Management Science Perspective

World War II caused many management changes. The massive and complicated problems associated with modern global warfare presented managerial decision makers with the need for more sophisticated tools than ever before. The management science perspective emerged to address those problems. This view is distinguished for its application of mathematics, statistics and other quantitative techniques to management decision making and problem solving. During World War II groups of mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists were formed to solve military problems. Because those problems frequently involved moving massive amounts of materials and large numbers of people quickly and efficiently the techniques had obvious applications to large scale business firms.

Operations research grew directly out of the World War II groups (called operational research teams in Great Britain and operations research teams in the United States). It consists of mathematical model building and other applications of quantitative techniques to managerial problems.

Operations management refers to the field of management that specializes in the physical production of goods or services. Operations management specialists use quantitative techniques to solve manufacturing problems. Some of the commonly used methods are forecasting, inventory, modeling, linear and nonlinear programming, queuing theory, scheduling, simulation and break even analysis.

Information technology (IT) is the most recent subfield of the management science perspective which is often reflected in management information systems. These systems are designed to provide relevant information to managers in a timely and cost efficient manner. More recently information technology within organizations has evolved to include intranets and extranets as well as various software programs that help managers estimate costs, plan and track production, mange projects, allocate resources, or schedule employees. When Weyerhaeuser Company’s door factory implemented an intranet combined with software to track inventory, calculate estimates, schedule production and automate overtaking., it was applying management science to cut both manufacturing costs and production time. Most of today’s organizations have departments of information technology specialists to help them apply management science techniques to complex organizational problems.

Recent Historical Trends

Management is by nature complex and dynamic. Elements of each of the perspective we have discussed are still in use today. The most prevalent is the humanistic perspective but even it has been undergoing change in recent years. Three recent trends that grew out of the humanistic perspective are systems theory the contingency view, and total quality management.

Systems theory >>>


A set of interrelated parts that function as a whole to achieve a common purpose.

An extension of the humanistic perspective that describes organizations as open systems that are characterized by entropy, synergy, and subsystem interdependence.

A system is a set of interrelated parts that function as a whole to achieve a common purpose. A system functions by acquiring inputs from the external environment transforming them in some ways and discharging outputs back of the environment. Exhibit shows the basic systems theory of organizations. Here there are five components: inputs, a transformation process, outputs, feedback and the environment. Inputs are the material, human, financial or information resources used to produced goods or service. The transformation process is management’s use of production technology to change the inputs into outputs. Outputs include the organization’s products and services. Feedback is knowledge of the results that influence the selection of inputs during the next cycle of the process. The environment surrounding the organization includes the social, political and economic forces noted earlier in this article.

Some ideas in system theory have had substantial impact on management thinking, This include open and closed systems, entropy, synergy, and subsystem interdependencies.

Open systems:

A system that interacts with the external environment

Closed Systems:

A system that does not interact with the external environment

Open systems must interact with the environment to survive; closed systems need not. In the classical and management science perspectives, organizations were frequently thought of as closed systems. In the management science, perspective, closed system assumptions – the absence of external disturbances are sometimes used to simplify problems for quantitative analysis. In reality however, all organizations are open systems, and the cost of ignoring the environment may be failure.

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