Administrative Theory (Fayol)

Developed at same time as scientific management, Scott notes that administrative theory "emphasized management functions and attempted to generate broad administrative principles that would serve as guidelines for the rationalization of organizational activities" p. 36

While Taylor reorganized from "bottom up", administrative theorists looked at productivity improvements from the "top down". Early influencers were Henri Fayol (1949 trans.), Mooney and Reiley (1939) and Gulick and Urwick (1937).

Administrative theorists developed general guidelines of how to formalize organizational structures and relationships. They viewed the job as antecedent to the worker. Primarily these principles were broad guidelines for decision making.

Administrative theory was attacked by other rational theorists, especially Simon, who considered them not theory but merely truisms or contradictory statements.

These principles or "truisms" (depending on your perspective) included the following. Under coordination activities, Fayol and others suggested:

Scalar Principle
Recommends and emphasizes the hierarchical, pyrimidal structure of control relations (Scott p. 36)

Exception Principle
Recommends that all routine matters be handled by subordinates leaving superiors free to deal with exceptional issues where existing rules are inapplicable.

Span of Control Principle
Specifies that superior should have no more subordinates than they can effectively oversee.

Unity-of-Command Principle
Emphasizes that no subordinates should receive orders from more than one superior. Parsons and others have argued that this often doesn't happen effectively in most organizations (often the excecutive isn't qualified to handle more than external relations and thus delegates responsibility to more capable underlings).

Under the category of specialization issues, which are decisions about how activities are to be distributed among organizational positions and how to group positions into work groups and subunits, they suggested:

Departmentalization Principle
Activities should be grouped to combine related activities in the same administrative unit. Related activities could be based on similarity of purpose, process, clientele, or place.

Line-Staff Principle
Recommends that all activities directly related to organizational goals are line functions -- all others are staff functions that advise, service, or support. Staff units are segregated from line functions and are ultimately subordinate to them.