Henri Fayol and Higher Technical Education and Management

Copyright © BHY
MBA – IY 2513
LP 1-2: 2012
Blekinge Institute of Technology, School of Management

Henri Fayol as an engineer, graduated from a mining school (at Saint Etienne) and then as a managing director of a mining company (almost 20 years after graduation from the school) was talking most like a mentor from an age (almost 100 years ago) which there were almost no managerial formal education and he was observing that the increasing organizational complexity would require more professional attitude in the case. His generic Principles of Management and also The Five Functions of Management could be completely followed in the Technical Education ideas he represented.

He believed that the so called increasing complexity effected by large-scaled enterprises directly had been effecting diversely the similar results. The effects such as the requirement for men of wider power, increasing the number of businesses, sufficiency of sub-departments…, etc which bring up an urgent need for higher managers and eventually bold their training issue. In this trend, the “proportion of qualities and knowledge” and the related training in order to achieve this goal in different levels and all varieties of management in business/industrial activities became one of his most important points of interest; which he generalized from his mining and metallurgical field experiences.

From Mining and Metallurgical Industry to a Generic View
Fayol has categorized educational levels as higher technical, post-primary primary; it was of course under the french system of education of the time. The higher technical level referred to after high school (university, college or any higher educational school level) and post-primary education seems to be equal to the level of “gymnasiet” in Sweden or high school level in English speaking/system countries. He was trying to criticize the existing system and giving constructive practical advises.

He has questioned the approach to mathematical approach and also the length of education in the Higher Technical level in the branch of management.

Misuse of mathematics in Higher Technical Education
Firstly Fayol mentions that the entrance examination of the main source higher level school did not include no question about management, commerce, finance and related fields and not even any satisfactory level of accountancy; which he thought was essential for the people supposed to work in managerial level. The physical and moral levels also did not matter at all. At the same time, mathematics was the main subject in the examinations. It was eventually affecting the quality and knowledge level in their entire educational period. Moral features such as sense of duty, responsibility and proportion which could possibility shape value-based attitude was not concerned in the so called schools. “Entire attention is directed to technical matters”; the engineers had no clue of speaking and writing methods but they was well educated (actually in a level which was not needed) in mathematics.

Fayol believes that “for a divisional engineer ability is as important as technical ability”; and in the higher management level, commerce and finance have got the same level of importance. Fayol did not deny the the importance of technical education, but he believes that the application technical knowledge is not immediately nigher needed upon leaving college nor possible. What is emergent need is “managerial viewpoint” and related commercial/financial issues. He was strongly criticizing the civil engineering education by pointing its over-concern of technical ability and number of years of mathematic study which he calls “Misuse Mathematics”.

In Fayol’s statement, “philosophy, literature, natural history, chemistry” are also great factors of what he calls “social progress”; so, mathematics had been misused, by dominating the idea that it is the main factor for business management in case of developing and correcting judgment.

Length of Courses
Fayol, referring his lecture to the Congress of Mines and Metallurgy in 1900, complained about the unnecessarily long period of engineering education; which caused to weary engineers instead of what he calls ” healthy, adaptable, unassuming young men”. He believed that 4 years are adequate for the engineering college [which we can see, it is even shorter these days after about 100 years] and the sufficient age is 21 or 22 for entering to industry. He suggested 6 months of dedicated training in management, commerce, finance, security and accounting which were lacking.

Advice to Future Engineers
Based on his critic ideas about the existing educational system, Fayol reminds the young graduates that the value of ignored issues of “health, the art of handling men and bearing”; also mentioning this fact that _ as a result of the educational system_ the highest of their classes are not necessarily the most successful people in the industry. Mentioning his concerns about the subjects of management, commerce, finance and related matters, he is awakening them to care more about the practical attitude and to bring value-oriented issues like “thoughtfulness, logic, loyalty etc, along with their certificate to the industry.

He emphasizes again and again about managerial abilities and points the knowledge of command, plan, organize and control. He reminds that that it is the world of practice and they would be judged by what they would be doing.

Fayol draws a behavioral path for the interaction between the young engineers and workers and also their superiors and gives leadership clues. Encouragement for self-development by studying and learning from everything aiming at perfecting their professional knowledge is another part of his advices; it would be possible filing the learnt lessons methodically. Fayol suggests the notes to be modestly published [if he was living now, probably he would suggest blogging!].

At the end, Fayol adds health advices and also psychological clues and even suggests them to marry!

According to Fayol’s educational statement, his manner was including a practical ethical attitude which had significant commercial approaches in order to adopt the managerial/technical education with the needs of the growing modern industries of the time. Most of his idea has been reflected to the modern education in the field and we can see its effects today.