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Henri Fayol is widely acknowledged as the earliest pioneer and advocate of the task of management Parker and Ritson, 2005 His management theories were first proposed in the early 1900s. Despite many criticisms, Fayol's theories still form the basis of management practices and teachings in the 21st century. Taking some articles for reference, this essay will mainly analyse the advantages and disadvantages of Fayol's concept of five functions of management in modern enterprises by some examples. There are about three main parts in this essay beginning with the introduction. And in the main body of this article, based on some academic researches, there are about seven parts discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Fayol's concept of five functions of management. A conclusion will be made at last.
There is no doubt that Fayol is best known for a three-fold contribution to management theory. Among his contributions, the concept of five functions of management is worth discussing all the time. Fayol identified five key functions of management and these functions of managerial activity are: forecasting and planning, organizing, coordination, command and control. According to Fayol, forecasting involves analyzing the future and drawing a plan of action (Pugh ad Hichson, 2007). And as for organizing, Fayol believed that an organization's structure was important, as it can facilitate the optimum conduct of its business activities (Pugh and Hichson, 2007). According to Pugh and Hichson (2007), in his original writing, Fayol used the term "command" to illustrate a manager's responsibility to lead and direct employees towards the achievement of organizational goals and strategies. About the function of coordination, Fayol made a suggestion that managers should bind together, unify and harmonize all the organization's activities and efforts. In contemporary management practice, this can be explained into that the managers should be responsible for making sure that all the organizational business activities are coordinated to make the employees can unify together within one department or among different departments. The last not the least function of management is control. Fayol recognized the importance of control within an organization and support that it ensures "everything occurs in conformity with established rules and expressed command".
In the article of "Fayol-standing the test of time", McLean (2011) firstly introduced the contents of the five functions of management and stated that in contemporary society, there are some advantages of these functions to development of the enterprises. First, McLean (2011) stated that with the development of globalized knowledge economy, the abilities of forecasting and planning can gain success in the competition. Second, organizing can ask the managers to carry out an appropriate infrastructure, which will optimize the organization's system, resources, procedures, processes and services and enable knowledge to be disseminated to those who need it, when they need it. Third, McLean (2011) also stated that control is one of the most important responsibilities of a manager and under the control of the managers. Under control of the managers, the policies and strategies can be implemented according to plan and within budget, set timescales and allocated resources. Fourth, under the function of command, the managers can develop a thorough knowledge of their employees, which can generate a positive psychological contract that engages employees with their jobs and the organization. What's more, Fayol's managerial functions are frequently cited as the inspiration for the contemporary practice of dividing managerial activity (and management textbooks) into the functions of planning, leading, organizing and controlling (Davidson and Griffin, 2000; Lewis, Goodmand and Fandt ,1995).
As for the organizing, Fayol believed that an organization's structure was important, as it facilitated the optimum conduct of its business. Whether there are advantages of this concept or not remains an open question, In the article of "Fayol-standing the test of time", Miss Jacqueline McLean stated that in contemporary society, organizing can ask the managers to carry out an appropriate infrastructure, which will optimise the organization's system, resources, procedures, processes and services and enable knowledge to be disseminated to those who need it, when they need it. Meanwhile, organizing also can integrate all kinds of resources of the companies, including human resources, financial and material resources. So there are some advantages about the concept. And this concept is also influencing the structure of the companies and most of organizations pay more attention to the building of the organizational structure. The KFC¼Œone of the most famous and important fast food chain restaurants, is always paying its attention to the building of the structure all the time. In 2004, with the AIV spreading quickly in Asia, most of the KFC consumers quitted the line of waiting for KFC, never eating chicken. Especially in Vietnam, the most AIV-hit country, KFC business was confronted with a crisis. But KFC then changed its organizational structure, replacing the Fried Chicken with Fried Fish. So, finally it regained a big success. Under the guidance of Fayol's concept about the organizing, many organizations know about the importance of the structure and pay attention to building their organizational chart and thus gain success. In fact, the building of the organizational structure should fit the development of the organization.
