Fayol Publishes Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

In his General and Industrial Management, Henri Fayol provided the beginnings of a general theory of management based on his fifty-eight years of successful administrative experience.

Summary of Event

Henri Fayol was born in 1841 to a family of the French lower middle class. He was educated at the National School of Mines at St. Étienne and at the age of nineteen graduated as a mining engineer. In 1860, he accepted a job in the mines of the Commentary-Fourchambault Company (Comambault). He stayed with the same employer until his retirement in 1918. General and Industrial Management (Fayol) Management;theory Business;management [kw]Fayol Publishes General and Industrial Management (July, 1916) [kw]Publishes General and Industrial Management, Fayol (July, 1916) [kw]General and Industrial Management, Fayol Publishes (July, 1916) [kw]Management, Fayol Publishes General and Industrial (July, 1916) General and Industrial Management (Fayol) Management;theory Business;management [g]France;July, 1916: Fayol Publishes General and Industrial Management[04010] [c]Business and labor;July, 1916: Fayol Publishes General and Industrial Management[04010] [c]Publishing and journalism;July, 1916: Fayol Publishes General and Industrial Management[04010] Fayol, Henri Taylor, Frederick Winslow

During his years with Comambault, Fayol pursued three different career stages. During the first twelve years, he worked on technical issues, especially the problem of overcoming explosions and fires in the coal mines. From 1872 to 1888, he served as director of operations for a group of mines in the company’s coal business. His intellectual efforts during this second stage were centered on geologic questions, and he published his thoughts on this subject in three technical monographs.

Beginning in 1888, Fayol took on the greatest challenge of his industrial career. He was appointed director-general of Comambault, becoming chief executive of a firm that was on the verge of bankruptcy. According to Lyndall Urwick, author of a foreword to the 1949 edition of Fayol’s General and Industrial Management, “The success with which he carried out those duties is one of the romances of French industrial history.” Fayol became known across Europe for his success in turning the firm around. When Fayol retired in 1918, Comambault was financially strong and among the largest industrial combines of Europe.

The practical knowledge that Fayol gained through his legendary industrial success led him to a fourth career after retirement. He became an advocate of management studies in the schools, and in the process of promoting this belief he gained even more notability as the founder of a revolutionary new approach to management thought.

In two papers written prior to his retirement, Fayol began to express his views on management and on the methods he had used successfully at Comambault. In 1900, he argued that management should be considered a necessary skill of organizational life, a skill that is separate and apart from any technical knowledge. His point was that every individual at work and at home carries out administrative functions to a certain degree every day, no matter what title or position the person holds. Fayol had become convinced of the universality of administrative processes, and from this belief he argued that society in general would benefit from the study of management fundamentals at all educational levels. In private enterprise and in public administration, the development of effective managers would be speeded if young trainees were first given a theoretical foundation and then matured through experience. In the home, the church, and social organizations, improved administrative abilities would lead to more efficient uses of personal and societal resources.

In his second preretirement paper, “Discourse on the General Principles of Administration,” "Discourse on the General Principles of Administration" (Fayol)[Discourse on the General Principles of Administration] presented in 1908, Fayol began to identify some of the methods that he believed had led to his successes at Comambault. He was searching for a theory of management to act as a foundation for the practices he had discovered through experience. In this paper he also began to argue that a firm’s technical expertise (tactical actions) is of little benefit if the firm’s administrators are “defective” in their managerial duties (strategic actions). According to Fayol, good administrative talent is more important to the success of an organization than is technical expertise.

His most important written work was a monograph titled “Administration Industrielle et Générale,” which first appeared in the Bulletin of the Societe de L’Industrie Minerale in 1916. This work merged his thoughts from the two previous papers and expanded on a set of principles and concepts that he considered to be “lighthouses” that would lead to a theory of administration. In 1925, the monograph was published in book form in France, and in 1929 it was translated for the first time into English and published in Great Britain. Known to many management scholars in English-speaking countries by the title General and Industrial Management—a translation of the original title that appeared on a 1949 publication of the work—it became a milestone in the history of management thought. So much of contemporary management theory and practice is built on Fayol’s ideas and terminology that it has become difficult to find anything that appears to be unique in his writings. His ideas, however, were certainly revolutionary in the early decades of the twentieth century.

