Management as a Science or Art or Profession (Explained with Examples)


Management must be analyzed with different aspects in terms of Management as a science and art to know the essential nature of management. Also, Management in reference to administration, and as a profession must be understood to understand the true nature of management. 

Controversy: Management is a Science or Art?

management is a science or an art?

Before we discuss, why management is considered science, art, and profession? and how accurate this statement is. We have to understand, this question comes under the nature of management.

This controversy with reference to the nature of management, on whether it’s a science or an art, is extremely old.

Specification of the precise nature of management as a science or art or both is important to specify the method of learning management.

We aren’t going into the details of the nature of management in every aspect.

But before we start our discussion on Management as a science or art, take a glance at the subsequent bullet points on the nature of management.

Nature of Management 

  • Management is Multidisciplinary.
  • Management is a Dynamic Process.
  • Management is a Science as well as an Art.
  • Management is a Universal Process.
  • Management is a Continuous Process.
  • Management is a Social Process.
  • Management is a Goal-Oriented.

So now we’ll discuss the nature of Management only in terms of why it’s called science, art, and profession.

This topic is extremely important because it’s often asked in assignments and academic examinations of management studies.

Topics discussed in this article are as follows: 

  • Management as a Science
  • Management as an Art
  • Management as both Science and Art
  • Management as a Profession
  • Summary (For Assignment and Answer Writing)
  • Detailed Discussion (For Research Purpose)

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⦿ Management as a Science 

Management is considered as a science because it has an organized body of knowledge which contains certain universal truth.

Definition of science in management;

“Science is a systematic body of knowledge of data concerning a selected field of study that contains general facts which explain a phenomenon.”

Science is the study and knowledge about the physical world and natural laws.

It establishes cause and effect relationship between two or more variables and underlines the principles governing their relationship.

These principles are developed through the scientific method of observation (experiments) and verification through testing.

Features of Management as a science

Management as a Science is characterized by the subsequent main features:

▶ Universally acceptance principles –

Scientific principles represent basic truth about a few particular fields of inquiry. These principles may be applied in all situations, at all times & at all places.

For Example, the law of gravitation can be applied in all countries in the world irrespective of time.

Management also contains some fundamental principles which may be applied universally like the Principle of Unity of Command i.e. one man, one boss. This principle is applicable to all or any sort of organization (business or non-business).

▶ Experimentation & Observation –

Scientific principles are derived through scientific investigation & research experiments. i.e. they are based on facts and logic.

For Example, the universal principle of “Earth goes around the sun” has been scientifically proved.

Management principles are also based on scientific theory & observation and not only on the opinion of Henry Fayol. They have been developed through experiments & practical experiences of a large no. of managers and organizations.

For Example, it is observed that fair remuneration to personal helps in creating a satisfied workforce environment.

▶ Cause & Effect Relationship –

Principles of science lay down cause and effect relationships between various variables.

For Example, when metals are heated, they’re expanded. The cause is heating & the result is expansion.

The same is true for management, therefore it also establishes cause and effect relationship.

For Example, Disparity between authority & responsibility will lead to ineffectiveness. If you know the cause of lack of balance, then ineffectiveness can be ascertained easily.

Similarly, if workers are given bonuses and fair wages then they will work hard. But the productivity of the organization will be reduced if they are not treated in a fair manner. 

It can’t be denied that management is a systematic body of knowledge but it is not considered as that of other physical sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, Geology.

The main reason for this ignorance of management as physical science is that it deals with human beings and groups of people. It is very difficult to predict their behavior in an organization accurately.

All these factors denote that it is a social process, Hence management falls in the area of social sciences.

It is a flexible science & that is why its theories and principles may produce different results at different times. Therefore, sometimes it is considered behavioral science.

Business Management Professor, Ernest Dale has called Management a Soft Science.

Must Read ➜ Management by Objectives (MBO)

⦿ Management as an Art

Management is an art because, in management, a manager applies his skills to manage and coordinate the effort of their people to perform his duties within the organization.

Definition of Art in Management

Art refers to the application of knowledge (methods and principles) & skill to get desired results.

According to the definition of management, Management is the art of getting things done through and with people in an organization.

