is management a science or art?

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Is management a science or an art? This question has been debated for nearly a century. The debate arose primarily because of the use of the title "Scientific Management" for the techniques of management developed and promoted by F.W. Taylor, who is often called the father of Scientific Management.

However, the phrase scientific management as used for the kind of management techniques developed by Taylor, did not imply that the processes of management are governed by clearly definable and unalterable scientific laws, and that the work of management can be designed and carried out scientifically in a way similar to design and operation of physical systems. The use of the word "scientific was intended only to emphasize the need for systematic study and analysis of facts related to the work being managed, as is done done scientific investigation of physical phenomenon.

Thus we can say that there are many aspects of management which can be understood by scientific or systematic collection  and analysis of facts. Further, the insights so developed can be documented in the form of reliable and useful laws. Such documentation of management insight has, over a period, built up a reservoir of theoretical knowledge, that we normally associated with knowledge of scientific subjects. Surely, the theoretical knowledge of management is not as precise and fail proof as are some scientific laws of the physical world. But then there are many other sciences, including the entire fields of medical sciences, and behavioral sciences that are far from being precise or infallible in all their predictions. That does not put a question mark on their status as science. I see no reason, then, why the theoretical knowledge of management established using scientific method cannot be accepted as scientific knowledge.

However the discussion in above paragraph does not imply that Management is a pure science and no art.I believe management should be considered an inseparable mixture of art and science. There are many aspects of management which are not understandable by the available scientific knowledge of management. Therefore, managers need to exercise their personal understanding and skills to management effectively. These skills include among other things varying degree of vision, interpersonal skills including things like empathy and leadership qualities, innovation ability, and hunch. All these thing definitely qualify more as art than science.

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