Harold Koontz

American business consultant

Harold Koontz (1909 - Febr. 11, 1984) was an American organizational theorist, Professor of Business Management at the University of California, Los Angeles and a consultant for many of America's largest business organizations. He co-authored the book Principles of Management with Cyril J. O'Donnell (1964).

Quotes edit

  • [ Managementlove can be defined as] the function of getting things done through others.
    • Harold Koontz and Cyril O’Donnell (1955), Principles of Management: An Analysis of Managerial Functions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955, p. 3; As cited in Wren & Bedeian (2009;411)
  • Organization charts are subject to important limitations. A chart shows only formal authority relationships and omits the many significant informal and informational relationships.
    • Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich (2006) Essentials Of Management. p. 198.
  • I see too many academics forgetting what I think our job is in management, and that is to organize available knowledge; develop new knowledge, of course, but organize it in such a way that it can be useful to practicing managers to underpin management. I am surprised as I watch the literature, that some people are discovering what we’ve known for years. For example, some things like this: that technology affects management organization. I found that out when I was in the airline industry a few years ago and I never thought it was anything very surprising. Another, that the actual managing depends on the situation... I thought, my gosh, there must be something new there. Only to find, after spending a lot of time reading, that there wasn’t anything, and I don’t know any practicing manager who doesn’t manage in light of the situation. I think we have to agree that management theory and science should underpin practice, otherwise why develop it?
    • Harold Koontz in: Ronald G. Greenwood. Harold Koontz: A Reminiscence Presented at the meetings of the Academy of Management, Boston, August 14, 1984; as cited in Wren & Bedeian (2009;419-420)

"The Management Theory Jungle," 1961 edit

Harold Koontz, "The Management Theory Jungle," Journal of the Academy of Management, 4 (December 1961), pp. 174-188.

  • Although students of management would readily agree that there have been problems of management since the dawn of organized life, most would also agree that systematic examination of management, with few exceptions, is the product of the present century and more especially of the past two decades.
    • p. 174
  • The Management Process School : This approach to management theory perceives management as a process of getting things done through and with people operating in organized groups. It aims to analyze the process, to establish a conceptual framework for it, to identify principles underlying it, and to build up a theory of management from them. It regards management as a universal process, regardless of the type that the environment of management differs widely between enterprises and levels. It looks upon management theory as a way of organizing experience so that practice can be improved through research, empirical testing of principles, and teaching of fundamentals involved in the management process.
    • p. 175-6
  • Empirical School ; A second approach to management I refer to as the "empirical" school. In this, I include those scholars who identify management as a study of experience, sometimes with intent to draw generalizations but usually merely as a means of teaching experience and transferring it to the practitioner or student. Typical of this school are those who see management or "policy" as the study and analysis of cases and those with such approaches as Ernest Dale's "comparative approach."
    • p. 177
  • The Human Behavior School: This approach to the analysis of management is based on the central thesis that, since managing involves getting things done with and through people, the study of management must be centered on interpersonal relations. Variously called the "human relations," "leadership," or "behavioral sciences" approach... This school concentrates on the "people" part of management and rests on the principle that, where people work together as groups in order to accomplish objectives, "people should understand people."
    • p. 178
  • The Social System School: Closely related to the human behavior school and often confused or intertwined with it is one which might be labeled the social system school. This includes those researchers who look upon management as a social system, that is, a system of cultural interrelationships. Sometimes, as in the case of March and Simon, the system is limited to formal organizations, using the term "organization" as equivalent to enterprise, rather than the authority-activity concept used most often in management. In other cases, the approach is not to distinguish the formal organization, but rather to encompass any kind of system of human relationships.
    • p. 179
  • The Decision Theory School : Another approach to management theory, undertaken by a growing and scholarly group, might be referred to as the decision theory school. This group concentrates on rational approach to decision-the selection from among possible alternatives of a course of action or of an idea. The approach of this school may be to deal with the decision itself, or to the persons or organizational group making the decision, or to an analysis of the decision process. Some limit themselves fairly much to the economic rationale of the decision, while others regard anything which happens in an enterprise the subject of their analysis, and still others expand decision theory to cover the psychological and sociological aspect and environment of decisions and decision-makers.
    • p. 180
  • The Mathematical School ; Although mathematical methods can be used by any school of management theory, and have been, I have chosen to group under a school those theorists who see management as a system of mathematical models and processes. Perhaps the most widely known group I arbitrarily so lump are the operations researchers or operations analysts, who have sometimes anointed themselves with the rather pretentious name of "management scientists." The abiding belief of this group is that, if management, or organization, or planning, or decision making is a logical process, it can be expressed in terms of mathematical symbols and relationships. The central approach of this school is the model, for it is through these devices that the problem is expressed in its basic relationships and in terms of selected goals or objectives.
    • p. 181

Principles of management, 1968 edit

Harold Koontz and Cyril O'Donnell. Principles of management; An analysis of managerial functions. 1968; 1972.

