MANAGEMENT IS SCIENCE OR ART
There has always been a conflicting view about management whether it is a science or an art. Some management experts say that management is a science whereas some say that management is an art and some other says management is both a science and an art.
Resolving these conflicting views about management is important because learning process of science and art differs.
Science is mostly learned through experimentation while art is mostly learned through practice.
Let’s identify the features of both science and art and evaluate the extent to which management has these features:
Management as a Science:
Science is a body of systematized knowledge generated through logical consistency, critical evaluation and experimental study.
Thus, science has following features:
Systematized Body of Knowledge:
Science is systematized body of knowledge. Principles of science are based on definite cause-effect relationship, that is, a particular factor has been caused by what factor can be explained in a definite way.
For example, if you throw a ball up, after going upward the ball will ultimately come back on the ground because of earth’s gravitational force.
In a management, there is lack of such a cause-effect relationship; cause-effect relationship is defined in a flexible way, not in definite way. Thus, management is not a true science.
Principles based on Experimentation:
In science, principles are evolved on the basis of experiments conducted in laboratories. Such principles are tested rigourously for final approval.
In management, this is not done in all cases. In many cases management practices are based on personal observations and experiences.
In some cases, experiments in managements are conducted under controlled conditions but their findings are not tested like science.
From this point of view, management is not a true science.
Principles of science can be verified by any one. Such verifications will give the same results again and again. Management principles are not verifiable in many cases.
In fact, in many cases, it is difficult to appreciate the bases on which management principles has been evolved.
Thus, management is not a true science.
Principles of science have universal application, that is, they remain true irrespective of the condition in which these are applied.
As against this, management principles are situation bound.
It implies that a management principle which works well in one country may not work equally in another country.
This is because of situational differences between the two countries. Further, a management principle which works well in one organisation may not work well in another organisation of the same country.
Similarly a management principle which has worked well in an organisation in the past may not work well in the present because of changed situations. Thus, management can’t be called ‘true science’.
The above discussion shows that management is not a true science. Therefore, management is called an ‘inexact science’ or ‘pseudo-science’.
Management as an Art:
Art is defined as the use of skills to bring a desired result. Skills refer to practical ability or expertness required for doing something.
Thus, art has following features:
Knowledge refers to possession of facts and techniques of a particular field. Knowledge can be acquired through either study, practical experience or both.
Generally, in art, more emphasis is on acquiring knowledge through practical experience.
In management, knowledge is acquired both through study and experience. Thus, management is an art.
Personalized Application of Management:
In art, there is personalized application of knowledge to achieve the desired results. This is possible because the same set of results can be achieved through a number of alternative ways. This is done in management too; each manager has his own way of achieving results. Thus, management is an art.
Improvement through Continuous Practice:
In art, improvement is made through continuous practice. This practice eliminates those activities which are not relevant for achieving the desired results and improves those activities that are relevant.
Through this way, the person engaged in any art tends to move towards perfection. This is also done in management. Thus, management is an art.
Art has the situation application. This implies that an art which is appreciated in one situation may not be appreciated in another situation.
This is true for management too; a particular management practice which is quite effective in an organisation may not be effective in another organisation because of change in situational context.
Further, in the same organisation, management practices may change over a period of time because of change in situational variables.
Emphasis on creativity:
Art puts emphasis on creativity through which new things or ways of working are created.
This is done in management too; managers create new products, adopts new ways of working, use new means of finance, practice new ways of marketing and so on.
The above discussion shows that management is an art.
MANAGEMENT IS BOTH A SCIENCE AND AN ART:
If we combine the discussion of management as a science and an art, we find that management has some features of science though not in the same way as science has and it has all features of art.
Thus, management is both science and art.
It implies that a person is likely to become an effective manager if he has knowledge of management principles and skills for applying correct principles in given situation.
While knowledge of management principles can be developed through the study of management discipline, knowledge of how management principles can be applied comes from experience.