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Global Business Capabilities

What does it take to succeed as an executive in a global business world characterised by hyper-competition, accelerating speed, and ever ...

By Nigel Andrews 01 December 2004

What does it take to succeed as an executive in a global business world characterised by hyper-competition, accelerating speed, and ever more demanding customers and shareholders? 
Global Business Capabilities

London Business School research suggests the answer lies in global business capabilities. Nigel Andrews provides the context, examines the findings, and their implications for executives, organisations and all involved in educating executives.


The skills required of business executives have been the subject of repeated analysis and continuing debate. In the early twentieth century Henri Fayol identified five elements (and 15 principles) of administrative management: planning, organising, co-ordinating, commanding, and controlling. In 1937, Luther Gulick modified the list to include staffing, reporting, and budgeting. And, in a 1930s study of the state, the Roman Catholic Church, the military, and industry, James Mooney and Alan Reiley advocated four main principles:


  1. the co-ordination principle, which directed attention to the unity of action toward a common purpose
  2. the scalar principle, which defined the hierarchical flow of authority and the definite assignment of duties to subunits of an organisation
  3. the functional principle, which stressed the need for specialisation of duties
  4. the staff principle, which answered the need for advice and ideas by line executives.


As business management evolved into a professional discipline, greater emphasis was placed on the human side of the equation and on leading rather than commanding. For example, the American political scientist Mary Parker Follett emphasised the need for managers to learn from their own experience by systematically observing, recording, and relating to the overall situation. She regarded managers as responsible for integrating the contributions of specialisms, such as marketing, production, cost accountancy, and industrial relations, so that they contributed effectively for the benefit of all.


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