Changes in the Management field

Increasingly, managers must understand their role under conditions of rapid change. In certain situations they will find themselves facing conditions that change as a result of forces outside their own control; they must in these situations learn to adjust to new development. On the other hand, they will find that their role in society is to promote change and to create progress; they thus are involved in initiating and directing change. Modern society offers numerous opportunities that require either adjustment or creation or both.

Change is one of the most characteristic features of management. Leadership can be seen as an attempt to implement change. Thus change is not new. What is new to managers is the recognition of the complexity and inescapability of change. What are some of the significant changes in the management field?

Changes in knowledge, Information and techniques

In the last part of the nineteenth century the concepts and language were unknown to the manager of a small factory. The technical aspect of the management field has advanced greatly and will probably continue in its contribution to the engineering type problems of the future.

The growth and use of economic concepts were features of the development of management in the first half of the twentieth century. Cost effectiveness studies developed not only in private firms but also in governmental and nonprofit organizations.

The field that received most attention during the last two decades has been the behavioral sciences. The marketing managers, controller, quality inspector, personnel director must interact with others; they must try to coordinate the efforts of people in performing the operations of the firm. Wherever a manager must relate with other persons, some aspect of behavioral science comes into play. The behavioral science applications to the management field have had top priority in the programs of management in the past; however expectations should be abnormally high. Machines are usually more predictable than people, and the advances in the technical areas of management over the past 100 years will not be so easily matched in the behavioral field. Even when scientists can identify the significant factors in individuals, groups, or societies, the relative weight of the factors constantly changes. Group identification and belongingness may be important in one period but not in another. People and their environment continually change, and the difficulties facing the behavioral scientists are great. Perhaps all that can be expected for the next few decades is a better understanding of the problem rather than a specific model which improves the predictability and control of behavior.

There was a time when the field of management spoke primarily to the managers of industrial plants. Because the dominant problems of the factory system were production, the men who joined together were engineering types. The early journals, professional associations, research, publications, and participants from the universities and colleges were oriented toward technical problems and solutions. Recently managers in the public sector, managers of educational institutions, medical clinics, employment agencies, consulting firms, and staff units of religious organizations have found that they have many common problems. Thus the application of management concepts and techniques to varied types of organizations spreads and will continue to spread as the make up of organizations changes.

The broadening of the scope of management should bring greater demand for specialization of the application of management knowledge. There will be more research studies dealing with the management of organizations concerned with poverty, voluntary groups, political units, etc. The early statements about the universality of management will find expression in specific applications and interpretations of insights in differing new contexts.

The increased scope of management has been accompanied by new social pressures to increase the utilization of groups previously under represented on the management team. Affirmative action programs are now directed toward improving the opportunities of minority racial groups. In the 1970s, management recruiters increasingly sought qualified blacks as managers. The American Management Association has focused research on greater utilization of women as a new source of future managers. Congressional relaxation of the age for compulsory retirement has enabled older managers, with valuable experience, to continue longer to provide service to society. The result is that management has become more important to a much larger proportion of society.