Is Management an Art or Science?

Very often a question is raised whether management is an art or a science. Before arriving at any conclusion, it is more appropriate to ascertain the attributes of an art and science and should see whether such attributes are applicable to management also. Therefore, we shall now analyze this important question under two separate headings namely,

  1. Management as an Art, and
  2. Management as a Science.
Management - Art or Science

Management – Art or Science?

1. Management as an Art

The practice of management is as old as the history of human cooperation. Wherever co-operative endeavors have been required in the past, management has been practiced as an art. The term art refers to the practical application of knowledge and it is perfected through knowledge and experimentation. In other words, art involves the exercise of know-how or systematic skill for the effective accomplishment of concrete results.

Management holds many important qualities of an art. Therefore, we shall now proceed to make a comparison between these two.

1. Just like an art, the process of management also involves the use of know-how and skill. The manager must have adequate technical skill and competence to make correct decisions on the various aspects of the works of the organization.

2. Secondly, the process of management, as in the case of an art, is also directed towards the accomplishment of concrete results.

3. Thirdly, the success of an artist depends upon his ability. Every artist cannot be considered as good in his job. The same is the case of a manager. Even in our day-to-day life, we observe that where there are two businessmen dealing in the same type of goods, both do not prosper to same degree but the degree of their success and prosperity differs.

4. Fourthly, the work of an artist is highly personalized. The practice of management is also personalized in the sense that every manager has his own approach to the problems of the enterprise.

5. Finally, art is creative in its nature. Management is also creative in the sense that it is the function of creating or producing situations or objects.

Since the process of management holds all the important characteristics of an art, many authorities have safely concluded that it is an art. The serious limitations of the management science have also lead to believe that management is an art and not a science.

2. Management as a Science

Science, on the other hand, is an organized theoretical knowledge empirically derived, critically tested and generalized into theories, laws and principles. Therefore, any subject which-has a body of systematic knowledge can be rightly regarded as a science.

So far as management is concerned, it does satisfy the basic characteristics of a science. It has also been found by experience that methods of science can be effectively applied to different operations in factories to achieve the desired results. Hence, it deserves to be placed in the category of science.

Conclusion

So far, we have analyzed the basic qualities of an art and a science. The process of management also possesses certain well recognized characteristics of an art and a science. But it cannot be regarded as strictly identical to an art or a science.

Management, in fact, cannot be compared with sciences like physics, chemistry or mathematics, because the results are not so exact or precision. But the best fitting comparison with the management science is the medical science.

Mere reading of text books will not make one a great physician or a good surgeon. His theoretical knowledge must be supplemented and perfected by the practical knowledge. To be precise, in case of medical science, both theory and practice are equally important and there is nothing to choose between them so far as the process of learning is concerned.

In the case of management also the application of the principles calls for a high degree of imagination, creativity, aptitude, skill and intelligence on the part of the manager.

Besides, as stated by H. Koontz, it must also be remembered that

art and science are not mutually exclusive fields of endeavor but are complementary.

They are interwoven and overlapping in nature. Hence, there is nothing wrong to conclude that management is an art as well as a science. However, the science of management is still in the evolutionary stage and the management is largely practiced as an art.

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