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Henry Mintzberg's theories on management


Henry Mintzberg made Significant Contributions to the ideas about Organizational Structure and Managerial Roles.

Describe and Discuss his Contribution in both of these areas and state why they are Important.

Henry Mintzberg is a prominent management thinker who has constantly advocated the process of real-world training provided to the managers through real management experience. He has written many books regarding business management issues that contribute to the business strategy. Henry Mintzberg theories provided that managers are not robotic paragons of efficiency that usually peoples considered them to be; he concentrated on various management topic in his books to gain deep understanding regarding business structure and role of managers. Mintzberg research and ideas have significant contribution in assessing managerial responsibilities and organisational structure. Mintzberg has written 15 books, and he is best known for his work on organisational practices such as recognising five types of organisations, simple structure, professional and machine bureaucracy, division procedure, and adhocracy. This report will focus on analysing the significance of the ideas and theories contributed by Henry Mintzberg regarding managerial roles and organisational structure. Further, the report will evaluate the importance of contributions made by Henry Mintzberg in studies regarding management and business

Henry Mintzberg was born on 2nd September 1939 in Montreal, Canada; currently, he has been a professor for 40 years at McGill University which is situated in Montreal. Mintzberg studied mechanical engineering and collected an undergraduate degree from the Faculty of Engineering of McGill University. Mintzberg went to MIT Sloan School of Management for completing his master’s degree and Ph.D. in management in 1965 and 1968 respectively. Currently, he teaches management studies to students at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University (Matheson, 2009). Mintzberg frequently writes on topics relating to business and management strategy; he has written 15 books and more than 150 articles. Mintzberg stated his views on what is wrong with modern management education in his book called ‘Managers Not MBSs’ in 2004.

Mintzberg provided that acclaimed management schools like the University of California or Harvard Business School are focused on statistics, and they teach management like science using numbers and diagrams. Mintzberg argued that postgraduate programs of management should be based on practical knowledge with real-world experiences of practicing managers, rather than depending on books and personal insights and experiences of students (Mintzberg, 2012). Mintzberg has highlighted his views on traditional MBA programs in his other work as well such as Managing (2004), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning (1994) and The Nature of Managerial Work (1973). According to Mintzberg, leadership is like swimming; a student cannot learn about it by reading books.

Henry Mintzberg's Contributions to Organizational Structure

The articles and books written by Mintzberg have a significant contribution to managerial roles and organisational structure. Following are few examples of the contribution made by Mintzberg.

Mintzberg provided five basic organisational structures that applied over every corporation; the structures are based on different characteristics, method of performance, and environmental conditions of a corporation (Lunenburg, 2012). Following are five organisational structure provided by Mintzberg:


The entrepreneurial is a loose organisational structure that is led by creative or entrepreneurial minded leaders; the start-up corporations are a prime example of entrepreneurial structure. The owner tightly controls this structure; it consists of one or few top managers who lead entire operations (Tengblad, 2006).


Mintzberg considered it as a bureaucratic organisation that works like a machine; it includes large corporations and government agencies with rigid and formalized procedures and routines. A tight vertical structure is situated in a machine organisation that allows specialisation in operations, but it limits new perspectives and creative ideas.


Mintzberg provided that professional organisations have a similar level of bureaucratic environment like Machine; the difference between them is competent and highly professional workers that are the center of the company who drive its economic performance (Shafritz, Ott and Jang, 2015).


The division structure is common in corporations with multiple products lines and business units; in many cases, the companies divide their product and business divisions to improve efficiency in each division.


The structures mentioned above are suitable for traditional organisations, but in new enterprises, innovate structure allows for cutting-edge leadership style. This structure decentralised the decision-making procedure which increases efficiency in business judgements and increases the risk of conflict and uncertainty (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel, 2013).

Mintzberg has been a critic of traditional management studies, and he presented his views in many of his readings such as Managing (2004), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning (1994), Managers not MBAs (2004) and The Nature of Managerial Work (1973). Mintzberg provided ten different roles of successful managers, and he divided them into three categories: interpersonal, informational and decisional roles. Following are the ten roles of successful managers as per Mintzberg:

Figure 1: Managerial Role

(Source: Medium, 2016)

Interpersonal Roles

  1. Figurehead: these leaders fulfill ceremonial duties, such as attending employee’s wedding, going on lunch with an important client and greeting visiting dignitaries (Mintzberg, 2009).
  2. Leader: performing the role of leaders such as motivating and encouraging subordinates to improve their productivity.
  3. Liaison: communicating and interacting with people outside the vertical chain of command that include entities such as government, suppliers, and other corporations.

Informational Roles

  1. Monitor: analyse and assess organisational environment to collect new information.
  2. Disseminator: communicating privileged and significant information straight to subordinates.
  3. Spokesperson: interacting and sharing information with individuals outside the organisation, for example, suggesting product modifications (Mintzberg, 2013).

