“To what extent are Fayol’s functions of management still relevant in Today’s predominantly service economy? Discuss

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Managerial functions form the basis of successful management of people and resources in an organization. The role of management functions cannot be downplayed since they determine the success of an organization. Henri Fayol remains a major pioneer in management theory field. Fayol’s proposed five main management functions namely: forecasting, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling (Fayol 1949). These functions are still applicable in the current organizational management and help the managers to remain proactive in the contemporary service industry. This paper analyses the relevance of Henri Fayol’s management function in modern organizations.


The managerial functions as proposed by Fayol help in unifying the organization activities in order to enhance service delivery. Fayol’s theory is still being widely used by many modern organizations due to its applicability and concept. According to Pryor & Taneja 2010, pp 493, the functions are still relevant today and increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Managers should remain proactive in order to remain relevant in the current ever changing market demands in order to enhance quality service delivery. According to Fayol, management functions are universal and can be performed by any manager in different fields such as business, government, religious, military and other fields (Lamond 1998, pp. 5).


Forecasting is crucial in predicting the future conditions. Nowadays, managers make future considerations in order to stay ahead of the competition. Coordination helps to harmonize an organization’s activities. Commanding is a critical element in instilling a sense of responsibility among the employees. The management theories as advanced by Fayol helps to effectively manage the work force in an organization. Communication is key to the success of the service industry and among the most valuable and widely used tools in many organizations today. Managers communicate organizational goals and expectations to employees and encourage employees to provide feedback. These functions are traced back to Fayol’s management functions (Lamond 1998, pp. 3).


Managers must control the activities of an organization in order to ensure that the employee work in line with the company’s objectives and policies. Controlling helps in cost effectiveness and profitability. In the absence of sound management practices, an organization’s performance, profitability and sustainability may be compromised. Fayol’s theories continue to be relevant to managers because they formed an early management theory foundation which still exists today (Fayol 1949 p. 3). Organising is an integral part of every organization since it structures the working relations and facilitates team work among the employees. According to Fayol 1949, pp. 346, planning refers to assessment of the future prospects and making the necessary provisions. Forecasting helps managers to in planning and allocating resources for the future strategies. Fayol regards the possibility of flexibility and continuity in order to meet future organization demands.


The elements in Fayol’s theory include management functions, principles of management, and management definitions including activities and classification. Mostly, vital strategic planning decisions fall in the hands of top level management. Responsibility and authority are crucial in management as they help an organization to achieve its goals (Fayol 1949, p. 21). Unity of command is crucial because it ensures that employees receive orders from specific superior. This helps in reducing chaos that can be present in case of lack of command or many commanders at the same time (Fayol 1949, pp. 25). Fayol’s management functions are still used in today’s management theories since they have proven to be efficient and effective over the years (Breeze J.D 1985, pp. 43).


According to Fells 2000, pp. 350, theorists such as Mintzberg(1973) and Kotter(1982), tend to affirm Fayol’s classical view instead of denying it. In the current organizational strategies, planning for long term goals is a common occurrence and involves managerial functions such as forecasting, controlling, coordinating and commanding. Pryrol et al, 2010 pp. 389, states that Fayol’s theory is more compatible with 5P’s of the model on strategic leadership. Fayol’s management theories compliment well with the strategic management models and leadership theories. Over the years, Fayol’s theories have proven to be useful to managers. They are applicable and flexible enough to fit the current management demands and global challenges.

The management functions help to clearly define the managerial roles in an organization. Deviation from these functions can create chaos since every organization requires sound managerial strategies in order to achieve the desired results. The five management functions may not represent the total managerial functions but form a critical part of the contemporary organization management functions. Fayol advances management functions as core towards the success of management in an organization (Fell 2000, p. 345). Presently, the functions have been reduced into planning, leading, organising and controlling. According to Fell 2000, pp.345, Fayol’s management functions are still in use, regardless of other classical school of thought theorists in management functions.



Fayol’s management function theory has remained relevant for a long and is still being used by many modern organizations up to date (Fells 2000, pp.359). Fayol gave future theorists and managers the freedom to make the necessary amendments in order to achieve flexible managerial functions that suit the organizational needs. The current management theories have been tailored to meet individual organizational needs. However, Fayol theories form an essential reference point for most of the contemporary managerial practices. Despite the criticism facing the Fayol theory, his contributions still remain as the most widely applied management theories in the world, due to their flexibility and applicability.



Breeze J.D 1985, ‘Harvest from the archives: the search for Fayol and Carlioz’, Journal of             Management, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 43-54.

Carroll, Stephen J., and Dennis J. Gillen 1980, “Are the Classical Management Functions              Useful in Describing Managerial Work?” Academy of Management Review 12, no. 1            pp. 381.

  1. Parker Lee and A. Ritson Philip 2005, ‘Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management’, British Journal of Management. Vol 16, pp. 175-194.

Fayol, H., 1949, ‘General and Industrial Management’, London: Pitman.

Fells, M. J., 2000, ‘Fayol stands the test of time’, Journal of Management History, 6(8), pp.          345-360.

Lamond,D. 1998, ‘Back to the Future: Lessons from the past for a new management era’. In                    Griffin G (ed), Management and Theory practice. Macmillan Education Australia,     South Yarra, pp. 3-14.

Pryor, M. G. & Taneja, S 2010, ‘Henri Fayol, practitioner and theoretician – revered and

Reviled’, Journal of Management History, 16(4), pp. 489-503.


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