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
Administrative theory was attacked by other rational theorists, especially
Simon, who considered them not theory but merely truisms or contradictory
These principles or "truisms" (depending on your perspective)
included the following. Under coordination activities, Fayol and others
Recommends and emphasizes the hierarchical, pyrimidal structure of control
relations (Scott p. 36)
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
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:
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.
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.