results in higher levels of creativity,therefore higher job satisfaction and therefore higher output overall. This consequentlydemonstrates Fayol’s principles are not particularly relevant to post-capitalistideas of management in this case.Further demonstration ofhow Fayol’s principles may not be particularly relevant to 21st-century ideas of management maybe found when we analyse Fayol’s 4th and 9th principles, Unity of Command and Scalar Chain. One could argue that theseprinciples outline how Fayol believed a rigid hierarchy would be the optimalway to run an organisation. He quotes in his description of Unity of Command – “For any actionwhatsoever, an employee should receive orders from one superior only.” Thisclearly outlines how Fayol’s believed that orders should simply come fromabove. This, in his view, helped keep tasks clear and reduced confusion oruncertainty within the workforce.
In addition, in his description of Scalar Chain, Fayol explains howcommunications must go “via every link in the chain” when a decision or actionis taking place. Despite also explaining that shortcutsin communication between the workforcemay be applied in situations where success depends on speed, this ultimatelyoutlines how rigid organisations should be in Fayol’s view. Due to the inflexibility ofFayol’s views on hierarchy within organisations, it could easily be argued thatthese principles do not uphold in 21st-centuryideas of management. Modern businesses operating globally are more likely toadhere to a more flexible structure such as a matrix organisation. In a matrixorganisation, delegation often comes from more than one person and can arrive horizontally, not just from one person above.This clearly contrasts Fayol’s 4th principle, showing its lack ofrelevance in post-capitalist ideas of management. Trying to apply this principle to an organisation such as Nike,who operate globally and employ thousands of workers, would result ininefficiency within the workforce due todifficulties in communication.
In addition, applying Fayol’s Scalar Chain would undoubtedly result ininefficiency too; having to communicate through every single level of authoritywould waste time and reduce output. Despite some of Fayol’s principles’ lack of relevanceto post-capitalist ideas of management, it could be argued that others arestill somewhat applicable today. Initiative, Fayol’s 13thprinciple, is described as the “Power of thinking out and executing.” Fayolexplains how providing workers with the ability to express their own ideasresults in an increase in creativity within the workforce, therefore increasingoverall productivity. Although it could be arguedthat allowing workers to use their initiative too much could result in thembecoming distracted or unfocused, which could result in lower levels ofefficiency, I still think that this principle is relevant to post-capitalistideas of management. Allowing workers to have put forward their own ideas andmake decisions themselves results in higher levels of productivity due tohigher levels of satisfaction.
Maslow’s (1943, 1954) Hierarchy of Needs can be applied to this, as providing workerswith the freedom to use their own initiative allows them to operate at thehighest point on the hierarchy, Self-Actualisation.Many modern businesses promote high levels of creativity and initiative intheir workforce. Mayo’s (1927-1932) Hawthorne experiments also support this.
Hefound that work satisfaction relies more on emotional gratification thanfinancial reward. Providing an individual with the ability to use theirinitiative increases satisfaction, resulting in higher productivity. Modernorganisations want workers to feel empowered in their work, and providingallowing them to use their initiative is a way to achieve this, thereforeshowing that Fayol’s 13th principle remains relevant topost-capitalist ideas of management.Fayol’s 2nd principle, Authority, is described by himself as “the right to give orders and the power to exactobedience.” Fayol believed that in order to make an organisation operateproperly, authority must be held by themanagement to give orders to their subordinates. This authority, however, wasfollowed by responsibility; “responsibility is a corollary ofauthority.
” In terms of how relevant Authority is to post-capitalist ideas ofmanagement, I think assigning authority is still very applicable to modernorganisations. Without authority or responsibility, completing tasks within anorganisation would become extremely difficult. No one would have anyone toanswer to, nobody would have any power over anyone else. This could easilyresult in failure within organisations. Authority must be applied to certainmembers of the workforce to give theorganisation some sort of structure.
This, therefore, shows that Fayol’s 2ndprinciple is still relevant to post-capitalist ideas of managementToconclude, although a few of his principles apply to post-capitalist ideas ofmanagement, such as Initiative and Authority, overall, they are a bit datedand probably are not particularly useful to modern organisations. The rigiditythat the application of his principles would cause to the structure of anorganisation would result in a reduction in flexibility and skill base of theworkforce, two things that are vital to functioningwithin the modern business environment. Generally, post-modernist ideas ofmanagement promote fluidity and adaptability, which are limited when Fayol’sprinciples are present.WordCount: 1356