Management As A Science Or An Art Commerce Essay


Management, is a word we use on an everyday basis but never stop to think about what it really means. Different people have different theories as to what the implications of this word are. For example - Stanley Vance defines management as "the process of decision making and control over the actions of human beings for the express purpose of attaining predetermined goals", R.C. Davis looks at management simply as "the function of leadership anywhere", while William Spreigel considers management to be "that function of an enterprise which concerns itself with direction and control of the various activities to attain the business objectives. Management is essentially an executive function ; it deals particularly with the active direction of the human effort."

Through a comprehensive study, it is clear that management maybe defined as - The process by which an organization or a body is controlled to achieve a goal or a target through planning, organizing and directing.

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When two or more people work together to achieve some common goal or target through a course of work they must partake in the act of management in order to achieve their goal in the fastest, easiest and best possible way. Hence management can also be seen as the "integrating force in all organized activity" - anonymous.

Management as a Science or an Art?

Management can be looked at as a science and at the same time an art. It deals with usage of study and statistical data as well as planning and organizing which make it a scientific procedure while at the same time it has to maintain a certain amount of flexibility in its procedures which is not scientific at all but is considered as an art.

Part A

Management Theory

Management as a practice has existed since ancient times. The Indus valley civilization, the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians - none of them would have been the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen if not for their skilful management practices. The whole progress of man and civilization as a whole is due to the advancement in management practices over the ages.

As discussed earlier, management is considered an art due to its dynamism. And it is this very dynamism which has helped to mould the practice of management in order to suit the current needs of a particular period in time.

Over the years management has evolved and now as we study this evolution of management we can see that the theories can be broadly classified into time based approaches - The Classical approach, The Neo-Classical Approach and the Modern Approach and further subdivided into "schools of thought" within these time based sections.

The Early Classical Approaches are -

Scientific management

Administrative management or the Management Process Theory


The Neo-Classical Approaches

Human Relations movement

Behavioural approach

Decision Theory

The Modern Approaches are -

Quantitative Approach or the Management Science Approach

Systems Approach

Contingency Approach.

The Early Classical Approaches

The Scientific Management School or Theory-

Frederick Winslow Taylor is considered the father of scientific management. He experimented for around 26 years which was the same span of time as that of his career. He worked at firms such as - Midvale Steel, Simonds Rolling Machine and Bethlehem Steel and carried out a series of experiments in these environments whose conclusions maybe considered very important contributions in the scientific management school of thought.

Some important constituent changes that this school of thought has to offer, greatly influenced by Taylor are -

Determination of standards of performance - Taylor took the pain to sit and measure the time taken for doing a certain piece of work. He studied the variants of how many different ways the same piece of work could be done in and measured each method to find the easiest and most productive method. This was done in order to lay down a standard work procedure

Functional Foremanship - Taylor subdivided the planning and work processes, he made functional foremen plan and instruct workers while the workers just followed instructions.

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Differential Payment - Taylor devised a pay plan under which any worker that produced more units of produce as compared to what he is expected to produce was rewarded with higher pay and those who produced a standard number of units were paid a lesser amount.

Scientific Recruitment and Training - Taylor suggested that in order to improve the efficiency of new employees, they must be selected in a scientific process in order to select the best of the best and that they should be trained in order to optimize their potential to work.

Reorganization of Management- Taylor suggested that management should take up administrative burdens wholly instead of burdening the workforce and they should learn to work in harmony with the workforce in order to achieve maximum efficiency. The functions of the new management were mainly decision making and planning and organizing.

Mental Revolution - Taylor expressed that it was necessary for an employee to have a complete mental revolution in order to be able to be most suited to the needs of his workplace. An employee needs to change his attitude about his job and the way he does it as well as the image he carries of his workplace.


Some Limitations of this school of thought are as follows -

The Determining of standards of performance cannot be done through the method that he chose to do so because it is impossible to determine THE BEST, one and only method to do a piece of work. Different people have different abilities and approaches, hence each man has his own method to do that piece of work in an efficient manner.

The Reorganizing of management and functional foremanship was not as organized and efficient a method as he thought it was. Firstly, it used more manpower than required which caused major confusion at times, Secondly, it was expensive to maintain this level of

manpower so it seemed illogical to follow through with this method.

