This essay initially will define administrative management and how it differs and similar from its classical view, that is, the administrative management theory of Henri Fayol. Its purpose is to demonstrate the importance of administrative management in any organisation by managing its information, acknowledging its internal customers, which are the employees, and hence, enhancing efficiency and productivity. This essay also illustrates the role and level of administrative management coupled with an investigation on how it varies according to the size and type of organisation. Within this context, arguments are presented based on credible sources to support the evaluation as to confirm its validity.
This will be followed by a thorough analysis on the four key aspects of administrative management; information, communication, technology and people management. This essay is going to discuss the importance of each key aspect and eventually decides and suggests which aspects should be prioritised by an organisation. It is however, can still be argued to some extent to which how it affects on administrative management as the conditions of organisations are nowadays strongly influenced by the ever-changing and dynamic environment.
Administrative management is ‘the management of information, the systems that house information and the technology and people that maximise productivity' (Odgers 2005, p. 7). In other words, administrative management is now focusing more on information and technology as compared to its adaptation in the past. Information and technology are priceless in today's rapid environment where it can spur the organisation to improve, grow and excel. Therefore, it is vital to manage them and its people efficiently in order to achieve greater organisational performance.
Conversely, the classical view on Henri Fayol's administrative theory, he set out to improve organisational performance from the top level down as he focused on the principles used by managers to co-ordinate internal organisation activities (Wren 2003, cited in Bartol et al. 2009, p. 18). It was well practised in the industrial era but somehow it has now been tailored to cope with the dynamic environment of knowledge-based economy. Nevertheless, the main idea of administrative management has always been the same, which is to manage all internal activities hand-in-hand for favourable outcomes. In other words, according to McLean (2005/2006, p. 16), ‘administration is the essential glue that holds the organisation together'.
Administrative manager is the one who held the greatest responsibility in managing and synchronising the organisational internal activities in idea to achieve greater performance and hence, to achieve the organisation's objectives. This is important in administrative management because a weakness in a subsystem can have an effect on another. In general, there are three categories of management's role, which are interpersonal, informational and decisional. Basically, informational refers to managing by information, interpersonal refers to managing through people and finally, decisional refers to managing through actions (Daft & Samson 2009). To support these roles, as stated by McLean (2005/2006, p. 16), ‘administrative managers must also possess the requisite skills to facilitate strategic partnering such as being a transformational leader and an agent for change'.
Meanwhile, the level of management usually comprises of three levels namely top, middle and supervisory or operating levels. This represents the traditional perspectives on managing organisation especially in large firms but some of them have now restructured and reshaped their organisation hierarchy due to the rapid changes in the environment such as advance information technology equipments and devices.
However, these roles and levels of management are varying with respect to the size of organisation. In other words, the roles and levels of management in large organisations such as Woolworths and Coles Supermarkets which have thousands of employees are different ,or at least in term of priority, from the roles and levels of management in small firms, as for example, a small family-owned groceries shop. In general, managers in large firms definitely have more administrative roles (informational, decisional and interpersonal) as they have more interactions with people who report to them as well as greater responsibilities on managing enormous amount of information. With massive information, managers are now intensely challenged with their decision making quality.
In contrast, in small firms, the management roles are lesser than in large firms. As for example, in term of informational, spokesperson and disseminator roles are not really needed in small firms as it only focuses more on monitoring. Whereas, in term of interpersonal, the roles as a figurehead and liaison are less in importance but the leadership role might be very useful and finally, in term of decisional, the basic manager's role as a disturbance handler is not really needed in small firms but the roles as an entrepreneur and negotiator might benefit the firm in some cases. In addition, in small organisation, the management level usually has less than three levels. The middle management level is the one that is usually eliminated due to the small scale nature of the organisation. Therefore, in a small organisation, an administrative manager may deal with all support services.
