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The Foundations of Henri Fayol's Administrative

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Essay title: The Foundations of Henri Fayol's Administrative

The foundations of Henri Fayol’s administrative


Daniel A. Wren

David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus and Curator, Harry W. Bass Business History

Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA

Arthur G. Bedeian

Boyd Professor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

John D. Breeze

Independent Scholar and Business Owner/Manager, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

As management historians, we are seldom

able to trace the formative thinking of our

field’s major contributors, especially its

founders. McMahon and Carr (1999, p. 228)

noted the ''increasing distance between

students and scholars of today and the early

writers in the development of management

thought . . . The current generation of

students are reading less of the actual

writings of the early scholars and more what

those writing current texts are attributing to

[them].’’ At best, by examining contemporary

accounts, or in the limited instances where

autobiographies exist, we can attempt to

discern the incipient antecedents and

inchoate reasoning giving rise to the later

development of more polished thoughts

(Bedeian, 1992; Carson and Carson, 1998). In

this way, we may strive to gain a more

complete understanding of our own

intellectual heritage as it has been shaped by

the experiences, reflections, and study of

those who have gone before us, as well as

continue to learn from the past as it informs

the present (Bedeian, 1998).

There are precedents that indicate how the

discovery, translation, and/or reprinting of

early writings have informed the present. We

would still be in the dark about what really

happened at the Hawthorne Plant of Western

Electric without the seminal works of Wrege

(1961) and Greenwood et al. (1983). Max

Weber’s (1922) turgid Wirtschaft und

Gesellschaft was published posthumously and

did not reach an English-reading audience

until Gerth and Wright Mills’ translation of

Weber’s theory of bureaucracy (Weber, 1946)

and later, Henderson

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