Henri Fayol’s motivations to develop a management science

Decazeville mines

Cameron Guthrie recently co-published an article in the Journal of Management History on Henri Fayol’s motivations as an accomplished business manager to publish his management theory at the age of 75. The research question is original : Scholars rarely ask why individuals decide to build and organize knowledge.

The authors retraced Henri Fayol’s private life using primary sources from various French public archives including Civil Registry records, military and diplomatic archives, schooling records, publications from learned associations and inheritance declarations. They found that Henri Fayol’s motivation to found a science of management was not financial but instead most probably driven by his own personal history and in particular the obstacles his father encountered during his career.

This study is relevant for managers today as they too can bring original contributions to management thought. Financial motivations are insufficient. Deeper motivations are needed, that are anchored in their own personal history to drive the considerable intellectual investment that is necessary for them to be
successful contributors.

Peaucelle, J-L. et Guthrie, C. (2012), “The private life of Henri Fayol and his motivation to build a management science ”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 18 Iss: 4.

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