Managers Work Is Functions Or Roles Management Essay

What manager does today has developed so far nowadays, along with the expanding of the organisation to fit with what society needs, manager has to adapt with different circumstances that demanding them to make the organisation producing efficiently and effectively. To define what is the function of managers, Fayol proposed a concept about the classical function of managers:planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling that have been known in management and still applicable and relevant to today’s work of managers. However, Fayol’s notion had been doubted by writers such as Mintzberg that developed his own idea about managerial works and called Fayol’s notion as a folklore as if it was according to him no longer applicable: “The classical view says that the manager organizes, coordinates, plans and controls; the facts suggest otherwise.” (Harvard Business Review.p. 49.1975). Another writer that shared a common idea with Mintzberg about Fayol’s concept is Kotter, claimed that there were influenced of manager’s networks with the way they set up their goals and their implementations and Mahoney, Jerdee and Carroll widened the manager classical function into eight roles, which were planning, representing, investigating, negotiating, coordinating, evaluating, supervising and staffing (Carroll and Gillen pp. 40-43)

Mintzberg explained in his paper that Fayol did not significantly explain manager’s wide variety of works based on circumstances that needed a priority (Hardvard Business Review.pp.49-50). Based on his own observation, Mintzberg found ten roles instead of four function (Carroll, Gillen p.39) and each roles were spesifically explained. They were inter-personal roles: figurehead, leader, liaison, informational roles: montior, nerve centre and spokesman, decision making roles: entrepeneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator (Carroll, Gillen p.39). This concept indicates that the manager work process are often discontinue, changing, flexible and very wide based on present situation that managers face. This arises a question whether or not the classical function of managers still applicable.

To comprehend this in-depth at first we need to look at from point of view that disagrees with classical functions of management, what kind of observation that had been conducted by these writers to think otherwise. In Mintzberg concept, the manager has to adapt quickly with the needs of the organisation and sometimes act out of the classical roles by actively seeking information, that which he believes does not reflect the classical function of planning itself. He gave an example of a manager in a very successful organisation had to well-prepared to deal with sudden circumstances that were unplanned, skipped some of their plans just because a spontaneus problem, or some of the managers do their own field survey by gathering opinions from internal and external stakeholders, that indicated a manager had to be very flexible with what organisations faced. Furthermore, Mintzberg within his theory said the manager’s job in essence is to affect the entire organisation work and this could be done in three ways: managing action directly, managing people who take action and managing information that drive people. Lau, Newman and Broedling had conducted a survey to some managers to test Mintzberg method, apart for being a leader at the same time it appeared that manager had to analyze the problem in hands rather than waiting to be informed, but their findings did not support Mintzberg theory with the reason it was lack of explicitly to explain the roles of manager with the organisation goal (Carroll, Gillen p.39).


Carroll and Taylor explained that Mintzberg and other writers’ theories that opposed Fayol were flawed because the method of his observation was a form of an outsider observer, conducted by observing their work by the appearance of work such as physical activities (Carroll and Gillen. p. 43). For example in the Mintzberg observation which indicating his findings, but was not regarding the fact that all the management function that every type of managers do were basically the same in general, only with the different focus on particular roles in each type (Robbins et al. Management 6th ed. p.16). From Mintzberg’s claim that some cases there were meetings unplanned,nevertheless, it was argued that although their appointments somehow were off the schedule but their discussion or the subject that came to matter in their discussion coming from a planned objectivities, a projection project or directing the subordinates about how things were supposed to run and those all activities were required in planning, organizing, commanding, controlling and coordinating.

Mintzberg disregarded the facts that Fayol’s five roles concept from which coming the expansion of fourteen principles. As earlier mentioned about Mintzberg opinion about the managers direct the subordinates as a part of outside the outlines, is also a part of the basic principles that Fayol conceptualized, which is initiative and ordering, to let workers have an initiative thinking to encourage their creativity, the managers also directing them and commanding them but not forgetting their responsibility. Fayol theory was specifically and explicitly containing all the work of the manager does, along with the fourteen principles that address this particular concept as a whole. With the later examination, those fourteen principles are applicable within the organisation, such as changing and organizing, decision making, improving skills of manager, comprehend the application of the diversity of management with various tasks in the field (Explanation of 14th principles of Management of Henri Fayol. 1916).

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What Mintzberg was unaware is that his concept along with others had just expanded the Fayol’s classification management function only to focus on in verifying their own theories that the roles tend to overlapping to one another, and it makes them really hard to be explained as if it oftenly describes as the same thing (Carrol and Gillen 1987 p. 38). It is clear enough to say that by the evidence of the survey to verify Mintzberg theory that from whatever organisation and level position the manager has, they all have shared the common function. There are three levels of manager, the first is the first-line manager, then middle manager, and the last and highest is top manager (Robbins et al. Management 6th ed. p.10). For example: a high executive CEO of Apple’s company compares to 7-11 manager despite of differences level and type of manager and organisation they are, they are still applied the five functions or nowadays as if it is now the commanding and coordinating functions has been fused into leading, into their managerial work. However, the type of functions they prioritize more on their jobs depending on what level they are now on, the 7-11 manager will be more focusing on leading, while the high executive CEO of Apple will be centralized in organising.

This brief explanation can give us a clearer understanding why the functions of Fayol is more prominent and more correct in choosing the way to describe what managers do. However, Mintzberg observation is not at all in vain, it gives us the comprehension about what kind of roles that manager should acquire in order to gain the functions itself, because somehow the two concepts can be related, as in some ways they are roles such disturbance handler is within the function of controlling for example. This is answer the question that has been asked about whether the classical function of management is still fit to describe the manager itself has been settled to the final answer, that it is. Because no matter where they are, whatever the title they have, what kind of activity they engage, what kind of organisation they run, if it involves with all Fayol’s function then, they are called manager.

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Carroll, S. And Gillen, D. (1987) Are the Classical Management Functions Useful in Describing Managerial Work?, Academy of Management Review 12(1), pp. 38-51. PDF File

Article in Harvard business review, Vol. 53. no. 4, Jul. /Aug. 1975, pp. 49-61. PDF File

Henri Fayol. Explanation of 14th principles of Management. 1916. Web. 15 September 2012.

Robbins et al. Introduction to Organisations and Management. Management 6th ed. 2012

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