  • This art may be defined as a personalized application of principles (accepted universally) for achieving the best possible results.
  • Managerial art is the activity or skill of managing functions such as planning, organizing, leading, staffing, and controlling. 
  • The manager develops this art through his knowledge and experience of working in the organization. 

Features of Management as an Art

Management as an Art is characterized by the subsequent main features:

▶ Practical Knowledge:

Every art requires practical knowledge therefore learning of theory isn’t sufficient. it’s vital to understand the practical application of theoretical principles.

For Example, A good painter is a person who may not only be knowing different colors and brushes but different designs, dimensions, and situations to use them appropriately.

A manager can never achieve success just by obtaining a degree or diploma in management. He must have also know how to apply various principles in real situations by functioning within the capacity of a manager.

▶ Personal Skill:

Although the theoretical base may be the same for every artist (Manager), each one has his own style and approach towards his job (Skill).

This is the reason why the level of success and quality of performance differs from one person to another.

For Example, there are several qualified painters in the world but painters like Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, and M.F. Hussain have their own legacy. They are recognized for their style.

Similarly, management as an art is also personalized and every manager has his own way of managing things based on his knowledge, experience, and personality.

That’s why some managers are known as good managers (like Aditya Birla, Rahul Bajaj) whereas others as just average or bad.

▶ Creativity: 

Every artist has a component of creativity in line. That’s why he aims at producing something that has never existed before which requires a mixture of intelligence & imagination.

Management is also dynamic and creative in nature like any other art.

It combines human and non-human resources in a useful way so as to achieve desired goals.

▶ Perfection through practice: 

Practice makes a man perfect is a well-known proverb that simply means every artist becomes more and more proficient through constant practice.

Similarly, managers learn through the art of trial and error initially.

But the application of management principles over the years makes them perfect in the job of managing and problem-solving.

▶ Goal-Oriented: 

Every art is result-oriented as it seeks to achieve desired results.

In the same manner, management is also directed towards the accomplishment of pre-determined goals of the organization.

Managers use various resources like manpower, money, material, machinery & methods to promote the growth of an organization.

Thus, we can say that management is an art therefore it requires the application of certain principles.

It’s an art of the highest order because it deals with molding the attitude and behavior of people at work towards desired goals.

Must Read ➜ Human Resource Planning (HRP)

⦿ Management as both Science and Art

It’s true, Management is a science as well as an art.

The above-mentioned points in this article clearly reveal that management combines features of both sciences as well as art.

  • It is considered as a science because it has an organized body of knowledge (principles) which contains certain universal truth.
  • It is called an art because managing requires certain skills which are the personal ability of managers.
  • In Management, Science provides knowledge & art deals with the application of knowledge and skills.
  • Skilled or talented managers can be considered an intangible asset of the organization.

Any manager can be successful in his job role if he must acquire the knowledge of science (management principles) & the art of applying it.

Management is a perfect blend of science as well as art,

In view of the fact that science proves the principles and the way these principles are applied is a matter of art.

Science simply teaches us to ’know’ (Theory) and art teaches us to ’do’ (Practical).

For Example, a person can’t be a good singer unless he has knowledge about various melodic frameworks (raga) and he also applies his personal skill in the art of singing.

In the same way, it is not enough for the manager to first know the principles but he must also apply them in solving various managerial problems in real situations.

Science and art with respect to management, are not mutually exclusive but they are complementary to each other. (like tea and biscuit, bread and butter, etc.).

There is an old old saying, “Managers are Born” which has been rejected in favor of “Managers are Made” by various management authors.

It has been aptly remarked by many researchers that management is the oldest of art and the youngest of science. In short, we can say that science is the root and art is the fruit.

⦿ Summery

To understand quickly again, Here is the summary of the above discussion;

Management as an Art:

A Manager applies his knowledge (study/experience) & skills (practice/talent) to manage the effort of their people to perform his duties in the organization. The main elements are as follows:

  • Personal Skill
  • Application of knowledge
  • Result Orientation
  • Creativity
  • Practical knowledge

Management as a Science:

  • It comprises a systematized body of knowledge which have practicability.
  • Universal acceptability is there.
  • Management is considered Social Science because not only it brings profits to the organization but also serves as a helpful tool for our society.
  • Principles & theories developed by continuous research experiments, and observations.

