Concept of Management In Detail
The study of a discipline should start with its definition delineating properly its contents and characteristics, defining its scope and boundary, and prescribing the objectives for which it stands, from this point of view, we can proceed only when we define management. However, a precise definition of management is not so simple because the term management is used in a variety of ways. Being a new discipline it has drawn concepts and principles from a number of disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, statistics and so on. The result is that each group of contributors has treated management differently. For example, economists have treated management as a factor of production; sociologists have treated it as a class or group of persons; practitioners have treated it as a process comprising different activities. Naturally, all these divergent groups view the nature and scope of management from their own point of view. Thus, taking all these points of view together, it becomes difficult to define management in a comprehensive way to understand of concept of management.
In the present context, the term management is used in three alternative ways:
Management as a discipline,
Management as a group of people, and
Management as a process.
Management as a Discipline
Discipline refers to a field of study having well-defined concepts and principles. When we refer to management as a discipline, we include in it the various relevant concepts and principles, the knowledge of which aids in managing. From this point of view, management can be treated either as an art or science, the two basic and broad disciplines. However, since management prescribes various principles and how these principles can be applied in managing an organisation, it has the orientation of both, science and art, a phenomenon which will be discussed concept of management.
Management as a Group of People
Sometimes, we refer to management as a group of people in which we include all those personnel who perform managerial functions in organisations. For example, when we talk about relationship between management and labor in an organisation, we refer to two distinct classes or groups of personnel in the first category, we include all those persons who are responsible for managerial organisation. In functions and in the second category, we include non-managerial personnel. This concept of management approach of using management is quite popular; however, it does not serve our purpose of defining the term management.
Management as a Process
In studying management discipline, we generally refer to management as a process. A process can simply be defined as systematic method of handling activities. However, the management process can be treated as a complex one which can be referred to as an identifiable flow of information through interrelated stages of analysis directed towards the achievement of an objective or set of objectives. It is a concept of dynamic rather than static existence in which events and relationships must be seen as dynamic, continuous, and flexible, and as such, must be considered as a whole. Thus, management as a process includes various activities and sub activities. However, what these activities are must be defined precisely to understand the exact nature and scope of management. In a simple way, we can define management as what managers do. However, this definition, though simple, suffers from two limitations:
- There is a problem in identifying the people in the organisation who can be called as managers because there is no uniformity in the titles given to the people. For example, people may be called as president, chief executive or managing director at the top level. Similarly at the middle level, they can be called as executive or accountant, and at lower level as supervisor. Therefore, it becomes difficult to identify who is a manager and who is not; whose activities should be treated as managerial and whose activities as non-managerial. Thus, what should be studied is not clear.
- Even if the problem of identifying people as managers is solved, the problem of identifying managerial activities still exists because people known as managers may perform different kinds of activities, some of which may not really be managerial. Therefore, unless some yardsticks are prescribed to distinguish between managerial and non-managerial activities, managerial activities cannot be identified.
In order to overcome these limitations, the total activities of an organisation can be divided into two groups: operational and managerial. Those activities which are of operative nature through which actual work is accomplished such as handling a machine by workers, putting the materials into go down, etc., are called operational activities. As against this, some activities are performed to get things done like a supervisor instructing a worker to do a particular job, or marketing manager instructing his salesmen to contact the customers to sell the product, etc. Such activities are different from the first group and are known as managerial activities. Thus, management can be defined as the process of getting things done by others. Management is invariably defined as the process of ‘getting things done through the efforts of others’, ‘getting from where we are to where we want to be with the least expenditure of time, money, and efforts’, or ‘coordinating individual and group efforts toward superordinate goals’. Though these definitions of management as process use different terms, all of them convey the same set of meanings in their final analysis. However, the problem of defining management as a process is not over because of the existence of different approaches in this context too. Historically, four such orientations have been adopted in defining management process:
Production or efficiency oriented,
Production or Efficiency-oriented Definitions.
Those who have put forward the concept of management as a source of efficiency in organisation have viewed that management is concerned with generating efficiency in organisational settings. For example, in an early stage of development of management, Taylor has defined management as follows:
“Management is the art of knowing what you want to do and then seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way.”
In a similar way, John Mee has defined management in terms of securing maximum results when he views that:
“Management is the art of securing maximum results with minimum effort so as to secure maximum prosperity and happiness for both employer and employee and give the public the best possible service.”
Both these definitions emphasis on relationship between efforts and results as the objectives of management but do not specify how these objectives can be achieved. To that extent, these definitions do not offer exact explanation of the nature of management and concept of management.
Decision-oriented definitions of management have been provided by decision theorists who have seen management process in terms of decision making. For example, Peter Drucker, a noted management thinker, has viewed that the life of a manager is a perpetual decision-making activity. Whatever a manager does, he does only through decision-making. Decision-making power provides a dynamic force for managers to transform the resources of business organisations into a productive, cooperative concern. These decision theorists have emphasized the role of decision making in management to such an extent that one of them has viewed that “management means decision making.” A more formal decision-oriented definition of management has been provided by Stanley Vance as follows:
“Management is simply the process of decision making and control over the action of human beings for the expressed purpose of attaining predetermined goals.”
The decision-oriented definition of management indicates that the basic activity of a manager is to make decisions and enforce these decisions. However, this does not provide the processes in which context decision making is applied.
In this group of definitions, management is defined as a process of coordination efforts of people in organisations. Various authors have emphasized the role of people in the organisations. They have viewed that management is the direction of people and not of things; management is personnel management; and so on. Lawrence Appley has called management as personnel management and has defined it as follows:
“Management is the accomplishment of results through the efforts of other people”.
Koontz has defined management in similar way when he says that:
“Management is the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups”.
These definitions, no doubt, offer better explanations of the nature of management though these do not specify the functions or activities involved in the process of getting things done by or with the cooperation of other people.
These definitions put emphasis on the various functions performed by managers in organisations though there is no uniformity in these functions in different definitions. For example, McFarland states that:
“Management is defined for conceptual, theoretical, and analytical purposes as that process by which managers create, direct, maintain and operate purpose organisations through systematic, coordinated, cooperative human efforts.”
Henry Fayol, an early management thinker, has elaborated these functions more precisely when he defined management as follows:
“To manage is to forecast and to plan, to organised, to coordinate and to control”.
Function-oriented definitions of management are more relevant for understanding the exact nature and scope of management in spite of the fact there is no unanimity over various functions. From this point of view, we can define management as follows:
“Management is a process involving planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling human efforts to achieve stated objectives in an organisation”.