MBA management

The Nature and Purpose of Management

Right from the beginning of the civilization and from the time people began to live in groups, the practice of management had began. As people started forming groups to achieve their goals - even be it, say, for hunting - they quickly realized that managing is necessary to ensure proper coordination of all the individuals in the group. Today, if you look at the society you would realize that the society stands on group effort and hence the importance of management. Management is essential for any organization be it small or big and to profit or not for profit enterprises. This unit essentials of management is to foster excellence within you - the prospective managers.

The Different Views on the Nature of Management

While management has been present for millennia, several writers have created a background of works that assisted in modern management theories.

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"
Written by Chinese general Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC, "The Art of War" is a military strategy book that, for managerial purposes, recommends being aware of and acting on strengths and weaknesses of both a manager's organization and a foe's.

Niccole Machiavelli's "The Prince"
Believing that people were motivated by self-interest, Niccole Machiavelli wrote "The Prince" in 1513 as advice for the leadership of Florence, Italy. Machiavelli recommended that leaders use fear - but not hatred - to maintain control.

Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations"

Written in 1776 by Adam Smith, a Scottish moral philosopher, "The Wealth of Nations" aims for efficient organization of work through specialization of labor. Smith described how changes in processes could boost productivity in the manufacture of pins.

Frederick. W. Taylor
A man with a production background, where efficiency plays an important role, has defined it as the art of knowing what you want to do and seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way.

Stanley Vance
From the point of view of decision making he has defined management as simply a the process of decision making and control over the action of human beings for the expressed purpose of attaining pre-determined goals.

The Growing Importance of Management as a Profession

A close scrutiny of management as a profession reveals that it has a long way to go to have a universal acceptance of management as a profession. Unlike other professions such as medicine, law and engineering the practice of management is not restricted to individuals with a special degree. Anyone can manage and to quote Peter Drucker, "no greater damage could be done to an economy or to any society than to attempt to professionalize management by licensing managers, for instance, or by limiting access to management to people with a special academic degree".

The Skills required by the Manager and its different Requirement in the Organizational hierarchy

The management of a large organization may have three levels:

1. Senior management (or "top management" or "upper management")
2. Middle management
3. Low-level management, such as supervisors or team-leaders
4. Foreman
5. Rank and File

Top-level management

- Requires an extensive knowledge of management roles and skills.

- They have to be aware of external factors such as markets.

- Their decisions are generally of long-term nature.

- Their decisions are made, using analytic, directive, conceptual and/or behavioral/participative processes.

- They are responsible for strategic decisions.

- They have to chalk out the plan and see that plan is effective in the future.

- They are executive in nature.

Middle management

- Mid-level managers have a specialized understanding of certain managerial tasks.

- They are responsible for carrying out the decisions made by top-level management.

Lower management

- This level of management ensures that the decisions and plans taken by the other two are carried out.

- Lower-level managers' decisions are generally short-term ones.

Foreman / lead hand

- They are people who have direct supervision over the working force in office factory, sales field or other workgroup or areas of activity.

Rank and File

- The responsibilities of the persons belonging to this group are even more restricted and more specific than those of the foreman.

Management as Science, Art and a Profession

To enable to answer this, one has to look at the nature of the management. Like all other practices such as engineering, medicine, accountancy, human resources, public relations or even cricket, management is an art. However, managers can be better off by using systematically collected vast body of knowledge. The very existence of the body of knowledge and principles evolved on the basis of constant research, study and examimantion makes it eligible to be called as a science. Managers, like other practitioners learn by trial and error, and for reference they can always turn to the body of knowledge - the basis for their practice. It is this knowledge that makes the management as a science and its practice an art. Nowdays management is also termed as profession.
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Review Questions
  • 1. Discuss the nature of management.
  • 2. "Managers are born and not made". Do you agree? Express your views.
  • 3. Give a detailed account of the different levels of management that are commonly found in any large scale organization. What are the important skills at each level?
  • 4. Describe the importance of management in a developing economy like India with suitable examples.
  • 5. Examine the different roles that manager plays in the organizations as per Mintzberg classification of managerial roles.
  • 6. Imagine you are a practicing manager. Analyze the various skills you have in relation to the level of your jobs.
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