Management as a Profession:

  • Learning Ability
  • Post Learning Experience
  • Ethical code of Conduct
  • National Recognition
  • Working Principles

Must Read ➜ 14 Principles of Management

⦿ Detailed Discussion (For Research Purpose)

The following discussion on “Management as a science/art/profession” is taken from various books, described by management authors and researchers.

Let’s start the discussion. 

🔹 Management as a Science and Art

First of all, It is clear that the learning process in science differs from that of art.

  • Learning science basically involves the assimilation of principles and theories.
  • Learning of art involves its continuous practice in real situations.

The controversy of “Management as a science or art” is on account of the fact that the earlier industrialist, business owners, and managers have used intuition, hunches, commonsense, and experience in managing organizations.

They never got professional training like today’s managers to get.

Although they were very skilled and had developed commonsense through which they managed their work efficiently.

▶ Commonsense Vs Science

Commonsense and Science both have a relation to management. And we can understand the major differences between Commonsense and science are as follows;

  • Commonsense is vague (not definite) as compared to scientific knowledge.
  • Commonsense is based on flagrant inconsistency whereas Science is based on logical consistency.
  • Science systematically explains the events with proper explanation whereas commonsense ignored the need for explanation.
  • The scientific method reveals claims to the critical evaluation of experimental analysis. And the commonsense method fails to test the outcome in any scientific fashion.

Science is logically consistent, critical evaluation, systematic explanation, and experimental analysis. Thus, the general definition of science can be defined as follows;

Science is a body of systematic knowledge accumulated and accepted with reference to the understanding of general truths concerning a particular object, subject, phenomenon, or field of study. Thus, we can say that science is a systematized body of knowledge.

The process of formulation of scientific theory and its confirmation can be viewed as involving the following steps:

  • First, we formulate a problem or complex of problems based on observation:
  • According to inductions from observation, we construct a theory to provide answers to the problems;
  • scientific hypotheses being produced from the theory;
  • To test the hypothesis, we recast the hypotheses in terms of specific measures and do required operations;
  • Prepare actual situation to test the theorem;
  • Finally, the actual test in which confirmation does or does not occur conducted. 

🔹 Management as Science (With Examples)

If we compare the above features of formulation theory in science with management. Then it is clear that management regarded as science halfway only.

Management may be called pseudoscience or inexact science. Perhaps this is true management is a branch of all social sciences.

Management is not as exact as physical sciences are because of so many reasons discussed below.

This phenomenon (Management as a science) can be explained as follows:

■ 1. Science may be viewed in terms of making structure, and methods of achieving goals.

The scientific structure is referred to a number of scientific disciplines such as physics, biology, psychology, economics, management, and many others.

All these sciences attempt to provide a set of internally consistent hypotheses, principles, theories, and laws dealing with an aspect of total knowledge of that field of study.

Such internal consistency may be attained but there are many young sciences like economics and management that only approximate in nature.

■ 2. Another rule of science is that concepts have to be defined clearly in terms of the procedures involved in their measurement and backed by experiments.

Every particular term has its meaning and while studying a concept, one should have to know its meaning exactly.

Meaning has to be clearly defined to avoid confusion and erroneous classification.

However, in management, various terms are not used in the same way all the time.

For Example, major terms like management and organization are used in different ways.

This phenomenon is quite normal because, since the 1920s, a number of disciplines have claimed to contribute to human knowledge of managing. These disciplines and etiquette have been immature to be a science.

■ 3. Science observations must be done in a controlled manner so that causation may be attributed correctly.

The most common method of eliminating a given factor as a possible cause of an event is to hold it constant and avoid variation so that it cannot operate as a source of change.

This is a difficult rule to follow while studying organizational phenomena.

Many times research studies in management have suffered a lot just because of the bias of researchers.

for Example, In many studies, a variable that was thought to be irrelevant was found to be very influential.

However, the effort to identify factors that must be controlled, and to develop procedures to accomplish this is a continuous process.

The explanation is only possible when this effort is successful, reliability of perception and reasoning, and hence valid.

■ 4. Scientific theories are based on experiments that permit empirical confirmation. The abstract of any research is testable and the testes are capable of repetition with the same result.

That’s why the rationality of the total scientific system is preserved. However, this does not happen in management in the same manner.

Many of the management principles lack experimental evidence and this is because these principles do not give similar results under varying conditions.