However, it does not necessarily mean that the management's roles are different because of the size of the organisations. This is because many large firms have now used advance and sophisticated technology to lessen the complexity of data and information processing as well as to assist their decision making. Therefore, with the assistance of databases and nanotechnology devices it can reduce the roles of informational, interpersonal and decisional by managers. Large firms are now moving towards horizontal or flattening of the organisational pyramid and in some cases adapt the inverted pyramid which emphasise on bottom up flow of information. With these trends, according to a survey conducted by IAAP, 73 percent out of 3,100 admin professionals have stated an increase in responsibility at work. This is due to the organisations' practise of empowerment, the creation of a learning organisation and focusing on innovation as their business strategy. In this case, the large firms are now more or less operating like small firms do.
Moreover, the administrative management role and level are also varying with the type of organisations. There is numerous numbers of organisations operating in many industries and therefore, each organisation may be different in term of its adaptation in managing its internal activities. For examples, health firms are different from financial institutions, and fast-food firms are different from online businesses. Each firm has different strategies in order to survive and succeed in their respective industries and therefore, it influences the way they manage their activities to pursue their targets. For a marketing firm, managers' informational and decisional roles are considered as critical factors to conduct and achieve successful market research. Meanwhile, for a mass production firm, managers' interpersonal role is vital to manage, motivate and lead the manpower.
In addition, flat or horizontal structure can be seen in most online businesses and therefore, it comprises of fewer level of management as none or only a few middle administrative managers are needed to oversee all the support services. On the other hand, different types of organisations do not necessarily mean they have different administrative management roles. For example, Universal Store is a local clothing firm that sells via its store and the Internet and similarly, RebelSport sells sports accessories and equipments, also sells its products via the Internet. Therefore, both organisations may have similar management roles that focus on their manpower to promote their products, both in store and on their websites, and they also focus on information in regards to the latest fashion and design as well as their decisional roles in managing its stock and manpower working schedules.
The four key aspects of administrative management which are information, communication, technology, and people management are somehow interrelated with one another. However, one can argue that one aspect is more important than the others and so this essay is going to evaluate each key aspect in order to come up with an answer whether there is an aspect that is more important than the rest or equally important.
Basically, ‘information is the data that has been converted into a meaningful and useful context for the receiver' (Daft & Samson 2009, p. 747). In the current knowledge based economy, organisations are now focusing more on information and emphasising on being a learning organisation which is all about the flow of information within and across the organisation. It is believed that information increases knowledge, reduces uncertainty and adds value when used. Therefore, information is really important in administrative management because it could lead to innovations, empowerment and improvement in decision making quality. As explained by Wright and Evans (2009, p. 14), ‘for an administrative manager, information is an essential part of the decision making process'.
It is essential for all level of administrative managers to ensure an efficient flow of information which could permits all business functions to achieve its overall objectives efficiently. For examples, ‘top level managers need information for long-term strategic planning, whereas the middle and supervisory level managers need information for the implementations of these plans their daily operations' (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenwald 2009, p. 15). Information also exerts power to managers to some extent, and it can be positive but it could also harm the organisation therefore, it is important to control the access to information to avoid the problems of islands of information, ‘where one group or another had access to information and hoarded that information for power' (Phillip 2006). ‘Information power is power stemming from formal control over the information people need to do their work' (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006, p. 209).
On the other hand, communication also plays an important role in administrative management. It starts when making strategic decisions where it must be communicated by managers in order to be successfully implemented. In addition, according to Johnson, Scholes and Whittington (2008, p. 15) ‘employee communications are typically vital to ensure that the strategy is carried out in the first place'. The transition from the industrial era to the knowledge and information era, communication is now decentralised throughout the organisation. It just shows how much communication is worth by organisations as it can value adds onto the bottom line of the organisation's production and services. In contrast, during the industrial era, it focused more on top-to-bottom command and control, where it restricted the flow of communication even for the middle and lower level managers. In this case, as claimed by Thomas (2007, pp. 289-290), ‘the traditional communication up and down the chain of command is insufficient in today's economy'.
In a ritual definition, ‘communication is linked to terms such as sharing, participation, fellowship, and the possession of a common faith' (McQuails 2003, p. 39). Therefore, communication can also act as an administrative management tool in shaping the organisational culture. Managers can increase their focus on open communication to create a learning culture, empower employees and at the same time to build trust as well as increasing collaboration among employees. Effective communication can also influence, motivate and unite employees, as for example, communicate a vision for the future. As stated by Samson and Daft (2009, p. 648), ‘people need to feel that they have something to work for and look forward to'.
