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To what extent is the study of Management scientific

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Introduction

Student No. 0303894 To what extent is the study of Management scientific? If it is not a science, then what is it? Introduction It is broadly agreed that certain aspects of management study are perfectly scientific, for example computer and mathematical solutions to management problems subject to quantitative constraints. This essay however, is mainly concerned with management study within an organisational behaviour context; it argues that many theories outlining human responses to management policy are unscientific, and those which do follow scientific methodology produce results with limited applications. The aims of management study will firstly be discussed, with a consideration of what constitutes scientific research, and how a scientific nature helps achieve these aims. A management policy which aims to scientifically measure the success of management strategies will then be evaluated. The main body of the essay evaluates two types of management approaches, those which focus on productivity levels and the formal organisation, and those which take a more holistic view by taking into account human factors and the informal organisation as well. Finally, a case study known as the 'Hawthorne research' has been used to support the assertions made above, as the findings relate to both scientific and observational studies. The study of management The development of management theory began in the late nineteenth century, with the emergence of large industrial organisations, and the ensuing problems associated with their structure and management. It was hoped that the management theories devised would be able to improve organisational functioning whilst improving the quality of life of those who work in organisations (Mullins, 1999:52). ...read more.

Middle

As such sources of power are not codified and might not be identified by research; the informal organisation introduces an area of uncertainty into management study. This could potentially lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn about the causes of problems within an organisation. The human relations approach: Research into the impact of human factors in organisations This highlights a common fundamental problem which exists for all of the aforementioned scientific management strategies; they fail to take into account human factors. However, in the long run, human factors such as employee turnover and motivation have a significant impact on the profitability of firms. "Many operational problems in organisations relate to the nature of human behaviour...and do not lend themselves to the application of a scientific answer" (Mullins, 1999:76). It is therefore often difficult to establish causal relationships between individual aspects of management strategy and human behaviour. Successful management relies on intuition, intelligence, personality and experience, yet these attributes are difficult to pass on to other individuals, and they are often difficult to measure objectively. This clouds the issue of what makes a successful manager, we cannot stipulate that a certain personality type or level of intelligence is necessary to be successful; managers may posses a combination of traits, paired with skills and techniques which can be measured more objectively. This concept that managers come as a 'package' (i.e. their many characteristics are inseparable) further prevents scientific causal analysis of successful management styles. The people skills of managers can be difficult to measure scientifically, yet they are important in determining managers' success within organisations. For example Likert (1961) ...read more.

Conclusion

Another problem that prevents generalisation is the subjective nature of the counsellor's reports, and the leeway which counsellors have when counselling workers. The reported success of counselling upon an individual is mainly monitored by the counsellor in question. This is a subjective observation; it is highly dependent on the interpretation of the counsellor and may be over-stated in order to achieve career progression. Thus the human relations approach provides limited scientific conclusions (i.e. the proving of hypotheses), yet the qualitative data yielded by the counselling study still aids our understanding of the role of human factors in organisations. This supports the concept that the study of management techniques isn't always scientific in nature, and that quantitative findings from scientific research are often of less use than qualitative information from case studies. Conclusion In conclusion, the study of management comprises of many research techniques, some of which are scientific and others not. Certain areas of study do not lend themselves to the application of scientific research techniques, and where scientific methods have been applied, results are often inconclusive. In this case, managers may find qualitative findings from research (such as the research into the Hawthorne counselling project) more relevant to the problems they face depending on whether their organisation is sufficiently similar to the organisation that was studied. It must also be acknowledged that the nature of work has been gradually changing from large numbers of manufacturing jobs to managerial, professional and service sector jobs, which do not produce tangible output (preventing scientific study of productivity). This suggests that the scientific approach to management study is, to an extent, outdated; and qualitative research on interpersonal relationships is increasingly relevant to modern management study. ...read more.

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