Management on the basis of scientific observations may and may not be universal application. because still, the process is in an evolutionary stage. 

Until the principles are not evolved in a way that they accepted universally in varying situations also, management cannot be called a science in its true sense.

All the above factors suggest that management is not pure science but it can be simply called inexact science.

Considering the fact that the management also makes use of scientific methods in evolving principles. Therefore, we can say that it bears partial characteristics of science.

In fact, many authors have said that with greater we use of mathematics and statistics in management, the more and more use of true science in management.

This is true but it must be noted that management is not becoming mathematics, rather mathematics is being used to explain, calculating, and helps decision making in management.

Mathematics is just a basic abstract science because it is fundamental to other sciences.

For Example, maths is necessary to the study of physics. Similarly, it is not mathematics that is the science of management but the use of mathematics helps in relating and understanding the management operations.

Science may contribute to the solution of managerial problems in two ways;

(i) Existing research and theory relevant to the problem may be brought to bear on its solution.

(ii) Research may be conducted to provide information not previously available and to guide solutions accordingly, where sufficient time is available.

As scientific knowledge of the management process increases, the first approach may receive a wider application.

However, the second approach may have limited application because of the widespread time pressure on decision-making for problem solutions.

🔹 Management as an Art (With Examples)

Management can be regarded as art also. The meaning of art is related to the bringing of the desired result through the application of skills.

Whereas under science, one learns the why of a phenomenon (Theory), under art, one learns the how of it (Practical).

Art is concerned with the ability to know how particular work can be accomplished. that is, art has to do with applying knowledge/science and expertness in performance.

Art is necessary for management because, in many instances, much creativity and skills are required. The adequate consideration of people involved in managerial action is vital and adds to the concept of the art of managing.

Science and art are complementary fields of endeavor when it comes to management.

Doctors require knowledge of the science of chemistry, biology, and anatomy. But good marks in their studies do not make them excellent physicians.

They have to apply their wealth of knowledge expertly. The doctor’s skill in perceiving how and when to use his knowledge is essential to his success in preventing and controlling the disease of mankind. Thus, we can say that knowledge is not the sole qualification.

Similarly, For Example, in management, if one student scores an ‘A’ grade and another scores B grade, it does not mean that the former would be a better manager than the latter.

This is so because management is an art and a better manager is one who knows how to apply the knowledge in solving managerial problems.

Management is an art and the main facts of it are as follows:

  1. The process of management does involve the use of know-how and skills like any other art such as music, painting, sculpture, etc.
  2. The process of management is work towards achieving certain better results as other fields of art do.
  3. Management is creative like any other art. Creativity is a major dimension in managerial success. It creates new situations for further improvements.
  4. Management is personalized meaning thereby that there is no ‘one best way of managing. Every person in his profession has an individual approach and technique in solving the problems.

The success of the managerial tasks is related to the personality of the person apart from the character and quality of the general body of knowledge.

🔹 Management both science and art

A successful manager is a person who requires the knowledge of management principles and also the skills of how the knowledge can be applied.

The absence of either will result in inefficiency. A comparison between science and art is presented in the image below, which suggests that a manager requires both aspects of management to be successful.

Comparison between science and art as used in management.

comparison in science and art in management

  • Science is Advance by knowledge and it mainly Proves, Predicts, Defines, Measures, and Impresses. 
  • Art is Advance by practice and it Feels, Guesses, Describes, Opines, and Expresses.

It can be seen that management uses both scientific knowledge and art in managing an organization.

As the science of management increases so should the art of management. A balance between the two is needed. Neither should be overweighed or slighted.

Some feel that further gains in the science of management will restrict art more and more.

This statement is true to a limited extent only but the fact remains that to be useful, knowledge of science must be applied, that is, art must be present.

There is an old saying that “knowledge is power” which is partially true. The correct saying should be “Applied knowledge is power” seems more appropriate here.

People having so much knowledge may have little use if they don’t know how to use knowledge.

This is particularly true at least for management which is a situational phenomenon.

🔹 Management as Profession

Management is considered a profession by many experts, although it doesn’t have all the features of a profession.

Therefore, it is desirable to find out whether management is a profession or not.

A profession is an occupation that required specialized knowledge, skills, and training.

The use of these skills is not meant for personal use but these are used for larger interests of the society. The measurement of success of the use of these skills is measured not in terms of money alone.