In General and Industrial Management, after repeating his arguments for the teaching of management in the schools, Fayol directed his attention to finding a starting point for the educational process by detailing those ideas and principles that he had discovered through practice. His theory, therefore, is based on experience. He first segregated industrial undertakings into activities to clarify the place of administration. Duties within the enterprise, he proposed, could be divided into six categories: technical activities, including production and manufacture; commercial activities of buying, selling, and exchange; financial activities of finding and using capital; security activities of protecting property and persons; accounting activities of inventory control and calculation of balance sheets, costs, and statistics; and managerial activities involving foresight, organization, coordination, and control. Fayol pointed out that individuals need specialized learning to carry out the particular tasks of each of the first five activities, but that managerial capability is generally applied. That is, managerial capability is necessary in each of the first five activities, and it is needed to provide high-level overall direction to the enterprise.

Fayol also sought to spell out the personal characteristics of a good manager. He listed six qualities to look for in determining administrative potential: physical qualities of health and vigor; mental qualities, including the ability to understand and learn, judgment, mental vigor, and adaptability; moral qualities of energy, firmness, willingness to accept responsibility, initiative, loyalty, tact, and dignity; general education; special knowledge peculiar to any technical, commercial, financial, or managerial function to be performed; and experience. He understood that the importance of each of these characteristics varies with the level in the hierarchy of the position to be filled. He attempted to establish the relative importance of each of these abilities by graphically plotting their relationships to each of his six industrial activities.

The primary obstacle to offering management courses in the schools, Fayol determined, was the lack of something to teach. There was an absence of theory, and without theory the only method of developing managerial capabilities was on-the-job experience. Fayol attempted in part 2 of General and Industrial Management to build a foundation for a theory of management.

His fourteen principles of good management, taken from his fifty-eight years of experience, were in his view the beginnings of the development of a theoretical basis for organizational administration. These fourteen principles were as follows: division of work into specialized tasks; authority and responsibility, or the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience; discipline, or clear agreement between management and labor regarding rules and the judicious use of sanctions; unity of command, by which an employee should have only one superior; unity of direction, with only one head and one plan for a group of activities having the same objective; subordination of interests, with individuals subordinating their personal interests to those of the firm; fair and reasonable pay; centralization; a clear hierarchy of authority; a place for everything and everything in its place; equity, with kindness and justice in employee relations; stability of tenure of personnel, with orderly personnel planning and provisions to replace human resources; initiative, with promotion of zeal and energy on the job; and a spirit of teamwork.

To provide structure to this study of management, Fayol suggested that a school’s curriculum be designed around the functions performed by a manager. He broke the managerial process into five basic elements: forecasting and planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Based on his experience, he concluded that these are the managerial activities carried out in the direction of the parts or the whole of an organization.


During the nineteenth century, business firms in the United States and Europe grew in size beyond anything ever seen before, and many were profitable because they were the first to apply some newly discovered operational or marketing strategy. Efficiency, however, was neglected, and the potential for tactical improvements was quite high. New methods of organizing the production process would turn out to be the keys to success for the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Henry Ford Ford, Henry revolutionized the manufacturing process by achieving great increases in productivity through the use of the moving assembly line. His specialized machines, interchangeable parts, and standardized products became the definition of American mass production. The tremendous success of the Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company earned the attention of managers worldwide.

Frederick Winslow Taylor, an American industrial engineer, began to study work itself by examining the actual steps taken by workers on the shop floor. He applied science to the improvement of the work process and by so doing introduced the world to the time study Time-and-motion studies[Time and motion studies] and other scientific management Scientific management ideas. Taylor and his disciples began a “cult of efficiency” that spread across American industry.

Taylorism was popularized in Europe through the successful use of scientific management techniques to meet military needs during World War I. Americans demonstrated the potential of such techniques in building docks, roads, and bridges, and in setting up communication lines. After the war, Henry-Louis Le Châtelier and Charles de Freminville promoted Taylorism in France. Its popularity overshadowed Fayol’s efforts until the last few years of his life.

