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A Terminology Between Management And Administration

Management And Administration: A Terminology Conflicts

Before we proceed further to analyse the nature of management, it is desirable to resolve the terminological conflict between management and administration as there is often a terminological conflict between the two. Some authors suggest that there is no fundamental difference between management and administration, whatever difference between the two exists, it exists only in terms of their usage in different walks of life.Other authors suggest that these two terms are different and involve different sets of activities. Therefore, resolution of this conflict is necessary.

At the initial level of development of management thought, no distinction was made between management and administration and both the terms were used interchangeably. In 1923, the terminological conflict between the two terms was raised by Oliver Sheldon in his book “The Philosophy of Management’ when he emphasized administration as decision-making function and management as execution function. After that, this distinction between the two terms was emphasized by many and the terminological conflict proceeded further. Various views expressed in this regard have led to the emergence of three approaches:

  1. Administration is above management;
  2. Administration is a part of management; and
  3. Management and administration are same.

Administration Is Above Management

According to many classical thinkers, administration is above management so far as different functions in the organisation are concerned. They perceive that both administration and management activities are different though both of them may be performed by a single individual in an organisation. Prominent among them are Oliver Sheldon, William Spriegal, Milward, Lansberg, Ordway Tead, Florence, etc. The general view is that administration relates to policy formulation and manage ment relates to policy execution and these two activities are not the same. For example, Spriegal states that:

“Administration is that phase of a business enterprise that concerns itself with the overall determination of institutional objectives and the policies necessary to be followed in achieving those objectives. Management, on the other hand, is an executive function which is primarily concerned with carrying out broad policies laid down by the administration.”

Similar view has been expressed by Milward when he states that:

“Administration is primarily the process and agency used to establish the objective or purpose which an undertaking and its staff are to achieve; secondly, administration has to plan and to stabilize the broad lines or principles which will govern action. These broad lines are usually called policies. Management process and agency through which execution of policy is planned and super the vised.”

This phenomenon has been shown by Figure below.

Function in organisation


The basic approach of these authors is that administration determines the basic framework of the organisation within which managerial functions are undertaken. Since these sets of functions are different, different types of persons with different sets of qualities are required. Based on this approach, various authors have suggested the difference between administration and management as shown in Table below also.

Difference between administration and management

Basic Of Difference Administration Management
01. Level in organisation Top level Middle and junior level
02. Major focus Policy formulation and objective determination Policy execution for objective achievement
03. Nature of function Determination Executives
04. Scope of function Broad and conceptual Narrow and operational
05. Factors affecting decisions Mostly external Most internal
06. Employer-employee relation Entrepreneurs and owners Employees
07. Qualities required Administrative Technical

The classical authors on management appear to be influenced by the fact that administrative process in non-business activities was well developed as compared to management. It can be seen in the next chapter that most of the early contributors to management thought studied managerial process in the business organisations comparatively at lower levels whose primary responsibility was to execute what was decided by higher-level management.

Therefore, they could perceive the functions of management as limited to lower levels only. The only exception came from Henry Fayol who studied the entire management functions and never distinguished between management and administration.

Administration Is A Part Of Management

There is another school of thought which treats management as more comprehensive function which includes administration also. For example, Brech has viewed management and administration in the following way:

“Management is a generic name for the total process of executive control in industry or commerce. It is a social process entailing responsibility for the effective and economical planning and regulation of the operation of an enterprise, in the fulfillment of a given purpose or task. Administration is that part of management which is concerned with the installation and carrying out of the procedures by which it is laid down and communicated, and the process of activities regulated and checked against plans”.

If this view is accepted, administration becomes a subordinate function to overall management functions. From this point of view, administration is concerned with day-to-day function and is a part of management. According to this approach, the previous analysis, that is, administration is above management, stands completely reversed.

Management And Administration Are Same

According to the third approach which is the most popular and practical one, management and administration are same. Both involve the same functions, principles and objectives. For example, while speaking at the Second International Congress of Administrative Science, Fayol, one of the most important early thinkers on management thought, has said, “all undertakings require planning, organisation, command, coordination and control, and in order to function properly, all must observe the same general principles.

We are no longer confronted with several administrative sciences but with one which can be applied equally well to public and private affairs.” Thus there is no difference in A terminology between management and administration. For example, McFarland, who made distinction between management and administration in an earlier edition of his book, revised his stand and viewed that it is difficult to make distinction between management and administration; both are similar to each other.

Thus, A terminology between management and administration are synonymous; the difference between the two terms lies mostly in their usage in different countries or different fields of human organisations. For example, Lepawsky has made observation that:

“The British conception seems to be the general European usage in which management is given a broader meaning than administration. In American usage, administration includes management and organisation.”

The distinction between the two terms may be drawn by analyzing the origin of the word administration. Its origin is found in the bureaucratic structure of government or in regulation of some laws. The government often uses the word administrator, instead of manager, to handle and manage its affairs. In law also, administrators are appointed to look after the estate of a deceased person while handling the government affairs, administrators are to execute the broad policies laid down by the government, though they may also participate in policy formulation.

Similarly, the estate administrators keep intact the property and manage the estate according to some specific mandates of law. On the other hand, management is normally used in business sphere. However, whether administration is used in non-business fields and management is used in business field does not make a fundamental distinction between the two because of similarity of the process involved in these. In fact, even this distinction is also disappearing.

For example, many authors have written books under the title “Business Administration” which implies that these books would be used by persons acquiring knowledge to be utilized in handling business affairs. Similarly, many institutions offering management courses offer M.B.A. degrees for their management graduates while others offer M.B.M. degrees for the similar type of students. Thus, in practice, the difference between the two is disappearing fast.

The basic point of controversy or A terminology between management and administration lies in terms of coverage of activities. The controversy arises because people call the various level management functions differently. For example, the contents of management functions in terms of policy formulation and execution can be presented as follows. Some call the formulation function as administration, others call it management however both are management functions, as shown in Figure below.


It may be suggested that two sets of people may not be required to perform two A terminology between management and administration. Everyone performs all managerial functions, only relative importance of these functions varies. The content of policy formulation higher at higher levels, it is lower at lower levels while execution is otherwise. Therefore, it becomes unimportant whether policy formulation function is known as administration or management. This is the reason why most of the contemporary authors try to avoid this age-old controversy.

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