Professions are occupations in the sense that they provide a livelihood.

But remember, all occupations are not professions because some of them lack certain characteristics of a profession.

The main characteristics of a Profession are as follows;

  • There must be an existence of a systematized body of knowledge.
  • Must have a formal method of acquisition of knowledge.
  • Must have an existence of an association with professionalization as its goals.
  • There should be ethical codes and service motives.

Let’s discuss all these characteristics are found in management to determine whether it is a profession or not.

▶ Existence of knowledge

A profession emerges from the establishment of fact that there is a systematic body of knowledge that has to be studied for being a successful professional.

This fact applies to management also.

Management has been developed as a distinct body of knowledge over the last 50 years.

The development of management studies has been due to the need for managing complex and large organizations in a better way.

Therefore, Management satisfies the requirement of a profession in the form of particular knowledge.

However, management concepts are still evolving and continuously new principles are being developed. But this does not affect its status as being a profession.

▶ Acquisition of knowledge

It is essential that an individual can enter a profession only after acquiring knowledge and skills through formal training.

For Example, only law graduates with valid licenses can enter the profession of legal practice.

Definition of Professional,

“A professional is one who practices a profession and regarded as an expert in his field.”

professional has mastery of a specific branch of learning upon which his occupation is based. He is a legally authorized person and may offer service to his client.

But as we have emphasized earlier it is mandatory to get acquisition of knowledge through some formal method.

From this point of view, management can’t be regarded as a profession because anybody can enter the managerial cadre in an organization. Because it is not limited to management graduates only.

However, we can say that management graduates can perform better performance in the organization because of their familiarity with the various managerial techniques.

▶ Professional Association 

It is compulsory that an occupation that claims to be a profession, should have an association with an official regulatory body.

This type of association consists of firms and individuals whose membership is based on common professional, scientific, or technical purposes.

These representative bodies regulate and develop professional activities and liable to make standards and norms.

The body also prescribes the eligibility for individuals who want to enter the profession.

There are associations at various levels in the field of management.

For Example, in India, there is the All India Management Association (AIMA) with its local chapters in most of the cities.

Similarly, there are associations of managers in foreign countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, etc. also.

However, managers do not belong to a single, unified professional group like the MCI (Medical Council of India). It is a statutory body that regulates medical practitioners and medical education in India.

Another example is the Bar Council of India for legal practitioners.

Apart from these regulatory bodies, individuals and firms also affiliated with trade associations. This system of association is true throughout the world.

On the basis of the feature of the profession, management cannot be termed as a true professional.

▶ Ethical Codes

Some ethical standards are provided in every profession, and every individual of the profession is expected to maintain conformity with these standards.

Ethical codes are necessary because of the fact that occupations whose practitioners have mastery over an area of knowledge have a degree of power by virtue of their expertise.

This power can be used for the benefit of the professionals at the cost of society.

As a result, In many occupations issuing a code of ethics of professional practice so that clients may know the standards and commitment that they should receive from a professional.

In management also, a code of conduct (Etiquette) has been formulated to suggest the behavioral pattern for professional managers.

Though there is a lack of universally accepted ethical codes for managers throughout the world.

Managers are supposed to be socially responsible in most countries. And it is their duty to protect the interest of all parties associated with an organization.

These parties may be customers, suppliers, investors, employees, creditors, government, and the general public.

However, the ethical codes in management are not much prevalent in the absence of any regulatory body.

The management association is not fully representative of the professional managers.

In fact, in India, many managers are not even aware of the code of conduct formulated by All India Management Associations.

▶ Service Motive

Ethical code provides the behavioral pattern for a professional person. And the service motive concept suggests that professionals should keep social interest in their mind while charging fees for their professional services.

The monetary value of professional service cannot be measured easily in the absence of a market mechanism. And except the competition among the professionals themselves.

Professionals are in a position to charge higher fees by virtue of their expert knowledge.

The success parameter of any profession is evaluated not in terms of money it earns but by the amount of social service it provides. This is equally true for the management profile also.

Management is an integrating agency that contributes to society by way of integrating various resources into productive units.

It is very essential for the stability and welfare of society.

Management contribution cannot be measured in terms of money alone because without the integrating effort of management, resources worth millions of rupees may be useless.