Why is management both a science and an art?

Have you ever wondered whether management is a science or an art? For some people, management is not only a “scientific” management method, it is also a discipline that calls on intuition, common sense, creativity and experience. From there to talking about art, it is only a step away…

Art, science, or both?

The importance of management in modern organizations is well established. The discipline, through its multiple evolutions (vertical, collaborative, inclusive management…), has been able to adapt to its environment, always with the objective of optimizing the results of companies by maximizing the performance of their employees and teams. At the very beginning, management rhymed above all with iron discipline and chain work (Fordism, Taylorism, etc.). Today, its main objective is to promote the well-being of employees, a guarantee of performance if there is one.

But let’s come back to the subject that interests us: beyond the fact that it is a science, can we consider management to be an “art”? The answer to this question could not be more subtle… Remember this postulate: management becomes an art when it reaches its scientific limits. So yes, management is also an art, but also (and above all!) a science.

Management as an art

Simply put, the art consists of realizing a desire through the application of a skill. Art is therefore a skillful application of knowledge that depends entirely on a person’s inherent ability and is learned through practice and experience. Art is concerned with understanding how a particular job can be accomplished. In this sense, management is certainly an art since the manager uses his skills, knowledge and experience to successfully solve the various problems that arise in the operation of his company. Management is considered an art rather than a science, mainly because management is a personal and intuitive discipline.

Management as a science

Science can be described as a systematic body of knowledge based on correct conclusions and accurate principles subject to verification. It is a reservoir of fundamental truths and its conclusions apply to all situations. Science is knowledge of facts and principles, knowledge acquired through systematic study or observation and experimentation. For example, the methods used in scientific investigation are systematic and empirical. In addition, information can be ordered and analysed and the results or conclusions of scientific studies are cumulative.

On this basis, management is a science because it has developed systematized knowledge. Like other sciences, management has also developed certain principles, laws and generalizations that are universal in nature and applicable wherever people’s efforts need to be coordinated. Managers often use a specific body of knowledge consisting of principles, generalizations, approaches and concepts to be applied in certain situations. These management principles have been developed and formulated on the basis of observation, research, analysis and experimentation, and also on the basis of cause and effect relationships, like other sciences.

Moreover, management is about people and it is very difficult to predict their behaviour accurately. Empirical management studies people and the factors that affect them in order to understand human behaviour in the workplace. It is therefore a behavioural science. Managers, when faced with management problems, generally expect that there is a rational and objective way to determine the correct course of action.

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