What are Management Principles?

Management, as we all know, is a discipline. It is in fact a complicated and very important discipline with multiple facets and huge scope. All fields of study, in one way or the other are governed and bound by a certain set of principles. Management is no different, and has principles that are unique to it. These principles play a key role in making the complicated process and discipline of management clear and practical and helps in ensuring its efficiency. Thus importance attached to Principles of Management is immense and it is essential to have a thorough understanding of these principles, their importance, features and objectives.

A managerial principle is a broad and general guideline that regulates decision making and behavior within a group or organisation. These principles of extensively deals with human behavior, thought and actions which never remains static and thus are not as rigid as the principles that govern science or other disciplines. These principles are guidelines that are used when applying the techniques of management.

Techniques are those methods and procedures involved in the process of management whereas principles are checks upon these techniques. They are general propositions formulated over years of research in work related situations and environments and are applicable when certain qualifying conditions are present. These principles have been developed through observation and experimentation as well as through personal experiences of many managers. These guidelines denote and establish a cause and effect relationship and helps in the efficient discharge of functions.

Features of Management Principles

  • Universality of Application : The principles of management are universally applicable. These principles are applied to all kinds of organisations around the world from governments to businesses and non-profit units regardless of their size or scale. Only the nature of their application and the method of application changes whereas the concept remains. An instance to understand this is the extent of decentralization in an organisation. Certain types of businesses may require a high degree of centralization with the requirement of concentration of decision making and certain business may require less scale of centralization, this varied application of scale however does not take away the application of the principle of decentralization.
  • General Guidelines : Management principles are naught but general guidelines or propositions and are not issue specific. That is, these guidelines are not ready made for different business situations and must be used using diligence and intellect after understanding the situation. These principles such as for instance, “Firm before Department” might help in easy resolution of business problems. The principle now quoted can resolve an inter departmental conflict by reminding the department heads that, the department is secondary to the firm.
  • Result of Observation and Experimentation : Management principles were not formulated overnight and are a result of continuous observation and experimentation carried out in a work place by skilled managers over many years. The principle of division of labor was formulated seeing the efficiency it brought about through specialization and accountability. In a like manner, all principles are developed over a course of time.
  • Flexibility: The principles of management are not rigid or concrete. Their application differs from situation to situation. For instance, the principle of division of labor may not be applicable when the work to be done is indivisible and forms a concrete whole. These principles are applied by the managers after giving due regard to the conditions of their applicability.
  • Behavioral in Nature : Most of the principles of management revolves around the behavior of humans and aims at influencing this behavior. These principles tries to bring about a better understanding of the relation between humans and material resources in accomplishing organisational goals.
  • Establishes Cause and Effect Relationship : This is an important feature of the principles of management. These principles are intended to establish a relationship between what causes something such as an event or action and the effect of that event or action on something else. The importance of establishing this is because many situations can be so understood on the basis of the understanding of the effect. For instance, division of labor causes specialization which creates the effect of efficiency. So such an understanding entails that if division of labor is applied to divisible work efficiency can be achieved.
  • Contingent : The principles of management are contingent on a applicable situation prevailing or existing for its application. The application of these principles thus change according to changing conditions, and a new principle may be applied in the place of an existing one when the conditions changes.

Importance of Management Principles

  • Provides insights : Management principles play a key role in providing insights to facilitate efficient decision making. These principles adds to their knowledge and ability to deal with various situations and also helps in handling recurring contemplated problems. Thus it plays a role in increasing managerial efficiency.
  • Optimal Utilization of Resources : Resources are the life blood of a business. Its optimal usage is a sine qua non for the success of a business. Management principles helps in ensuring optimal usage by laying down broad frameworks on how to use these resources and how not to. This when applied in proper situations can make for efficient resource decisions. These principles are also applicable to resource collection or organisation, so as to prevent wasteful accumulation of scarce resources.
  • Effective Administration : Administration of a business is a part and parcel of management. Principles of Management plays a key role in administering the business by helping in the regulation of the human resources among each other and also by prescribing norms of relations. These norms when followed leads to established beneficial results. For example, decentralization as a principle helps in administration by giving adequate power to many units across the business to ensure compliance and efficiency.
  • Scientific Decisions : The decisions made by following these principles are scientific decisions. It is scientific in the sense that it is made with due regard to logic, reason and facts and it is rational. Rational decisions always ensures efficiency within a business and helps in its success.
  • Adapting to Changes : Management principles as already mentioned are general guidelines which is to be applied differently in different situations. Different management principles are contemplated for different situations. So when a situation changes, a different management principle apt to the new situation thereby allows adapting to changes.
  • Fulfilling Social Responsibility : Management principles plays a vital role in fulfilling the responsibility the business owes to the society. Businesses being social entities have social responsibilities for the benefits they derive from the society. Management principles such as ensuring optimal resources etc makes sure that the business does not bring harm to the society and also that it benefits the society.
  • Basis of Management Studies : Management principles lie at the base of management education. All the knowledge imparted to the students of management are derived from management principles. This understanding conferred by virtue of being based on management principles helps in developing managerial talent.

Objectives of Management Principles

  • Coordination : Coordination is an essential function of management. It allows for ensuring that the work done by the individual elements of the firm are combined for the furtherance of the collective objective of the firm. Most management principles aims at ensuring this function and facilitating coordination.
  • Ensure Efficiency : All management principles aims at ensuring the overall efficiency of the business. Management principles provide guidelines as to how tasks are to be completed for increased efficiency.
  • Ensure Compliance to the Plan and Controlling : Management principles such as centralization and decentralization etc ensures that plans required for the firm are formulated at different levels with different levels of importance. Then it also facilitates ensuring compliance to the plan by controlling through principles such as Authority and Responsibility, Discipline etc.

Apart from these objectives, there are more which are already highlighted in the preceding section of importance of management principles. Management principles becomes important in those terms especially because they aim to ensure such things. For instance, management principles are important in ensuring optimum utilization of resources because management principles invariably considers such optimum utilization as an essential objective.

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