Another key aspect of administrative management is technology. Technology can be simply defined as ‘the tools, devices, and knowledge that help transform inputs into outputs' (Morris, Kuratko & Covin 2008, p. 203). It is vital for administrative managers in today's turbulent environment regardless the size of their organisations as it helps their basic management functions of planning, organising and control. Technology promotes these functions by providing speed and accuracy which results in efficiency and productivity throughout the organisation. As stated by Morris, Kuratko and Covin (2008, p. 204), ‘technologies are vehicle not only for reducing costs but also for dramatically enhancing internal performance'.
However, technology changes and innovations are now moving in a speed that no one could ever have imagined. Technology improvements are so massive nowadays and so it is a challenge for administrative managers to keep track on new and up-to-date technology in order to be able to adapt quickly to change and remain competitive. According to a survey conducted by IAAP, 69 percent of 3,100 administrative professions have stated the main issue affecting the profession is keeping up with changing technology. Therefore, it is vital to constantly keep up with the change because if the managers or even the organisations are left behind, they will struggle and find it difficult to manage their internal activities and hence, jeopardise its overall performance. ‘Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller...you're part of the road' (Brandon 2006, cited in McLean 2006, p. 16).
Finally, it is important in administrative management to manage, acknowledge and value people. The main challenge of an administrative manager is to co-ordinate and harmonise people from various organisation's systems so that it sync and creates synergy. In fact, one of the keys to sustainable competitive advantage is the effective management of people. People are considered among the greatest assets in any organisation as many organisations rely on employees' knowledge more than their physical bodies. As claimed by Samson and Daft (2009, p. 76), ‘in companies where power of an idea determines success, managers' primary goal is to tap into the creativity and knowledge of every employee'.
Administrative manager should also acknowledge their colleagues as their internal customers and the managers themselves as suppliers and vice versa thus, forming an internal ‘Quality Chain' (Moorcroft 2010, p. 4). In this case, it does not only focus on the importance of managing people but at the same time, it values the relationship between them which eventually can create a strong bond and trust. Empowerment is also a popular practise applied by managers in delegating of power and authority as well as to motivate them.
After analysing each of the four aspects of administrative management, it can be proclaimed that all of them are really important and can be considered as symbiotic where one aspect alone could not stand on its own and will not create greater performance without the assistance of the other aspects. One may argue that technology is the dynamic force that drives the other three aspects. However, if technology is not supported by effective management of people, information and communication, it could still create a chaos across the organisation.
For instance, the aspects of information, communication and technology have now been integrated by many to become Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as their main tool of administration to be used in the organisation. Significantly, it also helps administrative managers to manage their people by implementing a learning culture where they can discover, explore, exchange, study, and communicate easily via ICT. The Intranet is an example of ICT, which is now widely used by organisations to speed up communication and information sharing all over their organisations. On the other hand, only with effective management of people, the organisations can keep track on new technology which can be used to create a new or to improve the existing ICT applications.
This essay has illustrated the importance of administration management in today's dynamic environment. It is slightly different from the classical view of Henri Fayol's administrative theory, where currently it focuses more on the management of information through people. However, the main idea is still the same which is to manage its internal organisational activities effectively. The administrative management's roles of informational, interpersonal and decisional were thoroughly explained where it involves managing by information, managing through people and actions respectively. Meanwhile, the levels of administrative management consist of the top, middle and supervisory or operating levels. This essay has therefore clarified that those roles and levels do not necessarily change in accordance to the size and type of organisations. For instance, in large firms, usually there are three levels of management but it could be lesser in small firms. However, many large firms have now eliminated some levels of management to create more flat organisation structure and therefore, it operates more or less like a small firm with fewer management levels.
Finally, an analysis was made on the importance of the four key aspects of administrative management which are the information, communication, and technology as well as people management. Each of the key aspects plays an important role in administrative management and the best way to achieve greater overall organisational performance is to manage and prioritise all of them hand-in-hand as they are considered as symbiotic.
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