Managing: Art or Science

Managing like any other practice - whether engineering, accountancy, law, or medicine - is an art. Artistic application of management know-how is evident. It is understood that managing is doing things artistically in the light of the realities of a situation. But a modern manager can do better by using the knowledge, methods, concepts, theories, etc. of managing at his/her workplace. This knowledge, methods, concepts, and theories related to managing can be treated as science.
Thus, it may be said that managing in practice is an art but the body of knowledge, methods, principles, etc. underlying the practice is science. Even some people might opine that managing is an art struggling to become a science. The art and science of managing are not so much conflicting as complementary.

Managing as an Art

The art of managing is a personal creative power of the manager which is, more often than not, enriched by his skill in performance. The art of managing involves the conception of a vision of an orderly whole created from chaotic parts and the communication and achievement of this vision. Managing is the "art of arts" because it organizes and uses human talent.

Managing as a Science

Management science is a body of systematized knowledge accumulated and accepted concerning the understanding of general truths concerning management. The science underlying managing is indeed inexact, or a soft science at best. It is not as accurate or comprehensive as physical sciences (such as chemistry or biology) which deal with non-human entities. The inclusion of the human element in managing makes this discipline not only complex but also controversial as a pure science. Human behavior is unpredictable. Different people think, act, or react differently under identical circumstances. So, management can never become as pure a science as the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the study of the scientific elements in management methodologies can certainly improve the practice of management. Managers who attempt to manage without management science have to trust their intuition or luck at their peril rather than their expertise or skill. Thus, they have to turn to meaningful guidance to accumulate knowledge of managing.
Management is not a pure science but it has scientific elements. Managers can improve their skills of management by studying the scientific approaches to their practice of management.

Managing as Both Science and Art

Science teaches us to know while art teaches us to do. To be successful, managers have to know and do things effectively and efficiently. This requires a unique combination of both science and the art of managing them. It may, however, be said that the art of managing begins where the science of managing stops. Since the science of managing is imperfect, the manager must turn to artistic managerial ability to perform a job satisfactorily.

The Elements of Science in Managing

Science is organized knowledge. The essence of science is the application of scientific methods to the development of knowledge.
The scientific approach requires clear “concepts” - mental images of anything formed by generalization from particulars.
“Scientific method” involves the determination of facts through observation. This leads to the development of “principles” which have value in predicting what will happen in similar circumstances.
Any branch of science has theories. A “theory” is a systematic grouping of interdependent concepts and principles that gives a framework to, or ties together, a significant area of knowledge.
There is no denying the fact that management at the present day is a distinct field of organized knowledge. It is composed of concepts, methods, principles, theories, etc. Concepts and methods of managing help the formulation of principles and theories of management. Principles of management are fundamental truths in managing and explaining relationships between two or more sets of variables. For example, the principle of unity of command states that the more often an individual reports to a single superior, the more likely it is that the individual will feel a sense of loyalty and obligation, and the less likely it is that there will be confusion about instruction.
Concepts, methods, theories, and so on of management like those of the physical sciences help organize management knowledge. But they are not so inflexible as those of the sciences.
The theories of managing are the results of practice, and the role of such theories is to provide a systematic grouping of interdependent concepts and principles that furnishes a framework to, or ties together significant pertinent management knowledge. The theories of motivation, leadership, and so on may be cited as examples. But it is to be borne in mind that concepts, methods, and principles of management are not as rigid as those of the physical sciences. They may undergo revision and change under new socio-political and economic circumstances.

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2024-07-11 04:10:06
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