  • Management is defined here as the accomplishment of desired objectives by establishing an environment favorable to performance by people operating in organized groups. Each of the managerial functions (planning, organizing, staffing, , directing, and controlling) is analyzed and described in a systematic way. As this is done, both the distilled experience of practicing managers and the findings of scholars are presented. This is approached in such a way that the reader may grasp the relationships between each of the functions, obtain a clear view of the major principles underlying them.
    • p. 1 (1968 edition)
  • This book undertakes the study of management by utilizing analysis of the basic managerial functions as a framework for organizing knowledge and techniques in the field. Managing is defined here as the creation and maintenance of an internal environment in an enterprise where individuals, working together in groups, can perform efficiently and effectively towards the attainment of group goals. Managing could, then, be called "performance environment design." Essentially, managing is the art of doing, and management is the body of organized knowledge which underlies the art.
Each of the managerial functions is analyzed and described in a systematic way. As this is done, both the distilled experience of practicing managers and the findings of scholars are presented., This is approached in such a way that the reader may grasp the relationships between each of the functions, obtain a clear view of the major principles underlying them, and be given the means of organizing existing knowledge in the field.
Part 1 is an introduction to the basis of management through a study of the nature and operation of management principles (Chapter 1), a description of the various schools and approaches of management theory (Chapter 2), the functions of the manager (Chapter 3), an analytical inquiry into the total environment in which a manager must work (Chapter 4), and an introduction to comparative management in which approaches are presented for separating external environmental forces and nonmanagerial enterprise functions from purely managerial knowledge (Chapter 5)...
  • p. 1 (1972 edition)
  • Every organization structure, even a poor one, can be charted, for a chart merely indicates how departments are tied together along the principal lines of authority. It is therefore somewhat surprising to find top managers occasionally taking pride in the fact that they do not have an organization chart or, if they do have one, feeling that the chart should be kept a secret.
    • p. 379
  • A prominent manufacturer once said that although he could see some use for an organization chart for his factory, he had refused to chart the organization above the level of factory superintendent. His argument was that charts tend to make people overly conscious of being superiors or inferiors, tend to destroy team feeling, and give persons occupying a box on the chart too great a feeling of "ownership"?Another top executive once said that if an organization is left uncharted, it can be changed more easily and that the absence of a chart also encourages a competitive drive for higher executive positions on the part of the uncharted middle-management group.
These reasons for not charting organization structures are clearly unsound. Subordinate - superior relationships exist not because of charting but because of essential reporting relationships. As for a chart's creating a too comfortable feeling and causing a lack of drive on the part of those who have "arrived", these are matters of top leadership - of reorganizing whenever the enterprise environment demands, of developing a tradition of change, and of making subordinate managers continue to meet adequate and well-understood standards of performance.

"The Management Theory Jungle Revisited," 1980 edit

Harold Koontz, "The Management Theory Jungle Revisited," Academy of Management Review 5 (April 1980), pp. 175–187

  • The various schools of or approaches to management theory that I identified nearly two decades ago, and called "the management theory jungle," are reconsidered. What is found now are eleven distinct approaches, compared to the original six, implying that the "jungle" may be getting more dense and impenetrable. However, certain developments are occurring which indicate that we may be moving more than people think toward a unified and practical theory of management.
    • p. 175 abstract
  • The Current Approaches to Management Theory and Science
I hope the reader will realize that, in outlining the eleven approaches, I must necessarily be terse.
  • The empirical or case approach : The members of this school study management by analyzing experience, usually through cases...
  • The interpersonal behavior approach: This approach is apparently based on the thesis that managing involves getting things done through people, and that therefore the study of management should be centered on interpersonal relations...
  • The group behavior approach : This approach is ... primarily with behavior of people in groups rather than with interpersonal behavior...
  • The cooperative social system approach : A modification of the interpersonal and group behavior approaches has been the focus of some behavioral scientists on the study of human relationships as cooperative social systems...
  • The sociotechnical systems approach : One of the newer schools of management identifies itself as the sociotechnical systems approach...
  • The decision theory approach : This approach to management theory and science has apparently been based on the belief that, because it is a major task of managers to make decisions, we should concentrate on decision making...
  • The systems approach ; ... the systems approach to the study and analysis of management thought...
  • The mathematical or "management science" approach : There are some theorists who see managing as primarily an exercise in mathematical processes, concepts, symbols, and models...
  • The contingency or situational approach : ... the contingency approach to management.
  • The managerial roles approach :... popularized by Henry Mintzberg [1973, 1975]...
  • The operational approach : The operational approach to management theory and science, a term borrowed from the work of P. W. Bridgman [1938, pp. 2-32], attempts to draw together the pertinent knowledge of management by relating it to the functions of managers...
The nature of the operational approach can perhaps best be appreciated by reference to Figure 1. As this diagram shows, the operational management school of thought includes a central core of science and theory unique to management plus knowledge eclectically drawn from various other schools and approaches...
  • p. 177-182
  • The management theory jungle is still with us... Perhaps the most effective way [out of the jungle] would be for leading managers to take a more active role in narrowing the widening gap... between professional practice and our college and university business [schools].

Quotes about Harold Koontz edit

  • Although the Gordon and Howell report noted the diversity of approaches to the study of management, it was Harold Koontz who delineated the differences and applied the catchy label ‘‘management theory jungle.’’

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