Immediately after his retirement in 1918, Fayol founded and presided over the Center of Administrative Studies, an organization he used to promote the concepts of what would become known as Fayolism. For most of the years after the initial publication of General and Industrial Management and before Fayol’s death in 1925, the disciples of Taylor and the followers of Fayol competed with each other for the attention of French managers. Fayol always contended, however, that the two approaches were in fact complementary. In 1924, others began to agree with his assessment of the situation, and the Center of Administrative Studies merged with Le Châtelier-de Freminville to form the Comité National de l’Organization Française.

The approaches that Taylor and Fayol took were simply different paths to the same general goal. They both sought to improve the practice of management through the application of scientific methods. Taylor had begun his career on the shop floor, and his approach came from these beginnings. His methods were mostly tactical and were centered on production processes and accounting procedures. His view was primarily from the bottom up. Fayol, in contrast, discovered his principles and processes while holding a position at the top of a large mining organization. His concepts were mostly strategic, taking the top executive’s view and attempting to integrate the whole from the top down.

Although Fayol’s writings were not translated into English until 1929, and even then were not well distributed in book form outside of France, his ideas began to be disseminated in the United States somewhat earlier through the debates that became rather common between Taylorites and Fayolites on the European continent. Fayol’s major influence on American management, however, came after World War II with the 1949 publication of his book under the title General and Industrial Management, translated by Constance Storrs. His functional approach to the study of management became known in the literature as the process school of management thought. By the 1950’s, chapters of most management textbooks were structured around his functional areas of planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Fayol’s work provided the important theoretical foundation needed to prepare students to enter the practice of management. General and Industrial Management (Fayol) Management;theory Business;management

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Archer, Earnest R. “Toward a Revival of the Principles of Management.” Industrial Management 32 (January/February, 1990): 19-22. An analysis of how Japanese management methods are related to Fayol’s classic principles. Argues that the Japanese have applied Fayol’s principles and that the United States should return to these basic ideas. An excellent comparison of the classical approach and the precepts that have brought success to the Japanese.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Breeze, John D. “Harvest from the Archives: The Search for Fayol and Carlioz.” Journal of Management 11 (Spring, 1985): 43-47. A discussion of Fayol’s management ideas as applied by one of his top management assistants. Carlioz directed Comambault’s commercial department and was in charge of purchasing and selling. His application of Fayol’s methods brought practicality to the theory.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Fayol, Henri. General and Industrial Management. Translated by Constance Storrs. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1949. Consists of the first two sections of Administration Industrielle et Générale. Includes Fayol’s arguments for teaching management in the schools, his discussion of the six industrial activities, details of his management principles, and a discussion of the functions included in the administrative apparatus. The foreword by Lyndall Urwick provides an excellent overview of Fayol’s accomplishments.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">George, Claude S., Jr. The History of Management Thought. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972. Includes Fayol among six early contributors to the science of management in his classic history of management. Discusses each of Fayol’s principles and his functions of the manager briefly.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Miner, John B. Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Theories, and Analyses. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Addresses topics of motivation, leadership, and decision making in organizations. Includes introductory material on the origins and history of management theory.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Parker, Lee D., and Philip A. Ritson. “Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management.” British Journal of Management 16, no. 3 (September, 2005): 175-194. Presents a reexamination of Fayol’s life and career, including the arguments he made in General and Industrial Management, to show that today Fayol’s work is often somewhat misrepresented and that it actually anticipated a number of elements of modern management thought.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Urwick, Lyndall. The Elements of Administration. New York: Harper & Bros., 1944. Uses the work of Fayol as the framework for a study of several key management scholars. Consolidates the principles and ideas of each scholar. A key resource for those studying Fayol.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wren, Daniel. The Evolution of Management Thought. 4th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993. Includes brief discussion of Fayol’s career and his key contributions to management theory. Discusses his arguments for teaching management in schools, lists and discusses his principles, and spells out clearly and concisely the processes of planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Well written and well researched.

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Categories: History