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The Management Theory of Henry Mintzberg

BySammi Caramela,
business.com writer
| Last Modified
Feb 27, 2018
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Henry Mintzberg recommends breaking down management roles and responsibilities and organizing the workplace to simplify complex concepts.

Henry Mintzberg is a management expert, author and academic. He's written various books on management and now holds the Cleghorn Professorship of Management Studies.

Mintzberg believes that skills are learned through experience and cannot simply be taught in the classroom. In an interview with CNN, he stated: "You can teach all sorts of things that improve the practice of management with people who are managers. What you cannot do is teach management to somebody who is not a manager … you cannot teach surgery to somebody who's not a surgeon."

Mintzberg recommends breaking down management roles and responsibilities and organizing the workplace to simplify complex concepts. This helps to organize companies into a more efficient culture, and it allows each member to develop their own skills.

Below are some basics of management that Mintzberg identified.

Organizational types

There are five popular organizational structures, according to Mintzberg.

  1. Simple structure (entrepreneurial organization). This type of organization consists of a few managers/executives and multiple subordinates.

  2. Machine bureaucracy. Workers operate as parts of a machine. Each department is responsible for its own tasks, and decision-making is centralized.

  3. Professional bureaucracy. Each professional works independently, without centralization, on tasks that match their specific skillset.

  4. Divisional (diversified) form. Diverse work is delegated among divisions. Each division focuses on its own activities and functions.

  5. Adhocracy. There is no formal structure; rather, highly qualified employees form teams to complete tasks and adjust to any industry changes.

Basic parts of an organization

Mintzberg added that there should be a maximum of these six basic parts of any organization.

  1. Strategic apex (includes senior management)
  2. Middle line (links strategic apex to operating core)
  3. Operating core (handles operational processes)
  4. Technostructure (includes analysists of various sorts)
  5. Support staff (supports and offers services to the organization)
  6. Ideology (includes company's norms and values)

Managerial roles

Though every manager is different, Mintzberg noted that everyone should practice and master each of these interpersonal, informational and decision-making roles.

Interpersonal:

  1. Figurehead. A figurehead is responsible for social, ceremonial and legal matters. They represent their company in a professional manner.

  2. Leader. All managers must be leaders, communicating with, inspiring and coaching their team. Workers should be able to look to their manager for support and guidance.

  3. Liaison. Liaisons are responsible for networking outside of their company and relaying necessary information.

    Informational:

  4. Monitor. A monitor seeks information within and outside of their company to assess their company's operations and identify issues that need to be approached or changes that need to be made.

  5. Disseminator. Disseminators should then relay valuable information internally to employees and delegate assignments accordingly.

  6. Spokesperson. Managers should also relay information externally, acting as a spokesperson for their brand.

    Decision-making:

  7. Entrepreneur. Acting as an entrepreneur, managers should inspire change and innovation. They should also create and implement new ideas. 

  8. Disturbance-handler. Any external or internal issues or roadblocks should be handled by managers.

  9. Resource-allocator. Managers must allocate and oversee various resources, from funding to equipment.

  10. Negotiator. The negotiator is responsible for participating and directing negotiations within their organization.
Sammi Caramela
Sammi Caramela
See Sammi Caramela's Profile
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business.com and Business News Daily staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. Sammi loves hearing from readers - so don't hesitate to reach out! Check out her short stories in Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror, which is sold on Amazon.
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