Henry Fayol's Principles of Administrative Theory for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Evaluation of Administrative Theory : Fayol's Principles of Management

Hello, aspirants are you preparing for UPSC Mains or APSC Mains? If yes, then you must be aware of the most important topics of Public Administration for the upcoming mains exam preparation. Therefore every aspirants of UPSC & APSC need to know which topics of Public Administration is more important than the other.

In this regard "World_Polity" decides to provide you the most important Public Administration important questions & answers for the upcoming mains exam.

This article concentrates on briefly helping you to understand the Administrative Theory special reference to Henry Fayol's Principles of Administrative Theory and the Evaluation of Administrative Theory for the upcoming UPSC Mains as well as APSC Mains exam. The meaning of Administrative Theory and Fayol's Principles of Management are extremely important and should be a part of your preparation. 

Henry Fayol's Principles of Administrative Theory for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Administrative Theory 

The administrative theory, also called the Principles of Administration, is the third component of the classical theories of organisations. It developed since 1900. Henry Fayol's landmark book of management principles appeared in France in 1916. Mooney and Reiley's excellent book 'Onward Industry' was published in 1931. Gulick and Urwick edited a book 'Papers on the Science of Administration' in 1937 which is probably the single most influential work on the principles of administration'.

A reading of the scientific management theory as discussed in the preceding pages, makes it apparent that the focus of that theory is on routine tasks and operations. These have not much relevance to general issues of administrative organisation. These general issues were first subjected to systematic theorising by Henry Fayol (a French mining engineer) who believed that his principles applied equally to industrial and public organisations. These theories were further developed by writers like Luther Gulick, L.F. Urwick, James Mooney and others. 

The supporters of this theory were not confined to theory building only, they were active practical reformers too. They were trying to develop ‘principles of administration' applicable to the entire organisation. For them organisation was the primary unit of analysis and design.

The administrative theory is closely related to the bureaucratic theory of organisation. Both the theories are largely deductive and take a normative view of organisation. Both advocate formal organisations that take advantage of specialisation. Both emphasise order, objectivity, rationality, certainty, hierarchy and professionalism. 

Moreover the administrative theory shares the dysfunctions of bureaucracy (for dysfunctions, see the chapter on bureaucracy) like rigidity, impersonality, self perpetuation etc. Thus both these theories are largely identical.

But both these theories developed independently. The bureaucratic theory was developed largely by sociologists and other scholars who took a detached view and described bureaucracy as a normative model of organisation. 

On the other hand, the members of the administrative school were practical men of action. Often they were practising managers. Their orientation was to prescribe principles and other concepts for achieving formal organisations. “Bureaucratic theorists said what an organisation ought to be ; administrative theorists told how to accomplish it.” Moreover bureaucratic theory focuses on organisation, whereas the administrative theory emphasise management, a component of the organisation.

Principles of Administrative Theory

The general principles of administrative theory are as under :

1. The central problem of a government organisations is one of coordinating the elaborate system in which full opportunity ought to be taken of the advantages of specialisation.

2. Principles must be discovered for breaking down and allocating the tasks of government among different departments or agencies to assist effective specialisation.

3. Responsibilities must be defined and clarified and unity of command must be secured to ensure effective performance. This naturally implies that the whole system will follow a clear hierarchical pattern in which subordinates will take orders from only one superior and the ‘span of control' will be rationally settled.

4. Staff services have to be inserted at appropriate points in the hierarchy to assist planning and coordination. This is particularly desirable at the top of the structure. These 'staff services' have to be properly defined and located and reconciled with the principle of 'unity of command,

5. Organisational structure is the key to rational efficient administration. People should be correctly fitted to the structure. The organisation chart is a basic tool for monitoring and controlling the entire administrative process.

6. The basic criteria for structuring the organisation should be fourfold-purposes they serve, processes they use, clientele i.e. persons or things worked with, and territory i.e. place where the work is done.

7. Authority required for carrying out the tasks assigned in the organisation, must be given to those who are responsible for those tasks. The responsibility and authority must be delegated down the hierarchy to its logical level. The top management should concentrate on the setting of goals of the organisation and general policies, to be implemented by subordinates.

8. Planning is a necessary administrative function. It is through planning that the management creates the organisational foresight necessary for long term survival and prosperity.

9. The management should take human psychological variables into consideration. It should work to create conditions under which workers feel that they are being treated fairly and equitably. To promote initiative and willingness to accept responsibility, incentives and other personnel practices have been suggested. 

Fayol's Principles of Management

According to Henry Fayol, administration is a process that must be carried out at all levels of organisation, and the main elements of administration are planning organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Gulick improved upon this and gave his POSDCORB concept, that is Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting. 

Fayol described numher of management principles-division of work, authority and responsibility, discipline , unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interest to general interest, remuneration of personnel, centralization , scalar chain or hierarchy, order , equity, stability of tennure of personnel, initiative, esprit de corps, etc. 

Evaluation of Administrative Theory

The administrative theory had an important impact on public administration, although it was more evident in U.S.A. than in Britain. Like the scientific management theory, it was in tune with the values and goals of the administrative reform movement. The theory was most influential between 1930 and 1950. The influence of this theory "is clearly visible in the “reformed' administrative structures of many governments in the United States. 

Its impact on the administrative thought is evidenced in the recommendations of many prestigious advisory groups and committees including the Brownlow Committee (1937) and Hoover Commission Reports (1949, 1955) dealing with administrative reforms on the federal level.” This seemed to provide, at least on surface, an answer to Wilson's call for 'science of administration'. It offered practical prescriptions concerning how to construct logical and efficient organisational structures which were easy to understand. 

Prof. Peter Self is of the view that “Fayol and the other theorists did far more than point out obvious defects. One of their contributions was to promote the use of certain management techniques, such as reporting, accounting and budgeting, in which public administration was deficient. But they also believed they could furnish a more comprehensive set of principles for arranging the formal structure of administration."

The general criticism of administrative theory is that it never used the established scientific methods. It has not been verified under controlled repeatable scientific conditions. Most of the principles of this theory were based on personal experiences and the observation of how existing organisations were administered.

The critics say that in the absence of scientific basis, this theory is a mere set of proverbs, comparable to folklore and folk-wisdom. Simon and Waldo agree that the methods used by the principles school were simply not scientific. 

The Administrative theory is full of contradictions for which it came under scathing criticism, Simon wrote, “It is a fatal defect of current principles of administration that, like proverbs, they occur in pairs. For almost every principle one can find an equally plausible and acceptable contradictory principle. 

Although the two principles of the pair will lead to exactly opposite recommendations, there is nothing in the theory to indicate which is the proper one to apply.” The principles of 'centralisation' and 'decentralisation', 'span of control and 'mininising the number of supervisory levels' are examples of this type. These examples are illustrative, not exhaustive.

Another point of criticism is that the excessive belief among the members of this school, in the values of a disciplined hierarchy is a mistake. “Further understanding of social behaviour suggests that organisations can generally function at least as effectively, and can provide better personal satisfactions to their members, when structured more flexibly.” Besides the formal structures, there are other factors also which hold an organisation together and enable it function more harmoniously.

It is also said that this theory held an over-simplified view of organisation. It led its supporters to expect too much of a few ‘principles'. They overlook the diversity of factors and circumstances which differentiate organisations and even the same  organisation at different points of history. 

Relevant Articles You May Like :

Max Weber on the Rise of Bureaucracy

Machiavelli’s Political Thought and ideas 

Critical Evaluation of Marxian Perspective of State 

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