What can students of management gain from Humanities?

Let’s briefly look at the discipline in popular humanities and social science courses that directly affect management practices.

Anthropology: Anthropology is the study of societies which helps us learn about human beings and their activities. Anthropologists’ work on cultures and environments, for instance, has helped managers to better understand differences in fundamental values, attitudes and behavior between people in different countries and within different countries and within different organizations.

Economics: Economics is concerned with the allocation and distribution of scarce resources. It provides us with an understanding of the changing economy as well as the role of competition and free markets in a global context. For example, why are most athletic shoes made in Asia? Or why does Mexico now have more automobile plants than Detroit? Economists provide the answer to these questions when they discuss comparative advantage. Similarly, an understanding of free trade and protectionist policies is absolutely essential to any manager operating in the global market place, and these topics are addressed by economists.

Philosophy: Philosophy courses inquire into the nature of things, particularly values and ethics. Ethics are standards that govern human conduct. Ethical concerns go directly to the existence of organizations and what constitutes proper behavior within them. For instance, the liberty ethic (John Locke) proposes that freedom, equality, justice, and private property are legal rights; the Protestant ethic (John Calvin) encourages individuals to be frugal, work hard, and attain success; and the market ethic (Adam Smith) argues that the market and competition not government, should be the sole regulators of economic activity. These ethics have shaped today’s organizations by providing a basis for legitimate authority, linking rewards to performance and justifying the existence of business and the corporate form.

Political Science: Political science is the study of the behavior of individual and groups within a political environment. Specific topics of concern to political scientists include structuring of conflict, allocating power, and manipulating power for individual self interest.

Capitalism is just one economic system. The economies of the former Soviet Union and much of Eastern Europe, for example were based on socialists concepts. Planned economies were not free markets; rather, governments owned of the goods producing businesses. And organizational decision makers essentially carried out the dictates of government policies. Efficiency had little meaning in such economies, and most of the basis industries experienced no competition because they were government controlled. In many cases, effectiveness was defined by how many people a plant employed rather than by basic financial criteria.

Management is affected by a nation’s form of government by whether it allows its citizens to hold property, by its citizens’ ability to engage in and enforce contracts, and by the appeal mechanisms available to redress grievances. In a democracy, for instance, people typically have the right to private property, the freedom to enter or not enter into contracts, and an appeal system for justice. A nation’s stand on property, contracts, and justice, in turn, shapes the type form, and policies of its organizations.

Psychology: Psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain and sometimes change the behavior of humans and other animals. Psychologists concern themselves with studying and attempting to understand individual behavior. The field pf psychology is leading the way in providing managers with insights into human. Today’s managers confront both a diverse customer base and a diverse set of employees. Psychologists efforts to understand gender and cultural diversity provide managers with a better perception of the needs of their changing customer and employee populations. Psychology courses are also relevant to managers in terms of gaining a better understanding of motivation, leadership, trust, employee selection, performance appraisals, and training techniques.

Sociology: Sociology is the study of people in relation to their fellow human beings. What are some of the sociological issues that have relevance to managers? Here are a few. How are societal changes such as globalization, increasing cultural diversity, changing gender roles, and varying forms of family life affecting organizational practices? What are the implications of schooling practices and education trends on future employees’ skills and abilities? How are changing demographic altering customer and employment markets? What ills the information age society look like 10 years from now? Answers to questions such as these have a major effect on how managers operate their businesses.

A Concluding Remark:

There is a need to integrate the college courses taken, because what you learn in humanities and social science courses can assist you in becoming better prepared to manage in today’s dynamic marketplace.