Posts Tagged Administrative theory

Centralization and Decentralization-2

Centralization is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group. In political science, this refers to the concentration of a government’s power – both geographically and politically, into a centralized government.


Decentralization is the process of dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people or citizen. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering, management science, political science, political economy, sociology and economics. Decentralization is also possible in the dispersal of population and employment. Law, science and technological advancements lead to highly decentralized human endeavors. 


Alfred P. Slogan played and instrumental role in developing a model of central control of decentralized operations for General motors based on the following twin premises:


  1. The responsibility attached to the chief executive of each operation shall in no way be limited. Each such organization headed by its chief executive shall be complete in every necessary function and enabled to exercise its full initiative and logical development (Decentralization of operations)
  2. Certain central organization functions are absolutely essential to the logical development and proper coordination of the Corporation’s activities: Centralized staff services to advise the line on specialized phases of the work, and central measurement of results to check the exercise of delegated responsibility.

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Today we discuss on Typology of Organization Structure. This will help to understand the basis for evolving different types of organizational structures and examine the relative merits and demerits of different types of organizational structures.



We are going to discuss briefly on the typology of organization structures. Organization structures based on classical bureaucratic principles are hierarchical. But modern organization theories attempted to modify them in the light of experience, changes in technology and knowledge about human behavior. The centralized structures gave way to some sort of decentralization and thus transformed, partially at least, vertical (tall) organizations into horizontal (flat) ones, reflecting a shift in emphasis from command to consensus based self control. The relative conditions of instability and uncertainty transformed the classical mechanistic forms of management systems into organic ones. The advent of specialization and requirements of coordination had thrown up new issues and strategic choices concerning product versus function and matrix organization. The salient features of different organization structures referred to above are briefly outlined here to provide and overview than comprehensive understanding of the underlying principles. We will discuss more in next post.

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The word “organization” may be used to refer to the process of organizing, the structure that evolves out pf this process and the processes/activities that take place within it. Organizations are social units with specific purposes. The basic elements of organizations have remained the same over the years. Several disciplines provide the knowledge and the means to understand organizations.


However, it is appropriate to look at organizations integrally in multi-disciplinary perspective. Three viewpoints have emerged, over the years in successive stages, each seeking to provide a window on the others. They are the classical approach, three streams stand out: bureaucracy, administrative theory and principles of scientific management. It is important to note that with the passage of time, the viewpoints have been changed or modified, but not replaced as such. Each major contribution brought new knowledge, awareness, tools and techniques to understand the organizations better. Thus, today we are richer than ever before tin terms of our knowledge about approaches to understand organizations. All the same, more knowledge meant reckoning with more complex variables to comprehend the complexities of human organizations. There is, as yet, no general, unified, universal theory as such. Organizations being diverse and complex in more senses than one, it is difficult, if not meaningless to be too general or too specific about them.

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Scientific Management-1

The third stream of classic school of thought is the scientific management. The principles of scientific management were first developed around 1900. Among the pioneering proponents of the principles of scientific management, particular mention should be made of Frederick Winston Taylor, an engineer by profession. Whereas bureaucracy and administrative theory focused on macro aspects of the structure and process of human organizations, scientific management concerned itself with micro aspects such as physical activities of work thorough time-and-motion study and examination of men-machine relationships.


Unlike in the other two, the scientific management laid emphasis on activities at shop floor or work unit level than management and based its inductive reasoning on detailed study and empirical evidence. In juxtaposition the principles of bureaucracy and administrative theory were formed by synthesizing experience and observation with abstract reasoning.


Taylor’s principles of scientific management could be considered as an improvement over the contributions in the other two streams of thought in as much as he tried to use the engineer’s discipline to reduce personal factors, randomness and rule of thumb decision-making. Though Taylor too had his share of critics and criticism, his contribution to modern management and use of scientific methodology for decision-making and management practices are profound. 

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Administrative Theory-1

We are talking administrative theory here. Today we talk The 14 principles that capture the essence of the administrative theory.


Division of work.

Divisions of work or specialization give higher productivity because one can work at activities in which one is comparatively highly skilled. 


Authority and responsibility.

Authority is the right to give orders. An organizational member has responsibility to accomplish the organizational objectives of his position. Appropriate sanction is required to encourage good and to discourage poor performance. 



There must be respect for and obedience to the rules and objectives of the organization. Uniforms help to maintain discipline


Unity of command.

The reduce confusion and conflicts each member should receive orders from and be responsible to only one superior. 


Unity of direction.

An organization is effective when members work together toward the same objectives. Uniform objectives work with unity of direction.


Subordination of individual interest to general interest.

The interests of one employee or group of employees should not prevail over that of the organization. 


Remuneration of personnel.

Pay should be fair and should reward good performance. 



A good balance should be found between centralization and decentralization. 


Scalar chain.

There is scalar chain or hierarchy dictated by the principles of unity of command linking all members of the organization from the top to the bottom. 



There is a place for everything and everyone which ought to be so occupied. 



Justice, largely based on predetermined conventions, should prevail in the organization. 


Stability of tenure of personnel.

Time is required for an employee to get used to new work and succeed in doing it well. 



The freedom to think out and execute plans at all levels. 


Espirit de corps.

 Union is strength   


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Administrative Theory

Administrative theory is another stream of thought in the classical mould. While the concept of bureaucracy was developed by sociologist in a detached, scholarly way administrative theory has been developed since 1900 by practical managers. Though both the schools of thought developed independently, they have many things in common.


Both tend to be prescriptive about organizations and normally emphasise the need for order and orderly procedures, and point to hierarchy, specialization, structure. Order and certainty among others as essential features of organization.


Among the several proponents of the Administrative theory, the earliest and significant contribution came from Henri F Fayol, a French industrialist, in  1916. The 14 principles that capture the essence of the administrative theory could be summarized as follows:


  1. Division of work
  2. Authority and responsibility
  3. Discipline
  4. Unity of command
  5. Unity of direction
  6. Subordination of individual interest to general interest
  7. Remuneration of personnel
  8. Centralization
  9. Scalar chain
  10. Order
  11. Equity
  12. Stability of tenure of personnel
  13. Initiative
  14. Espirit de corps

We will talk on each theory in next post.

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