Fayol and Mintzberg Management Roles

Keywords: management theory comparison, foyal management theory

In the era of modernisation these days, it appears that the purpose of managers in every single organisation is becoming so essential that we are required to understand the real concept behind management as well as the actual tasks performed by a manager. An understanding of the nature of management is vital for all members of society because all of us will at home stage to be a manager, and an understanding of the concept will enable us to become more effective in that role (Bartol, Martin, Tein & Matthews, 1995, p.13). Throughout the development of management, there are classical theory of management and modern management theory. As categorized by a French industrialist, Henri Fayol, the classic management portrays 4 functions known as POLC: Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling. However, in the late 1960’s, Henri Mintzberg undertook a careful study of 5 executives to determine what these managers did on their jobs. In Mintzberg’s framework, a manager consists of 3 roles: informational roles, interpersonal roles, and decisional roles. Throughout this essay, the structure will be first about discussion of Fayol and Mintzberg theories in management, then, their comparison and contrast relating functional and process approaches in describing managerial tasks and ultimately the assumption section. The objective of this essay is to identify and provide evidences of the similarities and differences between Fayol and Mintzberg ideas that expectantly may help the reader to enrich his/her knowledge in advance.

Henri Fayol’s theory

Henri Fayol identified four functions in management popular as the term POLC: Planning, Organising, Leading, and Controlling. The first term is planning, described as formulating idea and performance for goals to be accomplished. Organising, defined as the arrangement of all issues in accordance with attainment of the work, including task, people, or any other resources. Leading, the act of maintaining motivation among the workers hence all are inspired to work hard and able to achieve high performance. Eventually, Controlling is reckoned as the act of measuring performance and taking action to desired results. An evaluation is required to improve the outcome on the next performance (Schermerhorn, Campling, Poole & Wiesner, 2004).

Henri Mintzberg’s theory

Henri Mintzberg is known as the initiator of 3 significant roles in management. Mintzberg stated that the actual work methods of managers differed quite drastically from popular images of managers as reflective, systematic planners spending considerable quiet time in their offices poring over formal reports (Bartol et al, 1995). Managers, by Mintzberg, are comprised of intrapersonal role, informational role and decisional role. Intrapersonal role is the role in which people and sense of duties symbolic in nature are involved. This role comprised of figurehead, leader, and liaison. Informational role is associated with receiving, collecting, and disseminating information, which is monitor, disseminator, and spokesperson. Furthermore, decisional role is the role which revolves around making decision and entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator are included.

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The comparison between the function and the process approach

As described by Fayol that planning is the process to predict the future in which required personal and interpersonal competencies in building it. Mintzberg’s roles of the figurehead, leader, liaison, monitor, entrepreneur, resource allocator seems to demonstrate that those roles plan inasmuch as Monitor, according to Mintzberg, is responsible for motivation and activation of subordinates; responsible for staffing, training, and associated duties, this is evident that both sides do planning. As argued by Lamond (2004), when we examine Fayol’s planning function, there is a series of behaviours that constitute the enactment of Mintzberg’s managerial role in the process of planning, such as information gathering, consultation, etc. For example, transmitting information through the disseminator role or representing the organisation through the negotiator role in itself has little meaning unless it is linked to a purpose such as the POLC (Bartol et al, 1995). In Fayol’s view, controlling means verifying whether everything works as the plan, in the same vein, Mintzberg’s stated that disturbance handler takes corrective action when an organisation faces unexpected disturbances; this proves both of them agree that there must be one to control the situation whenever it goes against plan. As we compare the leader role (motivating and activating subordinates, staffing, training and associated duties), we can broaden our appreciation of the activities in terms of whether they are aimed at assessing the future and making provision for it (planning), providing the undertaking with raw materials, tools, capital, personnel (organizing), making unity, energy, initiative, and loyalty prevail among the personnel (commanding), “harmonizing” all the activities of the concern (coordinating) or verifying whether everything occurs in conformity with the plans, instructions and principles (controlling) (Lamond, 2004).

Once stated by Wren (1994) as cited in Lamond (2004), As far from representing the ‘folklore’ of Fayol’s functions, what Mintzberg has done, in fact, is make trying to elaborate the roles in which managers (and others) engage when carrying out their managerial functions. In other words, Mintzberg has provided some of the empirical reports that establish the link between the managerial behaviours, via the roles that managers perform rather than representing competing views with Fayol then, they are simply different views with the similar thought.