Administrative Management Theory/ Management Process School -

The father of the Administrative Management theory is undoubtedly Henry Fayol who was a French mining engineer who became an industrialist and a very successful manager. Fayol thought that industry at the time lacked giving attention to management skills that were of utmost importance. He focused on five major factors of management - planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling.

He emphasized on certain other principles as well -

Division of work - he believed that efficiency of work could be maximized if there was division and specialization of labour which is a practice used even today

Authority and Responsibility - Fayol stated that any manager who was willing to exercise his authority in order to get work done must also take responsibility for getting the work done and for any other implications of his actions

Discipline - Fayol stated that this was and still is a trait that is essential for smooth running of any organization. Employees of all levels should be obedient to authority and abide by the rules of the organization and respect all agreements made.

Unity of Command - an employee should receive instructions or commands from one employee ONLY in order for that employee to be discipline and to avoid confusion

Unity of Direction - this principle states that there should be perfect identity between departmental and organizational targets or goals in order to prevent one from disallowing the employee to fulfil the other.

Subordination of Individual interests to General Interest - each employee has his or her own interests while working for an organization (money, status, etc.)

Remuneration - The increment paid to employees should be fair and in accordance to their level of work. This would provide satisfaction to both employee and employer.

Centralization - It is related to the level of authority that employees can be given. Management must decide what level of authority employees can be given and how involved they would like their employees to be in managerial fields.

Scalar Chain - it is the organization of a firm in order to create a hierarchy from the highest level employee to the lowest level employee for the purpose of communication and work division.

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Order - Fayol states that if everything is in its rightful place, thus creating order, it makes work more organized, hence easier.

Stability of tenure of employees - in order to achieve most efficient results from employees they must be given job security from the employers to create a feeling of attachment to the organization.

Initiative - Fayol introduced the theory that employees should be encouraged to bring new ideas that might improve the working of the firm.

Esprit de Corps - The meaning of this is "team spirit". Fayol emphasizes on the importance of teamwork and communication of employees.


It leads to formation of small closed units of work groups where employees of each unit does not care about the workings of other units of the same organization or his own work in the big picture

It does not allow employees to exhibit their multi skill set if they can

It is based with an assumption that the organization in question is a closed one which is not how it is in reality


The father of Bureaucracy is Max Weber, a well renowned German sociologist. After a large amount of study he came to state that a bureaucracy was a system of management in which the leader was not handed his position from generation to generation, nor was a single leader who could not be questioned, he was simply the manager or leader who was most able to hold that position.

Some features of Bureaucracy are -

Administration is carried out through well-defined rules

Regulated and systematic division of labour

A hierarchal organization exists

Employees are recruited and maintained after demonstrating their skill and knowledge, they are protected from arbitrary dismissal

All administrative acts, rules and decisions made are recorded in writing

Individuals are assigned fixed duties


Employees of these organizations tend to follow the rules too rigidly, leaving no room for innovation or flexibility in handling situations

Employees may be afraid of taking independent decisions hence they abandon that piece of work altogether

The original goal of the institution maybe displaced in the quest to maintain the organization by the rules

The structure of the organization is highly rigid thereby disallowing employees much freedom and psychologically handicapping mature individuals

The Neo-Classical Approaches

The Human Relations School

The Human Relations School came about after the Hawthorne experiments carried out by Professor Elton Mayo in the Western Electric Plant in Cicero, Illinois from 1927 to 1932. The experiments were conducted in four parts -

Illumination Experiments

Relay Assembly Test Room

Interviewing Program

Bank Wiring Test Room

The inference of these experiments showed that -

A workplace was as much a social environment as it was a techno-economic environment and that employees were abiding by certain social norms which determined the level of output of work

Employee motivation is based on the social needs as well as the psychological needs of an employee

Participation and democratic leadership of employees is more effective than task centred leadership

Managers and workers come to a common agreement in order to base the required teamwork


This approach leads us away from that of Taylor and Fayol's approaches making it less structured and organized and is susceptible to a breakdown in management

The formation of social groups could lead to disputes between social groups leading to mismanagement and disorder in the organization

The importance of material rewards is highly underestimated

This approach would fail during an emergency due to the leniency of decision making

This approach reduces the authority and power of the superior over his employees

Behavioural Approach

The Behavioural Approach is a more mature version of the Human Relations School of thought. It emphasizes on the social and psychological needs of employees in a workplace. It highlights the need to humanize the administration of the process of control and encourages self direction instead of control imposed on employees. It requires a flexible administration system to handle employees and their needs in order to maximize their efficiency. Douglas McGregor, Abraham Maslow,Kurt Lewin, Chester Barnard, Mary Parker Follett, George Homans, Rensis Likert, Chris Argyris and Warren Bennis are some of the established behavioural scientists who helped mould this theory.

