Management researchers

Management researchers have developed schemes to gain a deeper understanding of managerial roles so that managers have a mutual understanding of their responsibilities. A well known researcher, Henri Fayol (1949), introduced us to the management functions of planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. In a quarter of a century's time, Henry Mintzberg (1973) rejected these functions as ‘folklore' as he defined management as what managers do rather than about functions. Although Mintzberg (1973) perceived Fayol's (1949) work in that perspective, we can see that Mintzberg's (1973) management model actually reinforces the manifestations of Fayol's (1949) ideation of management. From the links between Fayol's (1949) and Mintzberg's (1973) models, a realisation that a combination of the two models is required for a more integrated theoretical understanding in management and managerial behaviour.

Henri Fayol's (1949) management model identified five functions or elements defined as planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. In the details of the functions, it alludes to the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct them. This means for the function ‘planning', Fayol implies that the manager requires good communication skills to handle people and the ability to gain the cooperation of others. Fayol believed that these principles should stand as a guide for managerial processes. The functions are able to be adapted and reformulated to reflect the contemporary concerns considering how general the functions are. This allows the functions to transcend through time but it not always the case as people's beliefs and understandings change. This can be seen with the element “commanding” and unintended negative connotations of dictatorial activity that come with it. Another change is perceived in the focus of management thinking as it has turned away from Fayol's theoretical thinking superseded by actual observation. This has been a focus of researchers such as Henry Mintzberg who is also a critic of Fayol's functions believing it to be irrelevant and inapplicable to contemporary management. This eventuated in the functions being known as the classical managerial tradition.

Henry Mintzberg developed one of the most influential managerial models by providing a seemingly new perspective on the roles of managers in the 1970s. He defined management as what managers do. This led him to undertake an extensive study observing senior managers at work and highlight ten roles needed to understand managerial work. These ten roles were categorised into three categories: interpersonal roles (figurehead, leader, liaison), informational roles (monitor, disseminator, spokesperson), and decision roles (entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, negotiator). By categorising these roles it allows a deeper insight to what managers actually do. Mintzberg's model gives the appearance of detail as it consists of ten roles compared with only five functions. This suggests that Mintzberg adds greater depth of meaning to the management functions.

Although Mintzberg's roles may allow us to reach new depths in understanding of management there are some factors which compromises his model. Due to his research based in a culture-free environment which does not take into account non-Western contexts, it has lead to implications for understanding the managerial roles. The roles of managers in divergent non-Western contexts are bound to exhibit features which differ from Mintzberg's formulations. The different cultures and gender demographics of these contexts has led to variations in the managerial roles and sub roles. Another factor which Mintzberg did not take into account is the fragmentation of time. This changed the roles outlined by Mintzberg due to differences such as a much larger workload, greater emphasis on providing information and less administrative work. Additionally with the passing of time there are new issues to take into account like new technology, flexibility, globalisation and increasing competition pressure all of which leads to new discourses about managerial roles. Despite the changes in the work environment and to some extent the managerial roles, the relevance of Fayol's elemental level functions of management is constant.

When comparing Mintzberg's and Fayol's model, it can be seen that Mintzberg's research actually fills in the details of Fayol's functions. Mintzberg unknowingly elaborated the roles which managers engage in when carrying out their managerial functions. This is realised with the comparison of Fayol's function of “planning” with Mintzberg's “entrepreneur” and “resource allocator”. Fayol's definition of planning is related to the development of goals for the future and establishing strategies to be taken which is essentially role of entrepreneurs and resource allocators. Even though some of Mintzberg's roles have a weaker relationship to the functions, the strength and number of relationships suggests that the two models are essentially interrelated. Mintzberg and Fayol present seemingly different perspectives towards management with Fayol focusing on manager's actions in an idealised state whilst Mintzberg's concern relates to the demands on what managers actually do on a day-to-day basis.

Mintzberg's ten management roles and Fayol's functions of functions of planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling were shown to be interrelated down to the basic level The links between the functions and roles demonstrate a reconciliation of Fayol's functions and Mintzberg's managerial roles and if one without the other it would be insufficient to fully comprehend management in a contemporary context.. As a result, to gain a more complete insight of management, it is necessary to analyse both of these approaches.

Fayol's original functions have evolved over time to reflect the concerns of contemporary times.

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