Is Management an Art or Science

  • Post last modified:12 May 2022
  • Reading time:18 mins read

Since time immemorial, it has been argued by different scholars whether management is a science or an art. Different viewpoints have been given by management experts on the nature of management. Let us discuss how management can be considered as a science as well as an art.

Management as a Science

Management can be considered as a science as it:

Involves the application of systematic methods

Science, in general terms, refers to a laboratory, chemicals and experiments. Webster’s college dictionary has termed science as a method, process or skill which reflects the explicit application of principles or facts. Thus, management is also called science as it involves the application of systematic methods of enquiry and analysis of information to take critical business decisions.

Has its own principles

Management has its own principles that can be applied everywhere. For instance, the principle of division of work and specialisation can be used anywhere. According to this principle, if the same work is given to a person repeatedly, they gain expertise in that work.

Is rational and has objective methods

Management experts who believe in management as a science state that there are ideal managerial practices for particular situations. In addition, they believe that there is a rational and objective way of determining the appropriate course of action. These experts also advocate that managers need to follow general principles and theories as well as form and test hypotheses to solve a particular problem.

For example, if there is a problem of poor work performance of an employee, specific means of performance improvement would be adopted like training programs and one-to-one interaction.

However, it should be noted that management is not like natural or exact science but is more like a behavioural science. This is because incase of natural science, it is possible to study the effects of any of the factors affecting a phenomenon by keeping other factors constant.

For instance, to study the effect of heat on the density of air, other factors such as humidity can be kept constant for a particular time. However, it is not possible in case of management as it involves the study of individuals.

For example, it is not possible to study the effect of monetary incentives on employees’ productivity. This is because productivity is an effect of various factors like motivation, pressure, targets, leadership, etc. Therefore, management is regarded more as a behavioural science rather than a natural science.


Management as an Art

Art is defined as a system of doing something in an organised manner. Management is considered to be an art because it helps in understanding how some work has to be performed. It attempts to get things done through others in dynamic situations. Management frequently relies on a set of theories and principles to find out solutions to various problems. Management is an art as:

Management skill is the outcome of an individual’s personality

Understanding how a particular work can be accomplished is an art. Management experts who believe that management is an art advocate that there is no specific way to learn management. According to them, management is a skill that comes from an individual’s personality and ability. Thus, it is said that managers are born, not made.

Individuals use own experiences and judgements to solve problems

Believers of management as an art postulate that in order to decide a course of action, managers, apart from using their own knowledge, should also rely on the social and political environment. Let us consider the example given in the case of management as a science where there was a problem of an employee’s poor work performance. As per the art perspective, this problem can be solved by managers by relying on their own experiences and judgements.


Management as a Profession

Gone are the days when business owners used to manage organisations themselves and there was no difference between the ownership and management of organisations. With a remarkable growth in operations and scale at which organisations work, management has emerged as a separate profession.

But management as a profession is yet to be recognised and accepted widely. Therefore, it can be said that, although management has started to gain acceptance as a profession, it is not fully accepted.

Profession refers to any formal occupation which requires specialised education, training and skills. And, professionals are the people who use their specialised knowledge and skills to perform certain activities that directly or indirectly help an organisation in achieving its goals.

Based on these definitions, it can be said that management is a profession and managers are professionals. Another important feature of a profession is that it is regulated by a professional and recognised body.

For instance, Charted Accountancy is a profession and requires specialised knowledge and training. Also, the CA profession is regulated by the ICAI.

Some of the globally recognised requirements related to a profession that are present in management are as follows:

Specialised body of knowledge

For a field of occupation to be considered as a profession, there must lie an expansive body of knowledge and information. In case of management, there already exists a wide and ever-expanding body of knowledge.

This knowledge has been transformed into a systematic body of knowledge and is used by managers frequently. Professional management courses are also offered in universities across the world.

Skilled application

It is also essential that the professionals are able to apply their knowledge and training wisely to provide solutions for complex problems. This becomes possible only when the professionals are given proper education and training in the given field. For managerial positions, organisations usually prefer to employ people holding MBA degree or any equivalent degree.

Professional regulating body

For a profession, it is essential that the entry into the profession is regulated by a professional body. A professional body is usually responsible for laying down standards of education and training for people pursuing the concerned profession. In India, in case of management, bodies such as Indian Management Association (IMA) and the All India Management Association (AIMA) have been set up.

However, these bodies have not been given any legal authority to lay down the standards of education and training for people employed at managerial posts. Also, these bodies do not have any authority to regulate the conduct of managers.

Self-control

The members of the professional body are also required to adhere to the code of conduct established by the professional body. Although AIMA has developed the code of conduct for managers, it does not have any authority to ensure its adherence.

Social responsibility

The professionals must be motivated and willing to serve others and the community. Nowadays, managers are able to recognise their social responsibilities with respect to different stakeholders, such as customers, workers and other groups.

Societal approval

The occupation must be recognised as a profession by society. People working as managers are regarded and respected in society which is an indication that the community approves management as a profession.


Management Experts Viewpoints on Management as an Art

Some renowned management experts have given their viewpoints on management as an art as follows:

Henry Mintzberg

He is the most noticeable advocate of the thought that management is an art. He stated that management is an art as managers do not necessarily have routine behaviour, instead they use their own social and political skills to solve problems and determine an appropriate course of action.

David E. Lilienthal

He presented his view on management as an art in his series of lectures tilted ‘Management: A Humanist Art’ published in 1967. According to him, managers are artists as they need to respond differently to different employees and motivate them in order to get the work done.

Peter F. Drucker

He termed management as a liberal art as it involves the practice and application of knowledge, wisdom and leadership. He rejects the view that management involves established facts. This is because management practices change with changes in the business environment.


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