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Is it possible that management theory can ever be as precise as theories in the fields

In the world today theory has become a fundamental part of academics and is becoming increasingly apparent in studies of the formation of society. Theoretical approaches are widely accepted and in some cases depended upon by scholars in most major fields of study including, Law, Accounting, Mathematics, Management, Sociology and Experimental Psychology and more. This essay will analyse some popular management theories in order to identify the fact that management theories as a whole cannot be compared to those of another field of study due to their lack of precision and vagueness. It will provide an example of a precise theory, whilst discussing the importance of having management theory. ‘“Nothing is quite so practical as a good and original theory” in this way: good theory is practical precisely because it advances knowledge in a scientific discipline, guide research toward crucial questions, and enlightens the profession of management’ (Gioia & Corley 2011).

Prior to addressing Management theory it is perhaps helpful to explain briefly what is meant by theory. Theory is a statement of concepts and their relationships that shows how and/or why a phenomenon occurs (Gioia & Corley 2011). As a result there can be numerous theories, perspectives and concepts surrounding

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any one thing. It has been generally approved that management theory is a multidisciplinary area of study that expansively draws from other foundational disciplines such as Engineering, Sociology, Mathematics, Economics etc. (Oswick, Fleming & Hanlon 2011). It also borrows ideas and concepts from these other fields of study. Looking first of all at Scientific Management whose founding father (Frederick Taylor), became renowned for his strongest positive legacy. This legacy was the concept of breaking a complex task down into numbers of small subtasks and focusing on improving the performance of the subtasks. Tasks were homogenised as much as possible, workers were rewarded and punished. This approach has been recognised for its effectiveness in organisation of assembly lines and other mechanistic, routinized activities. Apart from the fact that he borrowed a large percentage of his work from the field of engineering the theory has been largely criticised, by both historical and contemporary critics, pointing out that Taylor’s theories tend to “dehumanize” the workers. Workers become bored easily when they are doing the same thing every day, in addition it leads to low employee creativity. (Mc Namara 2011).

This theory of scientific management can therefore be mentioned as one of the theories which is not precise because its original thought was taken from the school of engineering. Fred Fiedler is one of the leading specialists on the study of leadership and organizational performance consequently he had a profound impact on social organisation, and industrial psychology. In 1976 he introduced the famous contingency theory or contingency model of leadership, a concept he originally borrowed from the field of “industrial psychology and general management”, it was not his own. The Contingency Theory refers to the Manager’s response to the key identified variables in an organisation and it began with the theme of “it depends,” arguing that the solution to any one managerial problem is contingent on the factors that occur in the situation.

For example, a consultant should consider the factors before recommending the “management-by-objective” (MBO) system. This would prevent mistakes being made for example in the past the same MBO for a school system was recommended to a manufacturing firm because of its former success however what the contingency view tells us that what works in one setting might not work in another. Management’s role is therefore to search for the right contingencies that will fit or solve a particular challenge that the organisation is experiencing (Daft 2006). However due to the fact that the Contingency theory attempts to provide a perspective on organizations and management based on the integration of prior theories, it can not in its entirety be called a precise theory.

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