Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management

20 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2005

See all articles by Lee D. Parker

Lee D. Parker

RMIT University

Philip A. Ritson

University of Adelaide - School of Commerce


This study argues that in classifying Fayol as a founding father of the Classical Management School, we have to some extent misrepresented this still important management theorist. The received Fayol portrayed in contemporary texts invariably emerges as a caricature of a much more insightful, complex, visionary and rounded management thinker. This study re-examines Fayol's personal and career history, as well as the arguments presented in his original work, General and Industrial Management. It finds that he was a much more complex and multidimensional figure than his conventional stereotype today, and that his management theories embraced a wider spectrum of approaches and concepts than traditionally identified with the classical management school of thought. In marked contrast to his traditional portrayal, this study uncovers traces of ideas and concepts that anticipated aspects of the human relations movement, systems-based contingency theory, the movement towards greater employee involvement in decision-making and elements of knowledge management.

Suggested Citation

Parker, Lee D. and Ritson, Philip A., Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management. British Journal of Management, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 175-194, September 2005, Available at SSRN:

Lee D. Parker (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

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Philip A. Ritson

University of Adelaide - School of Commerce ( email )

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+61 8 830 34368 (Fax)

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