The Decision Theory School

This School of thought founded by Simon, looks at the management process from the view of a decision making process primarily. This is the central principle around which a manager is expected to follow other secondary principles such as innovating, creating a healthy working environment and integrating the external environment with the organization.

The Modern Schools of Thought

The Management Science School or Quantitative Approach

This is a highly systematic method of management through analysis, mathematical data and "hard facts". This approach is a method used in decision making, organizing and planning because of its straightforward and logical nature and because it is based on hard truths or facts. Being unemotional and rigid in nature it does not help much in the remaining processes of staffing, leading and controlling and this is its only drawback. This form of management is used extensively today in all organizations and managers need to have disciplined thinking in order to achieve the preciseness.

The Systems Theory School

This School of thought is a systematic model of an organization which shows that any organization is made up of many segments which are interlinked by some common means allowing them to work together fulfilling their individual functions to paint the big picture that is the working of the organization just like the cogs of a clock.

According to this theory a system is composed of a number of subsystems which are -

Production subsystem - concerned with converting inputs or raw materials into finished products

Supportive subsystem - deals with the acquiring of the various inputs to be used from external environments

Maintenance subsystem - deals with the maintaining and controlling of employees within the environment

Adaptive subsystem - deals directly with the environment in order to make the organization relatable to the environment by influencing both the environment and the organization

Managerial subsystem - deals with planning, coordinating, organizing , controlling, staffing and directing the other subsystems involved

Individual employees - get the work done and also have the ability to influence the organization

Informal groups - arise due to interactions between individual employees and their behaviour as a whole influences the organization.

The Contingency Approach

According to this theory, none of the management school's theories are universal. It commands that any management principle or system should be specific to the needs and priorities of an organization which differs from organization to organization and place to place. It states that there is no single best way to manage an organization. It exposes the flexibility of management and frees it of the rigidity brought to it by some of the previous principles of management.

Part B

Diverse Functions of Management

The main functions of management which are as follows -





These are the 4 major steps in management which leads one to a systematic and successful organization. Apart from this other important functions of management are -





Planning may be defined as the systematic approach to chalk out a future course of action for accomplishing a goal. It is the first step in the act of management. It predetermines -

What needs to be achieved?

How it is to be achieved?

Who is to contribute what toward this common goal?

When it is to be done?

Why it should be done?

Planning is a continuous process that concerns the entire administrative body and it commits the organization for future prospects. It is a highly dynamic process because the future is uncertain, and in order to achieve the best possible results a plan needs to be revised time and time again before it is executed.

Steps in Planning

Forecasting - Common business planning schemes include economic forecasting (by the lead and lag method, overshoot method, weighing opposite method), Sales forecasting (by the sales force composite method, mathematical projections, polling, market research, jury of executive opinion method), Technological forecasting

Determining objectives - based on forecasting many long term and short term objectives are determined, primarily dealing with survival, growth rate, profitability, innovation, efficiency, and productivity and employee development.

Determining how to achieve these planned objectives

Determination of required resources -once the plans have been made, the need of financial resources, equipment and facilities, materials, services, supplies and manpower are looked after both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Types of Plans

There are 2 broad categories under which plans can be classified -

Strategic Planning

Tactical Planning

It is a long term planning method

It is a short term planning method

It deals with major goals and policies of allocation of resources to achieve said goals

It deals with deciding the allocation of resources in a detailed manner for achieving said goals

It is dealt with by higher level managers and rarely middle level managers

It is dealt with by low level management

Is based on long term forecasting of technology and political environment hence it is uncertain by nature

It is based on past performance and facts and figures of the organization and is therefore less uncertain by nature

It is less detailed because it deals with a macro level approach to planning

It is more detailed as it deals with day to day operations and hence a micro level approach to planning

Limitations of Planning

Uncertain future - it is hard to always plan accurately due to the uncertainty of the future

Premium on the present - we are more inclined to take care of the needs of today than tomorrows needs

Past decisions - past decisions concerning mainly a huge amount of money or resources tend to affect future planning

Administrative problems -managers may have their own views that may lead to conflict in a common planning system

External factors - certain external factors may hamper planning processes like government intervention etc.

