Whether Management can be regarded as a Science or an Art? – Answered!
Generally a controversy arises whether the management is a science or an art.
This controversy has created a good deal of confusion about the nature of management. A right answer to the question whether management is a science or an art or both will largely depend on a clear understanding of the term ‘art’ and ‘science’.
(i) Management: An Art
Art is often considered as the application of skill or knowledge for the effective accomplishment of concrete results. Every art is practical in its approach because the proof of the competence of the practitioner lies in the tangible results that he is able to show. Thus, art is perfected through knowledge and experimentation. Art is called creative because it is concerned with the creation of something.
T.L. Massie says, “In any activity that is classed as an art, the emphasis is on applying skills and knowledge and accomplishing an end through deliberate effort.” According to G.R. Terry-Art is “bringing about of a desired result through the application of skill.
C.L Barnard has remarked “The function of an ait is to accomplish concrete ends, effect results, produce situations that would not come about without the deliberate effort to secure them.
The following are the necessary features of art:
1. Personal skill,
2. Practical knowledge,
3. Result-oriented approach
4. Regular practice, and
5. 5. Creativity.
By applying these features of art, let us examine whether management qualifies as an art.
1. Personal Skill:
Art is concerned with the application of personal skill and knowledge to achieve useful results. Management is certainly an art as a manager uses his personal skill and knowledge in solving many complicated problems that confront him in working his enterprise successfully. Management is, essentially, an art of handling or directing people to achieve desired results.
2. Practical Knowledge:
An art means practical knowledge. It is concerned with application of skill or knowledge acquired. Management does not simply mean the knowledge of principles of management rather it is the application of this knowledge which makes it effective and useful.
Just as a person cannot become a good cook merely by learning the principles of cooking by heart, similarly, a person cannot be called a manager even if he memorises the principles of management, unless he can apply these principles in practice while taking managerial decisions.
3. Result-Oriented Approach:
Management process is directed towards the achievement of concrete results. Hence, it has result oriented approach. Management has to ensure that projects are completed well in time, targets of production and sales are attained, a proper return on capital employed is secured and so on. Management aims at achieving maximum productivity at minimum costs.
4. Regular Practice:
Like an artist, management always strives to achieve higher and higher goals with a view to attaining the stage of absolute perfection. Maximum efficiency of effectiveness is achieved through regular practice.
An experienced manager not only moulds the attitude and behaviour of people at work towards achievements of certain goals, but also alters the environment itself. No one can become a good manager unless he regularly practices this art of decision-making and leadership.
Every art has an element of creativity. In this sense, management can be regarded as most creative art as it is concerned with getting things done through others by inspiring them to work. It was more so in the ancient times, when it was believed that management skill cannot be codified and communicated.
But with the passage of time, it was felt that principles of management can be laid down, codified and communicated, which gave birth to management as a science.
(ii) Management: A Science
The word science literally means knowledge. It is a systematised body of knowledge acquired by mankind through observation and experimentation which is capable of verification. Science is systematised in the sense that certain relationships, principles and their limitations have been discovered, tested and established.
The observations are made on the basis of scientific methods which involve determination of facts through these observations of events and verifying the accuracy of these facts through continued observations. According to Keynes, “Science is a systematised body of knowledge which establishes relationship between cause and effect.”
Science Has, thus the Following Features:
(i) It is a systematised body of knowledge and uses scientific methods for observations.
(ii) The principles are evolved on the basis of continued observations.
(iii) The principles are exact and have universal applicability without any limitation.
(iv) The principles establish a cause and effect relationship between various factors.
(v) The validity of scientific principles can be verified and they provide a reliable basis for predicting future events.
Let us, now apply these features of science to management to determine whether it qualifies as a science:
1. Systematised Body of Knowledge:
Management is regarded as a science as it is an organised body of knowledge built up by management practitioners, thinkers and philosophers over a period of years. “Management science is a body of systematised knowledge accumulated and accepted with reference to the understanding of general truths concerning management.”
Management contains a systematic body of knowledge based on certain principles which have wide application. Frederick, W. Taylor, the father of Scientific Management applied scientific techniques in planning, organising, staffing, motivating, etc.
2. Continued Observation:
The principles of management have been developed after continued observation. The knowledge of management has been acquired through continuous and vigorous efforts of many theorists and practitioners over a period of years.
3. Universal Application:
Management has evolved certain general principles of universal application. Theo Haimann has observed, “The principles of management are universal. They are applicable to any kind of enterprise wherever there is coordinated effort of human beings.”
4. Cause and Effect Relationship:
Scientific principles establish cause and effect relationship between different variables. When applied to management, the principles of management also establish cause and effect relationship, e.g., good planning and plant layout cause higher productivity.
5. Validity and Predictability:
Simple knowledge or collection of facts is not science. It is only when the knowledge so gathered can be verified, it becomes science. The principles of management have been put to several tests and found to be valid.
For instance, an individual working under one manager will show better results than the individual who has to follow two or more managers, the principle of unity of command. Further, the principles of management by establishing cause and effect relationship can serve as a reliable basis for predicting future events.