Meaning and Nature of Management

Meaning of Management

Before going into the details, let us first review the definitions of management given by the experts in the field. Here we have arranged the definitions chronologically, and subsequently we have categorized them into different approaches.

  1. F.W. Taylor (1911), the father of scientific management: ‘Management is the art of knowing what you want to do … in the best and cheapest way.’
  2. R.C. Davis (1951): ‘Management is the function of executive leadership anywhere.’
  3. E.F.L. Brech (1953): ‘Management is concerned with seeing that the job gets done; its tasks all centred on planning and guiding the operations that are going on in the enterprise.’
  4. Peter Drucker (1954), who attempted to narrow the debate: ‘It is a multi­purpose organ that manages a business and manages managers and manages workers and work.’
  5. William Spriegel (1955): ‘Management is that function of an enterprise which concerns itself with the direction and control of various activities to attain the business objectives. Management is essentially an execu­tive function; it deals particularly with the active direction of the human effort…’
  6. Mary Gushing Niles (1956): ‘Good management, or scientific manage­ment, achieves a social objective with the best use of human and mate­rial energy and time and with satisfaction for the participants and the public.’
  7. Lawrence A. Appley (1956), who reinforced the logic further: ‘Manage­ment is the development of people and not the direction of things … Management is personnel administration.’
  8. Stanley Vance (1959): ‘Management is simply the process of decision making and control over action of human beings for the express pur­pose of attaining pre-determined goals.’
  9. Harold Koontz (1961): ‘Management is the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organized groups. It is the art of creating the environment in which people can perform and individuals could cooperate towards attaining of group goals. It is the art of remov­ing blocks to such performance, a way of optimizing efficiency in reach­ing goals.’
  10. John F. Mee (1963): ‘Management is the art of securing maximum re­sults with a minimum of effort so as to secure maximum prosperity and happiness for both employer and employee and give the public the best possible service.’
  11. James L. Lundy (1968): ‘Management is principally the task of plan­ning, coordinating, motivating, and controlling the efforts of others to­wards a specific objective.’
  12. Prof. A. Dasgupta (1969), the father of Indian management education: ‘Management is the creation and control of technological and human environment of an organization in which human skill and capacities of individuals and groups find full scope for their effective use in order to accomplish the objectives for which an enterprise has been set up. It is involved in the relationships of the individual, group, the organization and the environment.’
  13. Dalton E. McFarland (1970): ‘…that process by which managers cre­ate, direct, maintain, and operate purposive organizations through systematic, coordinated, cooperative human effort.’
  14. Theo Haimann and William G. Scott (1970): ‘Management is a social and technical process which utilizes resources, influences human action, and facilitates changes in order to accomplish organizational goals.’
  15. Joseph Massie (1973): ‘… the process by which a cooperative group directs action towards common goals.’
  16. Robert L. Trewatha and M. Gene Newport (1976): ‘…the process of planning, organizing, actuating, and controlling an organization’s op­erations in order to achieve a coordination of the human and material resources essential in the effective and efficient attainment of objec­tives.’
  17. Howard M. Carlisle (1976): ‘…the process by which the elements of a group are integrated, coordinated, and/or utilized so as to effectively and efficiently achieve organizational objective.’
  18. George R. Terry (1977): ‘Management is a distinct process consisting of planning, organizing, actuating, and controlling, performed to deter­mine and accomplish the objectives by the use of people and resources.’


Different Dimensions of Management

On reviewing the definitions, we observe that management basically aims at accomplishing goals and objectives through the efforts of people.

Further review of the definitions reveals that the definition of management has the following different dimensions:

Productivity orientation:

Frederick Winslow Taylor and John F. Mee have pioneered this concept. Their definitions are primarily concerned with increased productivity.

Human relations orientation:

Lawrence A. Appley and Harold Koontz pio­neered this concept. Their definitions of management primarily emphasize on relationships among people.

Decision-making orientation:

Definitions under this category focus on deci­sion making as the primary function of management. Ross Moore and Stanley Vance were the pioneers of this concept.

Leadership orientation:

The proponents of this concept have highlighted leadership as the essence of management. Donald J. Clough and Ralph C. Davis are two pioneers who relate management with leadership.

Process orientation:

Management as a process has been defined by numer­ous authors like James L. Lundy, Dalton E. McFarland, Howard M. Carlisle, E.F.L. Brech, Robert L. Trewatha, M. Gene Newport, and George R. Terry. Till now we have only discussed the different definitions of management and their orientation. Quite obviously, readers might have got confused as to what should be the appropriate definition. It is recommended that the definitions may not be mugged up. Rather, one should try to conceptualize them, so that one’s basic concept is clear.

Management is optimization of constraining resources to achieve some intended goals. ‘Resources’ is a broad term and it encompasses everything that we require as inputs, including knowledge and information inputs. Resources are not available in abundance. There always exist resource constraints. Every organization tries to achieve its charted goals and objectives through efficient management and proper allocation of scarce resources.

Important Characteristics and Features of Management

In the context of various definitions of management and subsequent discussions, we can enumerate important characteristics and features of management as under:

  1. Management is an organized activity.
  2. Management is aligned with organizational objectives.
  3. Management optimizes constraining resources.
  4. Management works with and through people.
  5. Management is decision making.
  6. Management is a science as well as an art.
  7. Management is universal and intangible.
  8. Management is an inter-disciplinary approach.
  9. Management is a social process.
  10. Management is a strategic function.
  11. Management is a profession.

Nature of Management

Human needs are largely satisfied through economic activities of organized groups and associations. In their own interest, people should join together and accomplish common goals through cooperation. However, to be more effective in this pursuit, it is essential that group efforts should be properly organized, directed, and coordinated. In other words, there is a need for management. Therefore, management is as old as civilization or organized life. The systematic study of management, however, has evolved only in the last six or seven decades.

“Management is the creation and control of technological and human environment of an organization in which human skill and capacities of individuals and groups find full scope for their effective use in order to accomplish the objectives for which an enterprise has been set up. It is involved in the relationships of the individual, group, the organization and the environment.”-Prof. A. Dasgupta (1969)

The literature on management has grown at an unprecedented rate in recent times, particularly after World War II. This in turn has greatly helped in improving research, teaching, and practice of management as a branch of study. But such a growth has also given rise to differences of opinion and approach.

So we have the operational school of management thought, the mathematical school, the human behaviour school, the systems school, and the decision-theory school. These divergent views relating to management have made the task of defining management extremely difficult.

Operation­ally, management may be defined as a dynamic process concerned with getting things done through and with the efforts of others by harnessing hu­man and other resources of the institution—business or otherwise—and creating an environment favourable to performance by people for the accomplishment of desired objectives with minimum of unsought consequences.

Today, the efficiency of management distinguishes one organization from the other, as it adds to competitive strength. Different authorities have defined management differently. But irrespective of the differences in approach and environment, the management process is essentially the same in all orga­nized activities and at all levels in an organization.


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