Is the functional approach to managing, teaching and research in the organizational field an effective option for preparing people to manage in the real world? Justify your answer.

The functional approach to managing, teaching and research in the organizational field is an effective option for preparing people to manage in the real world.

The functional approach to management is said to be the oldest school of thought about management and organization structure. Management, teaching or research is viewed as a systematic network (process) of interrelated functions. The nature and content of these functions, the mechanics by which each function is performed and the interrelationship between these functions is the core of the functional approach.

On the basis of experiences of practicing managers, principles are developed. These principles are used as guidelines for the practicing executive and basis of management training. Functions, principles and skills of management are considered universal and they can be applied in different situations.

Henri Fayol was the first person to identify elements or functions of management in his classic 1916 book ‘Administration Industrielle et Generale’. Fayol was the managing director of a large French coal-mining firm and based his book largely on his experiences as a practitioner of management. He defined five functions, or elements of management: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Fayol argued that these functions were universal, in the sense that all managers performed them in the course of their jobs, whether the managers worked in business, military, government, religious, or philanthropic undertakings.

Fayol defined planning in terms of forecasting future conditions, setting objectives, and developing means to attain objectives. He recognized that effective planning must also take into account unexpected contingencies that might arise and did not advocate rigid and inflexible plans. Fayol defined organizing as making provision for the structuring of activities and relationships within the firm and also the recruiting, evaluation, and training of personnel.

According to Fayol, commanding as a managerial function concerned the personal supervision of subordinates and involved inspiring them to put forth unified effort to achieve objectives. He emphasized the importance of managers understanding the people who worked for them, setting a good example, treating subordinates in a manner consistent with firm policy, delegating, and communicating through meetings and conferences.

Fayol saw the function of coordination as harmonizing all of the various activities of the firm. Most later experts did not retain Fayol’s coordination function as a separate function of management but regarded it as a necessary component of all the other management functions. Fayol defined the control function in terms of ensuring that everything occurs within the parameters of the plan and accompanying principles. The purpose of control was to identify deviations from objectives and plans and to take corrective action.

Fayol’s work was not widely known outside Europe until 1949, when a translation of his work appeared in the United States. Nevertheless, his discussion of the practice of management as a process consisting of specific functions had a tremendous influence on early management texts that appeared in the 1950s.

Management pioneers such as George Terry, Harold Koontz, Cyril O’Donnell, and Ralph Davis all published management texts in the 1950s that defined management as a process consisting of a set of interdependent functions. Collectively, these and several other management experts became identified with what came to be known as the process school of management.

According to the process school, management is a distinct intellectual activity consisting of several functions. The process theorists believe that all managers, regardless of their industry, organization, or level of management, engage in the functions of management. The process school of management became a dominant paradigm for studying management and the functions of management became the most common way of describing the nature of managerial work.


One response to this post.

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