Almost 90 years after Fayol published his most studied work, Administration Industrielle et Generale, the field of management appears to be undecided on its relevance. The great advances in all aspects of commercial enterprise, which have occurred since 1916, have taught us many things. Just how relevant are Fayol's ideas on managing groups and individuals in today's business world? Small parts of Fayol's work are certainly not as relevant as they may have been in 1916, and general knowledge now tells us, quite simply, some of the ideas are wrong. However, to discredit the entire work on the basis of several minor sections would be regrettable. The majority of Fayol's work on management is still of great relevance to today's business world.
[...] Elements of Fayol's ideas on order have been used to great effect in recent times, particularly by the Japanese, with systems such as JIT (Just In Time) management (Archer 1990, 19). Equity was also included in the I.A.M in its list of ten principles (I.A.M 2000). ‘Equity results from the combination of kindliness and justice' (Fayol 1949, 38). Today society in general expects higher standards of equity than it did in the past, ensuring this principle is as relevant as ever. [...]
[...] While the relevance of these ideas may be less substantial, to say that authority and responsibility are no longer applicable today, would be inaccurate. Regardless of how much importance is placed on the well-being of employees in today's environment, discipline (based on standing agreements) is still important. As Fayol noted, the rights of employees were on the rise, with workers' associations playing a large part (Fayol 2000, 23). So although organizations have lost some freedom in regards to the sanctions they may impose, discipline is, to a greater or lesser extent, found in all organizations today. [...]
[...] Planning takes on greater importance in times of great change and uncertainty. Those who anticipate change, and are thus prepared when it occurs, will have an improved chance of success, as indicated in the I.A.M study: Good managers embrace change as a core element of their jobs. They don't resent it. They welcome it and even seek it out, to safeguard the long term future of their organizations (I.A.M 2000, 9). Fayol (1949) spends some effort using his own experiences with Comambault to provide an example of how planning can be undertaken, its advantages and shortcomings. [...]
[...] Team building exercises are an extremely popular tool today in developing team strength and morale. Trust and unified commitment and mutual understanding are all characteristics of effective teams, and can be developed and fostered by such team building activities, which have their foundation in the principle of esprit de corps (Robbins et al 2003, 432-434). Archer (1990, 20) strengthens this argument: use of quality circles, disciplinary training, exercise sessions and other group interaction activities common to the Japanese management style conform remarkably to the conceptual intent of the principle of esprit de corps'. [...]
[...] In describing Fayol as someone who put up ‘accurate sign posts' on the management process, Baker went on to say that ‘since those signs went up we have managed to rewrite them, to add to them, to reposition them, and in some cases to ignore them; but nothing has worked, we cannot find the right road.' (Baker 1991, 6). Fayol himself understood the diversity of the management position: ‘There is no limit to the number of principles of management, every rule or managerial procedure which strengthens the body corporate or facilitates its functioning has a place among the principles so long, at least, as experience confirms its worthiness' (Fayol 1949, 19). [...]
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