Cyril J. O'Donnell

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Cyril O'Donnell (December 1900 – February 16, 1976) was an American organizational theorist and prolific professor and teacher of management at the University of California, Los Angeles.


  • [ Management can be defined as] the function of getting things done through others.
    • Harold Koontz and Cyril O’Donnell (1955), Principles of Management: An Analysis of Managerial Functions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955, p. 3; As cited in Wren & Bedeian (2009;411)

Principles of management, 1968


Harold Koontz and Cyril O'Donnell. Principles of management; An analysis of managerial functions. 1968; 1972.

See Harold Koontz#Principles of management, 1968

Quotes about Cyril J. O'Donnell

  • After joining the faculty at UCLA in 1948, Professor O'Donnell quickly became a leader in the newly developing field of management theory and policy. He taught the basic courses in this area. In 1955 the first edition of the textbook Principles of Management, coauthored with Professor Harold Koontz, was published by McGraw-Hill. This book synthesized an operational approach to the management of enterprises. By filling a long-felt need in colleges and universities, it soon became the outstanding college textbook on its subject.
  • Harold D. Koontz (1908–1984) and Cyril O’Donnell (1900–1976) of the University of California at Los Angeles defined management as "the function of getting things done through others." They furthered Fayol’s ideas and sought to provide a conceptual framework for the orderly presentation of the principles of management. According to Koontz and O’Donnell, managers were known by the work they performed, which was planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. These authors pointed out that, although some authorities maintained that these functions were exercised in the sequence given, in practice managers actually used all five simultaneously. They stressed that each of these functions contributed to organizational coordination. Coordination, however, was not a separate function itself but was the result of effective utilization of the five basic managerial functions. Koontz and O’Donnell offered a number of principles: in organizing, for example, "the principle of parity of authority and responsibility" and "the principle of unity of command"; in planning, "the principle of strategic factors"; and so on. The Koontz and O’Donnell text became an enduring, integral part of the search for a systematic body of management knowledge.
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