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The Concept of Unity of Command, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

It was Henri Fayol (1841-1925) that best exemplified the concept of ‘unity of command’ within the classical organizational theory.  Fayol stated that with regard to actions or instructions at work this should only come from one superior or boss. This is the rule of unity of command. He went on to say that violation of this law can result in the undermining of authority and lack of discipline. Since this time more modern conventions no longer agree with Fayol’s theory. Fayol though that duel commands were a great failing of management and this is what resulted in conflict situations between workers and management. (Fayol, H. 2012).

The Military are an example that still believe in the concept of Unity of Command.  An order is passed down through the chain of command and each link has only one superior in terms of carrying out and executing the order.  Organizations in the business world have needed to become more flexible resulting in different leadership styles where many are more collaborative and involve both teamwork and group dynamics in the overall decision making process.  Inclusion of input in the chain of command or decision making process has resulted in more informed and enriched decisions and subsequently less conflict at work.

Within the modern context the ‘unity of command’ theory was seen to stifle creativity and freedom of individual expression.  It created a Master and Slave environment that was not considered conducive to modern business practice.  Communications needed to be more flexible and equally support informed decision making processes.  Rather than have employees act like drones it was more preferable to have ‘thinking individuals’ where responsibility could be delegated but accountability retained with Management or the originators of a specific command or order.  This is less appropriate to certain applications like the Military or areas where rigid command and control is expected.

References

Fayol, H. (2012, 6 27). Classical organization theory modified. Retrieved from HRM Guide: http://www.hrmguide.co.uk/history/classical_organization_theory_modified.htm

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