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Division Of Work in Management: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:05 What is Division of Work?
  • 1:05 Division of Work: A…
  • 3:04 Division of Work in…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebekiah Hill

Rebekiah has taught college accounting and has a master's in both management and business.

What is the best way to get a job done? In this lesson, we will look at Henri Fayol's division of work principle. You will see what the history and purpose of this principle was, and how it affects modern day management.

What Is Division of Work?

Can you remember the last time that you went to a restaurant for carry out? More than likely, and for pure convenience, you probably used the drive thru window. How many people did it take to complete your order from start to finish? Let's see. The first order of business was to have someone take your order. Once that was completed, your order was submitted to the cooks. The cooks made your meal and placed it on the counter. Someone working the counter collected your food and placed it in a bag to hand to you out the window. Another person handed the bag out the window. Those are the different steps that were taken to fully complete one task. It is also a perfect example of the division of work.

The division of work is the course of tasks assigned to, and completed by, a group of workers in order to increase efficiency. Division of work, which is also known as division of labor, is the breaking down of a job so as to have a number of different tasks that make up the whole. This means that for every one job, there can be any number of processes that must occur for the job to be complete.

Division of Work: A Brief History

A few centuries ago, the field of management was just coming to light. People had jobs as overseers, who were like managers, who made sure that a job was being done right but had no training in management. In the late 1800s, a French man by the name of Henri Fayol began to question the management profession. He felt that this was a misunderstood science, and that it was not clearly defined. He knew that management was an important part of the business world and that people, and not processes, were what were most important to success.

It was at this time that Fayol decided he needed to change career fields. Instead of working as an acting manager on a daily basis, he needed to shift his focus to the study of the management concept. Stepping down from a position that had spanned more than 30 years was a life change, but Fayol was devoted to further developing the entire management process. In 1917, Fayol opened the doors to a place where professors could gather and discuss their views on management. This building, known as the Centre for Administrative Studies, was the exact place that Fayol began discussing his 14 Principles of Management. These 14 principles were the guidelines that Fayol felt were needed to assist managers in effectively carrying out their positions.

The very first principle that Fayol lists in the 14 Principles is the division of work. He believed that work should be divided among groups and/or individuals in order to ensure that there was special focus on each part of a job. Each job was to be broken down into several smaller tasks, with each task having the ability to be broken down if needed. Fayol believed that by doing this, employees could be better utilized, and work would be more efficient. After all, if an employee repetitively did the same thing over and over, his or her ability to perform that job function should continually increase. According to Fayol, 'the object of division of work is to produce more and better work with the same effort.'

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