A question often arises whether management is a science or art. It is said that "management is the oldest of arts and the youngest of sciences". This explains the changing nature of management but does not exactly answer what management is? To have an exact answer to the question it is necessary to know the meanings of the terms "Science" and "Art".
What is "Science"?
Science may be described- "as a systematic body of knowledge pertaining to an area of study and contains some general truths explaining past events or phenomena".
The above definition contains three important characteristics of science. They areIt is a systematized body of knowledge and uses scientific methods for observationIts principles are evolved on the basis of continued observation and experiment andIts principles are exact and have universal applicability without any limitation.
Judging from the above characteristics of science, it may be observed that-Management is a systematized body of knowledge and its principles have evolved on the basis of observation.The kind of experimentation (as in natural sciences) cannot be accompanied in the area of management since management deals with the human element.In management, it is not possible to define, analyse and measure phenomena by repeating the same conditions over and over again to obtain a proof.
The above observation puts a limitation on management as a science. Management like other social sciences can be called as "inexact science".
What is "Art"?
'Art' refers to "the way of doing specific things; it indicates how an objective is to be achieved." Management like any other operational activity has to be an art. Most of the managerial acts have to be cultivated as arts of attaining mastery to secure action and results.
The above definition contains three important characteristics of art. They are-Art is the application of science. It is putting principle into practice.After knowing a particular art, practice is needed to reach the level of perfection.It is undertaken for accomplishing an end through deliberate efforts.
Judging from the above characteristics of art, it may be observed that-Management while performing the activities of getting things done by others is required to apply the knowledge of certain underlying principles which are necessary for every art.Management gets perfection in the art of managing only through continuous practice.Management implies capacity to apply accurately the knowledge to solve the problems, to face the situation and to realise the objectives fully and timely.
The above observation makes management an art and that to a fine art.
Management is both a Science as well as an Art
Management is both a science as well as an art. The science of management provides certain general principles which can guide the managers in their professional effort. The art of management consists in tackling every situation in an effective manner. As a matter of fact, neither science should be over-emphasised nor art should be discounted; the science and the art of management go together and are both mutually interdependent and complimentary.
Management is thus a science as well as an art. It can be said that-"the art of management is as old as human history, but the science of management is an event of the recent past."