The functions and roles of management


Management, which is a vital part of an organization, can be defined as the act of running and controlling a business or similar organization, for the purpose of completing a task or activity effectively and efficiently. The two popular approaches to clarify management are the management functions and managerial roles. This essay will argue that the management functions model and the managerial roles model are both useful for understanding management and what managers do. For comparing these two models' similarity and difference, their validities will be evaluated as well as their limitation.

The fundctions approach, which was developed by a French industrialist --Henri Fayol in the early 1900s, proposed that the five functions of managers included planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Planning function engages in defining the goal or purpose, establishing strategies and plans, integrating and coordinating activities; function of organizing is related to determining the stream of task and the grouping or separation of responsibilities; commanding refers to the action of manager to implement plans or strategies, while coordinating involves the motivation to influence subordinates and harmonization; for controlling, it is about monitoring and adjusting the performance to the task. Fayol developed this theory based on his own experience from working as a mine engineer and later as a CEO in Comambault (Reid, 1995, p22). His experience is providing a more sensible view to understand management

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On the other hand, another approach carried out by Henry Mintzberg in 1970s, who was a prominent management researcher, dividing managerial work into three categories: interpersonal roles, informational roles and decisional roles. Also, in his studies, he emphasized 10 roles of managers; these roles are figurehead, leader liaison, monitor, disseminator, spokesperson, disturbance handler, resource allocator, entrepreneur and negotiator. The interpersonal roles, with nature of ceremonial and symbolic duties, include roles of managers acting as figurehead, leader and liaison; the informational roles involving dealing with information, are comprised of the roles of monitor, disseminator and spokesperson; while roles of disturbance handler, resource allocator, entrepreneur and negotiator are grouped into the decisional roles. Mintzberg addressed his model based on observation of five executives at work for one week each and recorded their behavior (Beggs & Doolittle, 1988, p17). He concluded that management should be defined as specific categories of managerial behavior rather than functions (cited in Lamond, 2004, p334). This model was based on the theoretical assumption that structural conditions determine managerial behavior to a large extent (Tengblad, 2006, 1437).

In contrast, both of these two approaches have merit but also limitations. Some substantial evidence shows the organizational process and activities are altering due to the enormous change in the level of technology (cited in Pearson & Chatterjee, 2003, 695). Viewing from the method, Mintzberg developed his theory and Fayol did so as well. Fells states that Fayol's model may be regarded as invalid due to the time gap, but his functions are rather general so that not much effect from the time length. However, it can be argued that the function of commanding has become inapplicable for the modern societies (cite in Fells, 2000, 346). This weakness is probably resulted from the disregard of viewing it as a dictatorial activity. Lamond asserts that according to Mintzberg's model, he has provided empirical support which establishes the connection between managerial behavior and functions, by the expression of roles of managers (2004, 334). Nevertheless, A lack of universality of managerial roles is indicated by Pearson and Chatterjee (2003, 698). Because even though managers are involved in perfectly identical roles, there still will be variance in motivation and method of implementation, so universality of managerial roles becomes necessary. However, it seems that Mintzberg's model has become more preferable by the public in contemporary management, but this should not be treated as negation to Fayol's perspective. According to Tsoukas, Fayol's and Mintzberg's models are not competing with each other but representing different views (cited in Lamond, 2004, p330). For instance, the Mintzberg's element of resource allocator is related to Fayol's element of planning. Overall, there is actually no significant conflict between Fayol's and Mintzberg's models, even it could be said that these two approaches are in a relationship of reconciliation.

In summary, two approaches to management, which are the management functions developed by Fayol and managerial roles proposed by Mintzberg have been introduced and compared in this essay. Part of the managerial roles seem alike to Fayol's functions, most of the managerial roles in Mintzberg model can be corresponded to Fayol's functions. For example, negotiation and dissemination are part of the coordinating function, the interpersonal roles are identical to the planning function. Both of their propositions appear to be inter-related, but distinct from different way of viewing management. Therefore, either the functions of Fayol's model or the managerial roles of Mintzberg's model could be considered as useful approach for understanding management, as their major parts of propositions are still valid and their inter-related connection.

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