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What is Management?

Updated on November 20, 2009

Management is the art of coordinating the elements or factors of production toward the achievement of the purposes of an organization. It is the accomplishment of objectives through the use of men, materials, and machines. The traditional economic classification of the factors of production includes land, labor, capital, and coordination. The management function is a major segment of coordination.

Any enterprise or association, whether public or private, whether run for profit or not, must be controlled. The control of an enterprise is effected through administration and management. These two functions are not the same, although they are often confused. Administration consists of the determination of the goals and the policies of the enterprise. In a business organization, these goals usually include economical production, sale of production at a profit, and growth of the enterprise at least to the point at which diminishing returns are encountered. In nonbusiness enterprises, policies must also be determined. The carrying out of these policies to achieve the aims of the enterprise is management. The confusion arises because management personnel often influence policy determinations.

For administration and management to function effectively, there must be a proper structuring of the enterprise. This is organization, which is necessary to, but distinct from, both administration and management. Organization has been termed the keystone on which the entire structure of any enterprise is based. Management is now seen as the carrying out of the policies of administration through the framework of organization.

The form which the organization of an enterprise will take is determined by the nature of the problems encountered, the conditions under which the problems will have to be solved, and the character of the personnel that are available.

Because of the increasing specialization of management functions, the organization of management has become a major problem of administration. The main problem is coordination. The usual solution is a division of management units along such functional lines as finance, production, and personnel. This type of organization must be tempered, however, by a consideration of the most effective coordination, and possible centralization, of management activities.

Management has been called both a science and an art. The development of scientific management has demonstrated the fact that many techniques of management are susceptible to measurement and factual determination. Such techniques have in part replaced reliance on personal judgment. To this extent, management may be said to be a science. But in coordinating these techniques and in enlisting the cooperation of individual employees, management may still be considered an art.

Although the principles of management have been developed primarily in the field of business, the same basic principles can be applied to all forms of enterprise. It is this similarity of application that holds the greatest promise for a further systematization of management as a science.

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