July 28th, 2012 Lyndall Urwick
Lyndall Fownes Urwick (March 3, 1891 – December 5, 1983) was an influential business consultant and thinker in the United Kingdom. He is recognized for integrating the ideas of earlier theorists like Henri Fayol into a comprehensive theory of administration. He wrote a book called "The Elements of Business Administration", published in 1943. With Luther Gulick, he founded the academic journal Administrative Science Quarterly.
Lyndall Fownes Urwick's Life
Lyndall Urwick was born in Worcestershire, the son of a partner in Fownes Brothers, a long-established glove-making firm. He was educated at Repton School and New College, Oxford, where he read History. He saw active service in the trenches during the First World War, rising to the rank of Major, and being awarded the Military Cross. Though he did not himself attend the military Staff College at Camberley, his respect for military training would affect his outlook on management in later life.
After the war, he joined his father's business of Fownes Brothers. He was then recruited by Seebohm Rowntree, head of the York chocolate company and progressive philanthropist. Urwick's role involved assisting the modernisation of the company, bringing to bear his own thinking which had two main influences. One was the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor with its concept of scientific management, and the other, counterbalancing it in its emphasis on the humanity of management was Mary Parker Follett, for whom he had great admiration. Urwick's own prolific writings on management truly began in this period.
His growing reputation as a British thinker on management and administration won him appointment in 1928 as Director of the International Management Institute in Geneva. The Institute may have proven short-lived, closing in 1933, but it provided Urwick the opportunity not only to lecture widely but to produce his books The Meaning of Rationalisation and The Management of Tomorrow. It was also the time that he became particularly keen to promote the writings of Henri Fayol to an English audience.
When Urwick returned to Britain, he established a management consultancy, Urwick Orr and Partners which came to be one of the leading companies of its type in the 1940s and 1950s. At the same time, his intellectual interests continued. An increasing concern of his was the lack of management education in Britain. He was involved in the very earliest discussions for what would become, in 1948, the Administrative Staff College. His own view of the education required did not accord with the College as it was finally established, which concentrated on a three-month course for established executives. He would have preferred something much closer to the model of the American business school, involving a longer course and aimed at pre-experience students. It was a continuing frustration for Urwick that England's two ancient universities failed to promote management education.
In later years, Lyndall Urwick retired to Australia, where he died in 1983. His papers were donated to the Administrative Staff College, by then re-named Henley Management College.