Special Topics in Management Research Paper Starter

Special Topics in Management

(Research Starters)

This article will focus on special topics in management that cut across management fields and areas of expertise. The special topics of this article, which include human-resource management, information management, crisis management, and issues management within organizations, will be of special interest to students, scholars, and practitioners of management. An overview of the field of management, including the history of management, management careers, and management roles and skills, will be provided and serve as the foundation for the discussion of special topics in management.

Keywords Crisis Management; Human Resources Management; Information Management; Issues Management; Management; Organization

Management: Special Topics in Management


Management refers to the work or act of directing and controlling a group of people within an organization for the purpose of accomplishing shared goals or objectives. People in management positions control and coordinate organizational activities, employees, processes, resources, goals, and objectives in every field and industry. Managers of all kinds work within organizations. The structures of organizations, from financial investment firms to industrial production facilities to colleges and universities to hospitals and medical facilities, have similarities in areas such as established work flow, clear leadership, and shared objectives. The study of management reveals that managers in all industries must handle employees, information, change, crisis, and ethical issues. Special topics in the study of management reveal what unites managers in their work and what issues unite the field of management studies.

The following sections — history of management, management careers, and management roles and functions — will serve as the foundation for a discussion of the management issues of human-resource management, information management, crisis management, and issues management that cut across all fields and industries. These special topics may be of critical interest to all those concerned with the effective management of people, information, material resources, time, and money.

The History of Management

The focused study of management began during the late 19th century in an effort to increase the efficiency of the labor force. The Industrial Revolution, a period characterized by the adoption of large-scale factory production, changed labor practices throughout the world. The creation of large-scale production facilities necessitated the creation of the role of manager to coordinate the efforts and labors of large groups of people.

The study of management during the late 19th to mid-20th century was conceived of as an applied science intended to increase worker and organizational efficiency. Classics in the study of management include Frederick Taylor's scientific management, Henri Fayol's theories of administration and labor, Max Weber's classical organization theory and bureaucracy model, the Hawthorne studies' human-relations model, Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y, and Abraham Maslow's model of hierarchy of human needs.

Management, as defined and understood by classical management theorists such as Fayol and Taylor, leads, enforces, and plans in the interest of efficiency and profit. Fayol, along with Taylor and other classical management theorists, developed a deeply entrenched theory, approach, and practice of management appropriate for hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations. Classic management, as defined by Fayol, consists of five main functions, roles, or actions:

  • Planning: forecasting, strategizing, and deciding what needs to happen in the future.
  • Organizing: making efficient use of human and material resources.
  • Leading: motivating, commanding, and exhibiting skills to inspire and lead employees.
  • Coordinating: unifying and harmonizing all organizational activity and effort.
  • Controlling: monitoring and checking employee performance for conformity and uniformity.

The study and practice of management from 1960 to 1990 was characterized by psychologically focused management strategies such as the management grid and job-enrichment programs. Management theory, practice, and scholarship since 1990 has been characterized by a focus on issues of leadership, group dynamics, and employee motivation. Managers in modern organizations must respond to new technologies, new organizational models, the economic forces of globalization, and increased diversity in the workforce (Zuidema, 1994).

Management: Functions, Roles,

The field of management includes numerous areas of expertise and influence. Managers work in business, industry, education, and social-service organizations. Examples of management occupations, as described by the US Department of Labor, include the following:

  • Administrative services managers
  • Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Construction managers
  • Education administrators
  • Engineering and natural sciences managers
  • Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers
  • Financial managers
  • Food service managers
  • Funeral directors
  • Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists
  • Industrial production managers
  • Lodging managers
  • Medical and health services managers
  • Property, real estate, and community association managers
  • Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents
  • Top executives (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006)

What is a manager's job? While the exact skill set required of a manager varies by industry, there are similarities in designated managerial functions, roles, and skills. Management theory, as described in the previous section, was first defined in the early 1900s. Classic theories and approaches to management continue to influence both management curriculum and practice.

As described by Henri Fayol's 14 principles of management, first published in General and Industrial Management (1917), classical management theory of the 20th century was characterized by proscribed rules, expectations, demeanor, and values as described below:

  • Division of work: specialization of work and labor will increase personal and organizational productivity.
  • Authority: management has the right to give orders and the power to expect obedience.
  • Discipline: employees must obey, and management must provide good leadership.
  • Unity of command: each employee has only one boss, with no challenges to lines of reporting and command.
  • Unity of direction: workers engaged in the same activities must receive the same direction and objectives.
  • Subordination of individual interests: workers and managers must work for and toward the goals of the organization.
  • Remuneration: payment for services is required for reasons of ethics and motivation.
  • Centralization: management functions are generally centralized and consolidated at one level of the organization.
  • Chain of authority: a formal and hierarchical chain of command should structure the organization.
  • Order: formal organization of material and human (or personnel) resources is required.
  • Equity: employees of an organization should receive equitable treatment.
  • Personnel tenure: stability of employment and limited turnover of personnel strengthen an organization.
  • Initiative: employees should be allowed opportunities to demonstrate initiative within the organization.
  • Esprit de corps: morale, harmony, and cohesion should be facilitated and encouraged within the organization.

While modern approaches to management still include these 14 principles, they also require the ability to manage change, information, and organizational values. Modern management, particularly in information technology (IT) and service sector fields, is characterized by adaptability,...

(The entire section is 3662 words.)