There has also been a debate whether management is a science or an art or the both.
This can be best answered if we examine management with each of these aspects separately.
Management as a Science:
What is science?
In simple words, science is a systematic body of knowledge based on certain principles, capable of general application. The systematic knowledge is obtained through the process of observation, experimentation, and testing. In that vein, management also has the characteristics of science.
Like natural sciences such as physics and chemistry, management also explains organizational phenomena of human behaviour, events, and situations, and establishes cause and effect relationship between two or more variables.
There are principles, techniques, and theories of management that explain the phenomena and human conduct. However, management science cannot be regarded as absolute or exact truths. This is because human behaviour is not subjected to laboratory experiments in the same way as possible in physics and chemistry.
Though human behaviour is generally caused, yet it is highly unpredictable. Management is, therefore, a social science. Similarly, business conditions are liable to frequent changes. Thus, management is, of course, a science but not the absolute or exact truth, but just a flexible guide.
What is art? Simply speaking, art is the application of knowledge skillfully to achieve the desired results. From this point of view, management is an art also. How? Because management is the application of the management theory in the light of realities to achieve the desired results. No doubt, art involves skillful application of scientific knowledge to achieve the desired results. But, it also requires an insight and judgment to be exercised and these are very much involved in the process of management.
The basic difference between the art and science is that the former explains the events of the past and the latter accomplishes results which would not come without it. This can be exemplified with an example: A surgeon without the knowledge of medical science becomes a witch doctor, with the knowledge of application of science, an artful surgeon.
George R. Terry (1953) has drawn the following distinction between science and art:
|Advances knowledge||Advances by practice|
Management is Science as well as Art:
Thus, it becomes clear that management is both science as well as art. Management as science is relatively young and developing subject. As regards art, the art of management is as old as civilization itself. The experience suggests that the both are complementary and supplementary to each other.
Managers need to acquire the systematic knowledge in management and then skillfully use that knowledge to achieve the desired results. Peter Drucker (1970) points out, “Every organization has, by and large, the same resources to work with. It is the quality of management that spells the difference between success and failure of the organizations.”
Alternatively speaking, it does not matter how much resources an enterprise has, what matters is how much one uses whatever one has. In short, managing may be regarded as the art of doing and management may be regarded as the body of knowledge that underlies the art.
Management as Profession:
Before we try to ascertain management as profession, it will be pertinent to first understand the meaning of profession. What is profession? Without going into the semantics of various definitions of profession given by different people, profession can simply be defined as an occupation that requires specialized knowledge and intensive academic preparations to which entry is regulated by a representative body.
One professional Louis Allen defined profession as “a specialized kind of work practiced through and by use of classified knowledge, a common vocabulary, and requiring standards of practice and code of ethics established by a recognized body.” Whether management can be called a profession or not will be clear if we first identify and know the salient characteristics of a recognized profession like accountancy, medicine, law, etc.
The essential characteristics of a profession are but not confined to the following only:
1. Specialized Knowledge:
Every profession has a well prescribed and defined area of systematic, specialized, and organized knowledge. Such knowledge can be used to develop the professionals. As per the professional ethics or code of conduct, every professional is required to acquire the specialized knowledge and also practice the same as per the laid down professional code of conduct. For example, the accounting professionals need to conduct their accounting job as per the professional code of conduct of accounting profession lay down by the Institute of Chartered accountants of India (ICAI).
2. Formalized Method of Acquiring Education & Training:
One of the prerequisites of any profession is the professional knowledge is acquired through the formal manners and methods. In modem professions like management and accounting, for example, there is no relevance of intuitive knowledge and myths.
Only after acquiring the specialized knowledge through formal method can one join a profession. For example, a person with accounting knowledge cannot audit the accounts unless he has acquired a formal qualification (degree or diploma) like Chartered Accountant (CA).
3. Social Obligations:
Profession is a source of livelihood. Nonetheless, professionals do not need to confine to their own self-interest only but have obligations to serve the society as well. Following this, the managers are responsible not only to its owners but also to the society and, therefore, they are expected to provide quality goods and services at reasonable prices to the society also.
4. Code of Ethic:
Code of ethics can also be called as code of conduct. Members of a profession have to abide by a code of ethics in terms of dos and don’t dos while performing their jobs. The code of ethics of any profession contains certain explicit rules and regulations, norms and levels of honesty, and integrity to be followed by the professionals.
One of the basic objectives of enforcing code of ethics by the representative association is to ensure self-discipline among its members. Accordingly, any member violating the code of conduct can be punished and his membership can be withdrawn. For example, the All India Management Association (AIMA) has prescribed a code of ethics for managers to be followed.
5. Representative Association:
As mentioned above, the code of ethics of any profession is prepared and monitored by a representative association. In other words, for the regulation of any profession, the existence of a representative association or body is must. For example, in India the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) establishes and administers standards of competence for the auditors. Indian Medical Association (IMA) sets and regulates medical profession in the country.
Having gone through the above characteristics of a profession, we find that all above characteristics are found applicable to management also. Thus, we can safely conclude that management is not only a science and art but a profession also. It does not restrict the entry in managerial jobs for account of one standard or other.