As the saying goes, "preparedness ensures success and unpreparedness spells failure". So does the development of one organization. According to Fayol, forecasting involves analysis of the future and drawing up a plan of action. About this Fayol's concept, some authors viewed that there are some advantages. In the article of "Fayol-standing the test of time", McLean (2011) stated that with the development of globalized knowledge economy, the abilities of forecasting and planning can gain success in the competition. In the article of "The foundation of Henri Fayol's administrative theory", Mr. Wren, Mr. Bedeeian and Mr. Breeze stated that the most important of the means which one must use to ensure business success was planning. To create a business, the founders need capital manpower and time and should have outlets for the products or service. To forecast these needs and providing for them is the main responsible of the managers. So Fayol's concept about planning has its own advantages. And it also improves the development of the companies in contemporary times. Due to the loss of electronic mail, Morgan Stanley paid out more than billions of dollars. But this event is just one tip of the iceberg of the suffering a great number of cost which is caused by the inappropriate information management. Confronted with this problem, British Airway made plan and forecasting and declared its commercial goal: to automate more and more function and try their best to develop customers' self-help service system , such as electronic ticket, and even that customers can printed their tickets in their own home. This strategy made British Airway protocol the development lifeline of the companies designedly.
Although there are lots of advantages of Fayol's concept of the five functions of management, there are some disadvantages of them. As for the forecasting and planning, if a business made a good planning, it will get a great success. If not, there will be a big failure, just as the saying goes "Changes always go beyond plans". As McLean (2011) stated in the article of "Fayol-standing the test of time" that the globalised knowledge economy and the presence of ubiquitous change and competition make forecasting, planning and strategising key managerial activities", forecasting and planning are at the same time the main cause of an organization failure. HP, a big technological products supplier of the world, is always encouraging its employees to go forward to their goals, which are planned by the organization. According to HP official Website, in 2010¼Œin accordance with its plan, HP purchased Palm company with the Web-based Operating System to get itself to a higher level. But as a result, the new product with the WebOS could not compete with ipad and was not popular with the consumers. In 2011, HP declared to cease the research of WebOS. So to purchase Palm with a whole $1.2 Billion is really not a wise choice. Many other organizations in the world are also always following the rules of forecasting and planning concept in Fayol's management theory, but only a good plan is far from enough in contemporary competitive context.
The other disadvantage comes from the function of command and control in Fayol's theory. According to Wren, Bedeian and Breeze (2002), the command made by the higher authority and which, be it direct or through successive levels in the organization, should reach all parts of the organization, and the responses should return in the reverse sense, either directly or through the levels, to the central authority. Thus an organization can operate smoothly. But there are also counterviews, who consider that the excessive command and control will harm personal satisfaction and their self-respect. In the article of "Fayol's 14 principles of management then and now: a framework for managing today's organizations", Rodrigues stated that if the managers can separate their managerial work from the actual work clearly, they can have energy to focus on the target of the development of their own enterprises and deal with the public relations outside the companies. In the article "Henri Fayol as strategies: a nineteenth century corporate turnaround", Wren stated that due to the hierarchy, the managers can conduct the enterprise toward its objective. The branches of Nokia in China adhere to the principle of the former, the strict command and control. Under this circumstance, the managers cannot handle the managerial work since they have to help employees to deal with lots of trivial problems. After discussion, they changed the operation strategies and set up the system of "hierarchical transmission of orders", in which the employees in the lower class should report their work to his/her own managers.
What's more, as McLean (2011) stated, although Fayol had a great contribution to management theory, he has been accused of the romanticism of management and presented an almost unrealizable approach to management theorisation. He gave a clear definition to each of the functions of his management theory and some principles to carry out them, but in concrete circumstances, some of them can not be realized. As Pryor and Taneja (2010) stated that in practically Mintzberg vehemently disagreed when he went on to say that if you observe managers at work you will find what they do is quite different. According to Lamond, Fayol gave us management as we would like it to be and Mintzberg gave us management as it is (Pryor and Taneja, 2010). Therefore, today many managers favour the important role of practice and experience. They think that practice and experience are the only way to get a management qualification.
In conclusion, Henri Fayol, as a founding father of what has become known as the administration school of management, made some contributions to the management theories. This essay mainly aimed to discuss some statement about Henri Fayol's contributions to management today and criticism of any of his contributions under the topic of "Discussion on Advantages and Disadvantages of Fayol's Concept of Five Functions of Management in Modern Enterprises" and then to learn about the influence of Fayol's management theories to the management practices and teachings in the 21st century. It focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of forecasting and planning, the disadvantages of excessive command and control and the impracticability of the theory in the main body by taking some articles for reference. All in all, Fayol's theories are valuable and relevant for organizational leaders on the one hand and debatable on the other hand.