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The contrast of the function and the process approach

The classical management theory depicts manager tasks as planning, organising, leading and controlling. Mintzberg, on the basis of his observations, concluded that manager’s job consisted of many brief and disjointed episodes with people inside and outside the organisation. (Luthans, 1988, p.1). The contrasts between Fayol managerial styles, related to individual preferences concerning which and how roles are enacted, and, Mintzberg managerial styles, refer to the actual roles enacted and how they are enacted (Lamond, 2004) are described below.

Planning, according to the observation done by Lamond, Fayol style of planning is prone to be more alert in which managers focus on the long run organisation’s achievement and concern more on details of the whole current situation. However, Mintzberg, in his planning style, may be considered more flexible as every decision taken is concern on the short-term organisational goal based on the general knowledge; moreover, this style is more up to the present situation and adapt to changes. In Fayol’s organising style, managers are supposed to assemble all related resources to work under way and responsible for the staffs health and welfare. Nonetheless, in Mintzberg’s framework, organise refers as creating changes and building awareness of the staff’s legal responsibilities as well as providing teamwork in the organisation. Leading, from Lamond observation about Fayol is defined as motivating the workers to get along with their task well and giving immediate feedback. On the other hand, Mintzberg type’s of leading is stated as encouraging people to work, somehow reminding them of the organisation objectives as well as expressing contentment while expectations are met. Ultimately, Fayol describes controlling as the act to promote good relationship among internal staffs in order to gain good customer’s response, in addition, to evaluate the results attained and provide immediate response. Conversely, from the study of Mintzberg idea, controlling focuses on maintaining good relationships with others and utilises a problem focused approach to evaluation and feedback (Lamond, 2004).

As argued by Tsoukas (1994) as cited in Lamond (2004), Mintzberg was concerning with the directly observable ways of managers, while Fayol was dealing with specific management functions as necessary condition for the existence of these practices and as a basis of explaining the source of their characteristics. Mintzberg characterise manager’s work as constituting much brief, variegated, and fragmented work, carried out at an unrelenting pace. Mintzberg notes that “categorizations of work content and purpose lead to statements of functions or role” that is, “an organized set of behaviours belonging to an identifiable office or position” (Mintzberg, 1973, p.54). It is, indeed, Fayol and Mintzberg have two different view of presenting management. Fayol is more to the basic concept of management and presenting it just as simple as people want it to be. On the other hand, Mintzberg presents his idea based on the reality faced by managers which he considered managers’ works are at the insistent rapidity.

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The perspective presented by Mintzberg and Fayol appears to be different views of the same picture, driven, on the one hand, by Fayol’s focus on what managers should do if they lived in an idealized state, and, on the other hand, Mintzberg’s concern with what managers actually do, given the demands they experienced day to day (Lamond, 2004, p.337).


Mintzberg and Fayol assume that managers, regardless of their position or level in the organization, perform the same function and roles. In Mintzberg assumption, he put the views that as manager engage in an activity, he should reckoned his job and understand why he does it as the broadest sense of responsibilities. In Fayol’s theory, it assumes that he merely introduces the polc based on his perceptive. As suggested by Smith & Boyns (2005), while Fayol proffers a theory that makes intuitive sense, it is not always able to be translated into the action consistent with the demand that a manager’s dealt in workplace.


In conclusion, we can see that basically Fayol and Mintzberg contribution in the world of management represents similarities but stay in the different perspectives. Fayol appears to maintain the functional approach which manager’s task is classified based on the basic concept of plan, organise, lead and control. On the other hand, Mintzberg, who criticized Fayol’s work as folklore, creates 10 managerial roles to represent the real managerial work. The combination of functions and role, and the relationship between them, clearly suggests that the model proffered by Mintzberg (1973) and Fayol (1949) can be seen to represent different levels of the same ontological reality, at least to the extent that, given the similarities between Fayol’s characterisation and manager’s preferences and between managers day-to-day experiences and Mintzberg roles, Fayol gave us management as we would like it to be and Mintzberg gave us management as it is (Lamond, 2003-2004).

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