Is management an art or a science?

Expert Answers
gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People ask that question about management at regular intervals. That's because it is both—but people who think it is just one or the other, or want it to be just one or the other, re-open the question.

It is a science in the sense that there are some established principles, and you can track specific data associated with managing companies successfully.


It is an art in that there is considerable space for individual style and self-expression. If you've had more than one manager, you know that each person's personality colors how he or she manages people.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Management is both an art and a science.  It is an art because you cannot just learn what to do in school or in a book and then be successful.  You can work at it.  You have to use charisma and finesse and humanity.  You have to know how to work with people, and how to get what you want out of them.  Good managers make their people feel welcome and wanted, respected and cared about.  They also get the most out of them.  The science part comes from knowing the tricks and techniques that have proven successful, and being able to apply them to the arts described.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Management is both a science and art, just as light behaves both as a waves and as particles.

Management in twenty-first century appears has become a science with the development and availability of a body of management concepts, models and theories, based on detailed systematic observation and measurement of real life and experimental data to guide managers. Scientific rigor of data analysis and synthesis has been applied to develop many useful management theories and model. These models range from simple economic order quantity formula, through statistical quality control techniques, to the highly sophisticated non linear programming models.

Management also displays the characteristics of an art when manager needs to work with many complex problems involving people in various roles of employee, customer, competitor, business partner, shareholder, and other stake holders. Behavior of all these groups is still not understood completely by behavior sciences, and managers are forced to rely on their subjective judgments and skills in many activities involving them. Also all the data that a manager may like to have may not be available. Further, managers must rely on personal skills and understanding in dealing with people. For example, winning over the co-operation of ones juniors, subordinates and peers will usually require, among other things, skills such as persuasion, negotiation, and empathy.

tonybirch | Student

This is an interesting question and one that rages in the Higher Education sector in the UK. Just take a look at the award titles for Bachelors and Masters degrees from a range of HE institutions and you will see that there is around a 50/50 in BSc/BA or MSc/MA awards!! The water is decidedly muddy!! You could argue that the more 'objective' subjects should be sciences - accounts, finance, operations and the more 'people oriented' would be arts - HR, marketing, OB. Not quite the case as we have a BA Accountancy and a MSc in Organisational Development ;-) If you add in the award of MBA it gets even worse as maybe most of the MBA is of a 'scientific' nature.

I would welcome your comments and views