Chief characteristics of Management

The chief characteristic of management is the integration and application of the knowledge and analytical approaches developed by numerous disciplines. The manager’s problem is to seek a balance among these special approaches and to apply the pertinent concepts in specific situations which require action. The manager must be oriented to solving problems with techniques tailored to the situations; yet he must develop a unified framework of thought that encompasses the total and integrated aspects of the entire organization.

What, then, is management, and what does it do? In general usage, the word “management” identifies a special group of people whose job it is to direct the effort and activities of other people toward common objectives. Simply stated, management gets things done through other people. Management is defined as the process by which a cooperative group directs actions towards common goals. This process involves techniques by which a distinguishable group of people (managers) coordinates activities of other people; managers seldom actually perform the activities themselves. This process consists off certain basic functions which provide an analytical approach for studying management.

The concept of management has broadened in scope with the introduction of new perspectives by different fields of study. The study of management has evolved into more than the use of means to accomplish given ends; today it includes moral and ethical questions concerning the selection of the right ends toward which managers should strive.

Harbison and Myers offered a classic threefold concept for emphasizing a broader scope for the viewpoint of management. They observe management as (1) an economic resource, (2) a system of authority, and (3) a class or elite.

1. As viewed by the economist, management is one of the factors of production together with land, labor and capital. As the industrialization of a nation increases, the need for management becomes greater as it is substituted for capital and labor. The managerial resources of a firm determine, in large measure, its productivity and profitability. In those industries experiencing innovations, management must be used more intensively. Executive development, therefore, is more important for those firms in a dynamic industry in which progress is rapid.
2. As viewed by a specialist in administration and organization, management is a system of authority. Historically, management first developed an authoritarian philosophy with a small number of top individuals determining all action of the rank and file. Later, humanitarian concepts cause some managements to develop paternalistic approaches. Still, later, constitutional management emerged, characterized by a concern for definite and consistent policies and procedures for dealing with the working group. As more employees received higher education, the trend of management was toward a democratic and participative approach. Modern management can be viewed as a synthesis of these four approaches to authority.
3. As viewed by sociologists, management is a class and status system. The increase in the complexity of relationships in modern society demands that managers become elite of brains and education. Entrance into this class is based more and more on education and knowledge instead of on family or political connections. Some students view this development as a “managerial revolution” in which the career managerial class obtains increasing amounts of power and threatens to become an autonomous class. Some observes view this development with alarm. Others point out that as the power of mangers increases, their numbers expand so that there is little need to worry about this tendency toward a managerial autocracy. A broad view of management requires that the student consider this larger perspective of the place of management in society.