The origin of administration is related to the origin of humankind itself. Since human beings have always had the need to think in order to be able to organize, make decisions and execute their plans with the purpose of satisfying their needs.
It can be stated that, since the beginning, human beings have had to make decisions in order to organize themselves, gather food and build their homes. For this reason, basic administration was applied by primitive societies. However, management as a science began to be used in the 20th century.
Stages of administration
Administration has gone through different stages until it became formalized as a science and being applied with different approaches.
We can divide administration into five stages.
1. Primitive Era
Without a doubt, administration was used since humans were nomadic. Nomads moved from one place to another and took advantage of the resources provided by nature to cover their needs.
Later on, humans became sedentary and stayed in one place, starting to carry out productive tasks such as farming and animal husbandry to generate more elements to satisfy their needs.
2. Ancient Age
Certainly, in ancient times, the main contributions to administration came from Greece, Egypt, Rome, Babylon, China, and Sumeria.
The most important contributions to administration are:
In fact, the Egyptians made inventories where they recorded sales and taxes generated. They applied the bureaucratic system both in agriculture and construction. Administrative activities were carried out based on plans and projections.
Since constructions were directed by one person who sought to carry out the work efficiently, the principle of division of labor, training and supervision was applied.
They also had a central government with enormous power and carried out the administration process, which was a very complex system. Public officials followed a rigorous process of training, specialization and supervision.
For its part, the Greeks proposed the universality of administration, used the scientific method, and developed the work ethic.
The Ecclesia was the supreme authority, but participation was given to the people to make important decisions. The process was carried out by raising the hand to vote. When a majority of the votes was achieved, the decision that was taken could no longer be reversed.
In addition, the great Greek philosophers contributed to administration. Socrates separated experience from technical knowledge when carrying out the organization of administrative aspects. Plato claimed that all human beings had different aptitudes, which allowed the process of specialization. Aristotle, for his part, sought to create a perfect state. Pericles contributed the principle of personnel selection as a basic principle for administration.
Specifically, Rome contributed order and organization. The Roman Empire was mainly characterized by the centralized organization that helped it to dominate all of Europe and a significant part of Asia.
Although Rome was first a republic and then became a great empire, the Roman Empire was organized in a centralized way. The Roman Empire was organized through the consular system, but as it expanded, it had to change to the proconsular system. This was done to extend the consul’s authority, so that the proconsul was assigned a territory that was governed under his tutelage.
When Christianity appeared, the government transformed into a military autocracy, and the governors of the provinces were eliminated creating a new administrative system with different levels of authority. The Emperor came first, followed by the Praetorian prefects.
Above all, administration was perfected in China. Confucius established the rules for better administrative tasks and laid the foundations of government. He also left a series of rules about public administration.
Later on, in Babylon, the Hammurabi code was established, which also served as a foundation for administration because it analyzed aspects such as control and responsibility in processes. Laws were established to carry out business, considering the establishment of salaries and obligations incurred by contractors.
While in Sumeria, the authority was in the hands of the priests who were responsible for carrying out important works. They created a system in which they kept a record of all transactions that took place. These records were used for commercial and governmental purposes.
3. Middle Ages
The Middle Ages was characterized by the decentralization of tasks and power, both in business organizations and government. This situation arose due to the emergence of the feudal system.
Therefore, decentralized administration originated with feudalism because when fiefs were formed, administration was exercised by lordship with its own jurisdiction, although obligations were owed to the king. In other words, the king possessed limited power and the feudal lord was the administrator. In each fief, control of commercial and artisanal activity was established.
Similarly, the military structure contributed important principles about aspects such as direction, leadership, and discipline. All of this exerts an influence on administration, especially in decision-making.
In the military organization, there was a person who had the responsibility of directing, organizing, and leading groups of people who went to war.
Now, the Catholic Church presented a hierarchical organization where authority is held by a single person in the world. The authority is structured based on a set of rules and principles..
However, the hierarchical structure was decentralized, although control and policies were centralized. The Catholic Church maintained an efficient organization.
Main influences on administration
Some prominent figures in the origin of administration are:
- Isaac Newton: Newton greatly influenced administration through his mathematical determinism and search for accuracy in processes.
- René Descartes: his main contribution was the application of the scientific method, analysis, and division of labor.
- Niccolò Machiavelli: although he was not an administrator, he contributed the principle of consensus within organizations. Ideas about centralization, decentralization, and the qualities that a leader should possess.
1. Modern Age
Later, in the Modern Age, administration was characterized by the emphasis placed on the personnel selection process, job specialization, and the control system of administrative processes.
During mercantilism, the most important economic activity was international trade, which aimed to accumulate precious metals through the export of goods. Mercantilism was driven by the ideas of Calvinism and Protestantism. The functions of the state were centralized.
Subsequently, cameralism was a system of methods and procedures that the German government applied in order to make the state stronger and more efficient.
The Industrial Revolution brought about a radical change in the economic and social structure of society. The discovery of great inventions such as machines occurred, causing machines to do most of the work previously done by people, which had a significant impact on industrial production.
Additionally, the Industrial Revolution played an important role in the development of administration as a formal discipline, particularly due to the industrial production process that forced the search for improvements in production methods and more efficient use of both production times and resources.
2. 20th century
Similarly, during the 20th century, administration continued to evolve as all organizations became more complex. The sciences evolved and this had an impact on the development of administration.
Among the most important contributions are the ideas and experiences of Fayol and Taylor, as they have helped to consider administration as a scientific discipline.
In conclusion, we can say that administration has been present since the origins of human beings, then it has evolved and perfected itself to reach its formalization as a science. Administration is applied in all daily life activities, but over time it has become formalized, allowing it to have multiple applications and different approaches.