Nature of Management
What is Nature of Management? Management has been conceptualized earlier in this lesson, as the social process by which managers of an enterprise integrate and coordinate its resources for the achievement of common, explicit goals. It has developed into a body of knowledge and a separately identifiable discipline during the past six decades. The practice of management as an art is, of course, as old as the organized human effort for the achievement of common goals. Management has also acquired several characteristics of the profession during recent times. Large and medium-sized enterprise in India and elsewhere are managed by professional managers – managers who have little or no share in the ownership of the enterprise and look upon management as a career. The nature of management as a science, as art and as a profession is discussed below:
Management as a Science
Development of management as a science is of recent origin, even though its practice is ages old. Fredrick W. Taylor was the first manager-theorist who made significant contributions to the development of management as a science. He used the scientific methods of analysis, observation, and experimentation in the management of production function. A perceptive manager, as he was, he distilled certain fundamental principles and propounded the theory and principles of scientific management. His work was followed by many others including Gantt, Emerson, Fayol, Barnard, etc. During the last few decades, great strides have been made in the development of management as a systematized body of knowledge which can be learned, taught and researched. It has also provided powerful tools for analysis, prediction, and control to practicing managers. The scientific character of management has been particularly strengthened by management scientists who have developed mathematical models of decision making.
Another characteristic of science in management is that it uses the scientific methods of observation, experimentation and laboratory research. Management principles are firmly based on observed phenomena and systematic classification and analysis of data. These analyses and study of observed phenomena are used for inferring cause-effect relationships between two or more variables. Generalizations about these relationships result in hypotheses. The hypotheses when tested and found to be true are called principles. These principles, when applied to practical situations, help the practitioner in describing and analyzing problems, solving problems and predicting the results.
Even though management is a science so far as to possess a systematized body of knowledge and uses scientific methods of research, it is not an exact science like natural sciences. This is simply because management is a social science, and deals with the behavior of people in the organization. The behavior of people is much more complex and variable than the behavior of inanimate things such as light or heat. This makes controlled experiments very difficult. As a result, management principles lack the rigor and exactitude which is found in physics and chemistry. In fact, many natural sciences which deal with living phenomena such as botany and medicine are also not exact. Management is a social science like economics or psychology and has the same limitations which these and other social sciences have. But this does not in any way diminish the value of management as a knowledge and discipline. It has provided powerful tools for analysis, prediction, and control to practicing managers and helped them in performing their material tasks more efficiently and effectively.
Management as an Art
Just as an engineer uses the science of engineering while building a bridge, a manager uses the knowledge of management theory while performing his managerial functions. Engineering is a science; its application to the solution of practical problems is an art. Similarly, management as a body of knowledge and a discipline is a science; its application to the solution of organizational problems is an art. The practice of management, like the practice of medicine, is firmly grounded in an identifiable body of concepts, theories, and principles. A medical practitioner, who does not base his diagnosis and prescription on the science of medicine, endangers the life of his patient. Similarly, a manager who manages without possessing the knowledge of management creates chaos and jeopardizes the well-being of his organization.
Principles of management like the principles of medicine are used by the practitioner not as rules of thumb but as guides in solving practical problems. It is often said that managerial decision making involves a large element of judgment. This is true too. The raging controversy whether management is a science or an art is fruitless. It is a science as well as an art. Developments in the field of the knowledge of management help in the improvement of its practice; and improvements in the practice of management spur further research and study resulting in further development of management science.
Management as a Profession
We often hears of the professionalization of management in our country. By a professional manager, we generally mean a manager who undertakes management as a career and is not interested in acquiring ownership share in the enterprise which he manages. But, is management a profession in the true sense of the word? or, is management a profession like the professions of law and medicine? According to McFarland a profession possesses the following characteristics: (i) a body of principles, techniques, skills, and specialized knowledge; (ii) formalized methods of acquiring training and experience; (iii) the establishment of a representative organization with professionalization as its goal; (iv) the formation of ethical codes for the guidance of conduct; and (v) the charging of fees based on the nature of services.
Management is a profession to the extent it fulfills the above conditions. It is a profession in the sense that there is a systematized body of management, and it is distinct, identifiable discipline. It has also developed a vast number of tools and techniques. But unlike medicine or law, a management degree is not a prerequisite to becoming a manager. In fact, most managers in India as elsewhere do not have a formal management education. It seems reasonable to assume that at no time in the near future, the possession of a management degree will be a requirement for employment as a career manager.
Management is also a profession in the sense that formalized methods of training are available to those who desire to be managers. We have a number of institutes of management and university departments of management which provide formal education in this field. Training facilities are provided in most companies by their training divisions. A number of organizations such as the Administrative Staff College of India, the Indian Institutes of Management, Management Development Institute, the All India Management Association, and the university departments of management offer a variety of short-term management training programs.
Management partially fulfills the third characteristic of the profession. There are a number of representative organizations of management practitioners almost in all countries such as the All India Management Association in India, the American Management Association in U.S.A., etc. However, none of them have professionalization of management as its goal.
Management does not fulfill the last two requirements of a profession. There is no ethical code of conduct for managers as for doctors and lawyers. Some individual business organizations, however, try to develop a code of conduct for their own managers but there is no general and uniform code of conduct for all managers. In fact, bribing public officials to gain favors, sabotaging trade unions, manipulating prices and markets are by no means uncommon management practices. Furthermore, managers, in general, do not seem to adhere to the principle of “service above self”. However little regard is paid to the elevation of service over the desire for monetary compensation is evidenced by switching of jobs by managers. Indeed, such mobile managers are regarded as more progressive and modern than others.
It may be concluded from the above discussion that management is a science, an art as well as a profession. As a social science, management is not as exact as natural sciences, and it is not as fully a profession as medicine and law.