Management theory

concept for managing a business enterprise

Management theory is the theory about management. The first comprehensive theories of management appeared around 1920. Towards the end of the 20th century, business management came to consist of six separate branches, namely: financial management, human resource management, information technology management, marketing management, operations management or production management, and strategic management.

Peter Drucker's groundbreaking work turned modern management theory into a serious discipline.
-- Academy of Management, 2011.
CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F

  • Drucker's career as a writer, consultant and teacher spanned nearly 75 years. His groundbreaking work turned modern management theory into a serious discipline.
  • Until the mid-1970s, the prominent approach in organization and management theory emphasized adaptive change in organizations. In this view, as environments change, leaders or dominant coalitions in organizations alter appropriate organizational features to realign their fit to environmental demands (e.g. Lawrence and Lorsch 1967; Thompson 1967; Child 1972; Chandler 1977; Pfeffer and Salancik 1978; Porter 1980; Rumelt 1986). Since then, an approach to studying organizational change that places more emphasis on environmental selection processes, introduced at about that time (Aldrich and Pfeffer 1976; Hannan and Freeman 1977; Aldrich 1979; McKelvey 1982), has become increasingly influential. The stream of research on ecological perspectives of organizational change has generated tremendous excitement, controversy and debate in the community of organization and management theory scholars. Inspired by the question, Why are there so many kinds of organizations?
    • Joel A. C. Baum, "Organizational ecology." in: Stewart Clegg ed. Studying Organization: Theory and Method (1999): 71-108. p. 71; lead paragraph
  • Management theory is a multidisciplinary academic field, whose links to practice are controversial (eg, Astley & Zammuto, 1992; Barley, Meyer, & Gash, 1988; Hambrick, 1994).
    • James W. Dean, and David E. Bowen. "Management theory and total quality: improving research and practice through theory development." Academy of management review 19.3 (1994): 392-418.
  • To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and to control. To foresee and plan means examining the future and drawing up the plan of action. To organize means building up the dual structure, material and human, of the undertaking. To command means binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort. To control means seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed demand.
    • Henri Fayol (1916) cited in: Russell C. Swansburg (1996) Management and Leadership for Nurse Managers, p. 1
  • Hitler also missed the point completely about American economic capabilities, for the cars and the refrigerators he sneered at were being produced by corporations that led the world in techniques of mass production and modern management. The Axis leaders deluded themselves into believing that, with the Great Depression, the American economic model had disintegrated. Yet despite the sluggish growth of aggregate demand in the mid to late 1930s, firms like General Motors were taking tremendous strides forward in efficiency, exploiting those economies of scale that were unique to the huge American market. Exports to Britain and the Soviet Union had given GM and its peers a foretaste of what was to come. With the American entry into the war, they were inundated with government orders for military hardware. In the First World War, the result had been a mess: production bottlenecks, chronic waste and inflationary pressure. In 1942 the opposite happened. 'The real news,' as Charles E. Wilson of General Motors put it, 'is that our American methods of production, our know-how about the business, could be applied to mass production of all these war things . . . and that is the one factor that I think our Axis enemies overlooked.'
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. xliii
  • There will be no drastic revolution in management functions or organizations in order to encompass systems management. Rather, the adaptation of systems management theory to organizations has been and will continue to be an evolutionary process.
    • [Jay Wright Forrester]] in: Management and Management Science (1959) in: Howard L'Amie Sampson. A Model for Applying Systems Management Theory to a Large School System, 1968, p. 68.

G - L

  • Although students of management would readily agree that there have been problems of management since the dawn of organized life, most would also agree that systematic examination of management, with few exceptions, is the product of the present century and more especially of the past two decades.
    • Harold Koontz, "The Management Theory Jungle," Journal of the Academy of Management, 4 (December 1961), pp. 174-188. p. 174
  • The Current Approaches to Management Theory and Science
I hope the reader will realize that, in outlining the eleven approaches, I must necessarily be terse.
  • The empirical or case approach : The members of this school study management by analyzing experience, usually through cases...
  • The interpersonal behavior approach: This approach is apparently based on the thesis that managing involves getting things done through people, and that therefore the study of management should be centered on interpersonal relations...
  • The group behavior approach : This approach is ... primarily with behavior of people in groups rather than with interpersonal behavior...
  • The cooperative social system approach : A modification of the interpersonal and group behavior approaches has been the focus of some behavioral scientists on the study of human relationships as cooperative social systems...
  • The sociotechnical systems approach : One of the newer schools of management identifies itself as the sociotechnical systems approach...
  • The decision theory approach : This approach to management theory and science has apparently been based on the belief that, because it is a major task of managers to make decisions, we should concentrate on decision making...
  • The systems approach ; ... the systems approach to the study and analysis of management thought...
  • The mathematical or "management science" approach : There are some theorists who see managing as primarily an exercise in mathematical processes, concepts, symbols, and models...
  • The contingency or situational approach : ... the contingency approach to management.
  • The managerial roles approach :... popularized by Henry Mintzberg [1973, 1975]...
  • The operational approach : The operational approach to management theory and science, a term borrowed from the work of P. W. Bridgman [1938, pp. 2-32], attempts to draw together the pertinent knowledge of management by relating it to the functions of managers...
The nature of the operational approach can perhaps best be appreciated by reference to Figure 1. As this diagram shows, the operational management school of thought includes a central core of science and theory unique to management plus knowledge eclectically drawn from various other schools and approaches...
  • Harold Koontz, "The Management Theory Jungle Revisited," Academy of Management Review 5 (April 1980), p. 177-182

M - R


S - Z

  • After joining the faculty at UCLA in 1948, Professor O'Donnell quickly became a leader in the newly developing field of management theory and policy. He taught the basic courses in this area. In 1955 the first edition of the textbook Principles of Management, coauthored with Professor Harold Koontz, was published by McGraw-Hill. This book synthesized an operational approach to the management of enterprises. By filling a long-felt need in colleges and universities, it soon became the outstanding college textbook on its subject.

See also

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