Human problems - humans have had a tendency to not prefer change, and since planning brings about a change, there may be resistance to this act

Rapid change - continuously changing technology and environmental factors make it hard to plan accurately

Expense and time - it is financially draining and time consuming so at times it may seem like it's not worth the trouble


Organizing refers to the process by which an activity or a piece of work is carried out in a systematic manner by classifying the work to be done, who it is to be done by and the allocation of resources for that piece of work so that when the work is being done all the parts of this system are in place providing a convenient environment for work.

The main features of organization are-

Division of work load

Unity of direction


Authority and responsibility

Scalar chain

There are six basic organizational structures which are -

Line structure

Line and staff structure

Functional structure


Project structure


Structures of most businesses are a combination of the above structures, and are generally hierarchal in nature.


This refers to the process of taking the initiative and responsibilities to get the work done by employees by motivating them. It also means that the person who takes this up is then a "leader" who monitors the entire work process and is in charge of it. All managers are leaders. Leaders could also come from within the workforce. Sometimes employees take initiative and this allows them to oversee the work of their colleagues giving them the responsibility of the work.

There are different types of leaders who follow different approaches, namely -

Autocratic style - is primarily a dictator who limits the participation of his subordinates

Democratic style - involves his employees in decision making and feedback and in deciding work methods and goals

Laissez- Faire style - gives employees complete freedom to make decisions and work as they please


This refers to the act of regulating the work being conducted. It is the intervention of a superior or someone with authority in order to ensure that the employees are working as per the given standards and that they are abiding by all the rules in order to attain the predetermined goals.

Steps in controlling -

Measuring actual performance - through statistical data and observation

Comparing performance against set standards

Allowing a certain degree of variation from the standards

Taking action to correct deviation from standards

Types of Controlling-

Feedforward Control - is a precautionary measure

Concurrent control - is done while the work is being conducted]

Feedback control - is done after the work is over


Part A - Management Theories

The Classical Schools of management thought form the base for management as a concept and as a practice. Frederick Taylor's model of scientific management theory was the founding force behind the concept of management yet it does not fully realize the variables involved within an organization like the humane nature of the organization. Fayol's model however gives us many important factors which we still abide by today and are very helpful in maintaining a discipline organization. Max Weber's model of bureaucracy is a well thought of model but at the same time, again, due to human nature it is easily corruptible.

The human relations school and behavioural approach bring an element of humanity into the organizational structure fulfilling the social needs of employees yet it can be mistaken by employees as a passage to indiscipline and a stand against authority figures.

The management science school is by my choice the most logical approach to management. If combined with a few factors of the behavioural approach and the human relations school it may prove to be the best management method. Of course some of the most base factors from the classical approaches must be held in collaboration as well. The contingency approach is ideally sound, yet practically it cannot always be so as some form of a systematic approach must be kept in order to hold the organization into place.

Part B - Diverse Functions of Management

The diverse functions of management are highly important in the process of management in order to keep it a systematic approach. The process of planning maybe only theoretical but it eliminates the need to go through a trial and error process and allows any organization insight into their future, allowing them to act accordingly. Organizational structure differs from organization to organization depending on the need of that particular setup and it is very important to keep a rigid organizational structure in order to be able to control the work procedure. Leading and controlling are very important functions of management but they have one weakness - human preferences can get in the way of them. Often leaders or managers who are in charge of controlling an operation tend to enforce a work system that they think is best but it may not be a work method that the employees are comfortable with, thus creating a lack of efficiency and productivity.


All things in nature have a way of organizing themselves in order to survive and man has tried his level best over the ages to perfect this art. At the end of the day we are all human, we all have flaws, and it is how we can adapt and change that matters most. If we allow ourselves to get carried away with greed, jealousy, anger or hatred not even the best system of management can prove to be useful. The whole point of management is to bring about a small change in ourselves for the greater good. If we can work in a systematic manner, in harmony - we will prosper - and this is the ultimate philosophy of management.