Decisional Roles

  1. Entrepreneur: improving the efficiency of a division by initiating new projects after analysing
  2. Disturbance Handler: responding involuntarily and quickly to the pressure that is significantly serious. For example, workers strike, default by the supplier on a contract and bankruptcy of a major
  3. Resource Allocator: take difficult decisions to correctly distribute organisatioanl resources and decide on who gets what.
  4. Negotiator: negotiate with inside and outside entities to ensure accomplishment of the organisational mission, vision, and objectives.

The theories and ideas provided by Mintzberg have a significant impact in the recent organisational environment. Modern corporations apply the theory of Mintzberg for analysing their organisational structure; the management can formulate specific policies for company’s growth and sustainable development after evaluating its organisational structure. Mintzberg provided that there is no “right” organisational structure instead, management should analyse its organisational environment and variety of corporate attributes to adopt suitable organisational structure (Mintzberg, 2006). The evaluation of organisational structure is important because management can evaluate such information to address organisational challenges. For example, a corporation with machine structure can adopt innovative structure to promote and support new development ideas. The evaluation of organisational structure provide critical information such as how distinct activities are performed and coordination between different divisions; this information can help management understand the problem faced by a particular division and come up with an appropriate solution to address such issue.

Analyzing Organizational Structure

Mintzberg stated that leadership is like swimming, students are required to physical experience it rather than read books about it. Mintzberg stated that managers did not sit and formulate future policies, instead, they engage in everyday issues and spend a short period of time in each given task (Vecchio, 2007). The traditional approach considered leaders as extraordinary individuals who motivate and inspire their subordinates; Mintzberg provided a realistic approach by stating the leadership is a practice like medicine or advocacy which requires hands-on involvement to accomplish tasks. Modern organisations are significantly influenced by the theory of Mintzberg because it provides a realistic approach towards leaders. Most of the modern entrepreneurs implement the role of successful managers provided by Mintzberg into their leadership style to effectively manage their business (Gentry, Harris, Baker and Brittain Leslie, 2008).

Mintzberg provided an example of Enron’s Jeffery Skilling and Ford’s Robert McNamara to support his views; while studying at Harvard Business School, both were top in their class, but still, they were poor leaders (Nothhaft, 2010). According to Mintzberg, leadership is a job of processing organisational information, by talking and listing to different entities. Many modern successful leaders have shown the qualities of Mintzberg leadership styles, and they have used such roles to expand their corporations’ efficiency such as Richard Branson, Brad Smith, and Jeff Bezos. In modern companies, it is important to evaluate the managerial role and organisational structure because it assists in finding issues and formulate policies to address such problems (Mintzberg, 2009). Therefore, the theories provided by Mintzberg are significantly important in many areas of a corporation.


From the above observations, it can be concluded that the theories and ideas provided by Henry Mintzberg have assisted many modern leaders and organisations to improve their efficiency and achieve estimated goals. Mintzberg has divided the organisational structure into five parts based on their characteristics; modern organisations can evaluate their organisational structure to examine the challenges faced by them and formulate appropriate policies to address such issues. Mintzberg criticised the traditional method of management education is his books and stated they management is a practice that can only be learned by real-life experiences. He provided ten roles of effective leaders that are necessary to be fulfilled by a leader to operate its organisation effectively. Many modern leaders implement these roles into their leadership style to improve its efficiency. The contributions of Mintzberg are considered important in modern era because effective leadership style and efficient organisational structure lead to corporation’s growth and sustainable development.


Gentry, W.A., Harris, L.S., Baker, B.A. and Brittain Leslie, J., 2008. Managerial skills: What has changed since the late 1980s. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 29(2), pp.167-181.

Lunenburg, F.C., 2012. Organizational structure: Mintzberg’s framework. International journal of scholarly, academic, intellectual diversity, 14(1), pp.1-8.

Matheson, C., 2009. Understanding the policy process: The work of Henry Mintzberg. Public Administration Review, 69(6), pp.1148-1161.

Medium., 2016. Mintzberg Model: 10 Different Roles of a Successful Manager. [Online] Medium. Available at: [Accessed on 23/11/2017]

Mintzberg, H., 2006. Developing leaders? Developing countries?. Development in Practice, 16(1), pp.4-14.

Mintzberg, H., 2009. The best Leadership is good Management. BusinessWeek: Online Magazine.

Mintzberg, H., 2009. Managing. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Mintzberg, H., 2012. Managing the myths of health care. World Hospitals and Health Services, 48(3), pp.4-7.

Mintzberg, H., 2013. Simply managing: What managers do—and can do better. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B. and Lampel, J.B., 2013. Management? It's not what you think!. Pearson UK.

Nothhaft, H., 2010. Communication management as a second-order management function: Roles and functions of the communication executive–results from a shadowing study. Journal of Communication Management, 14(2), pp.127-140.

Shafritz, J.M., Ott, J.S. and Jang, Y.S., 2015. Classics of organization theory. Cengage Learning.

Tengblad, S., 2006. Is there a ‘new managerial work’? A comparison with Henry Mintzberg's classic study 30 years later. Journal of management studies, 43(7), pp.1437-1461.

Vecchio, R.P. ed., 2007. Leadership: Understanding the dynamics of power and influence in organizations. University of Notre Dame Pess.

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