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Musbri Mohamed

Management Theory: Current
Status and Future Direction

Although it is difficult to deny the

existence of a systems body of
knowledge, it appears that the
system school is actually part of
quantitative school.

To understand the systems concept we should focus
the organization as an open and adaptive system.
Since business organizations are contrived systems,
they can survive the onset of entropy and unlike their
biological counterparts, exist indefinitely depending on
how they are managed. On the other hand, they must
be responsive to change but they must not change so
quickly that they are seriously thrown out of
equilibrium. Finding the right balance is one of the
keys to indefinite survival.

The system concept was next used to examine managerial
system. Three levels exist in the managerial system of a
complex organization: technical, organizational and
institution. The technical level is concerned with producing
the goods or services. The organizational level coordinates and
integrates the technical and institutional levels. The
institutional level relates the activities of the organization to
the environmental system. Within this system are three types
of managers, one for each of the levels. The technical
manager is a nuts-and-bolts individual; the organization
manager is more like a political mediator and the institutional
manager is a conceptual-philosophical decision-maker. Yet,
although there are different levels and interests within the
structure, all three must combine their talents and energies in
the attainment of overall organizational objectives.

In order to achieve this blending of talent and
energy; managers must plan, organize and control.
They must also make decisions and employ the
latest quantitative methods where applicable; and
they must understand and utilize the abilities of
their subordinates through effective
communication, motivation and leadership. In short,
the management process, quantitative and
behavioral schools are all still important to modern
managers. In fact, managers today draw on the
concepts of all three in carrying out their duties.
The systems approach encourages this.

Some synthesis among the schools of
management thought appears to be going
on. Ten specific reasons were cited.
However, it was also noted that this synthesis is
unlikely to result in a major change in the three
schools of thought. The management process
school, the quantitative school and the
behavioral school of management thought will
continue to endure into the indefinite future.

Social Responsibility

There’s nothing the world loves

more than a ready-made
description which they can hang
on to a man, and save
themselves all trouble in future.

Social responsibility is a continuing
challenge to modern business. Realizing
that business is actually serving its own
long-run interests by aiding the community,
many firms today are actively meeting the
three major social challenges of the day;
equal opportunity, ecology and

Employment Act, Labour Law,
Equal Pay Act and Civil Rights
were all landmarks in helping
ensure equal opportunity in
the workplace. However, business
has also played a key role in
helping find work for minorities
and the handicapped, and many
firms have also helped minority
capitalists by providing them with
both technical assistance and
business contacts.

In the area of discrimination
against women, a great deal
remains to be done. Many working
women, despite the law, are
subject to sexual harassment and
often do not receive equal pay for
equal work. Nor are their chances
for management promotion as
good as those of their
counterparts. Fortunately, many
companies are aware of these
conditions and are taking steps to
rectify them.

Ecology concerns ranging
from air pollution to water and
noise pollution. In each
instance, demands on
business firms have resulted in
attempts to respond positively
to the challenge.

Consumer want to know what they are
buying and what are they getting for
their dollar. Legislation’s has helped to
provide consumers with some important
information and assistance. Yet the
consumer movement is more than just a
need for more data. Consumers also
want product safety; and when
manufacturers overlook it then lawsuit is
likely. As a result more and more
companies have begun in recent years
to pay close attention to the liability
laws and the development of safety
checklists that help ensure the requisite
quality in their product.

Recent evidence, in the form of
codes of conduct and employee
assistance programs, indicates
that the challenge of social
responsibility is going to be here
indefinitely. Further, all signs
indicate that business is both
willing and able to respond to it.

International Management

There is not enough darkness in the world

to put out the light of even one small

In deciding whether or not to go

international, a firm must evaluate many
factors. It can begin analyzing the possible
advantages and disadvantages associated with
such an undertaking. On the positive side are
profit, stability and the possibility of a foothold in
an economic union e.g. EEC, ASEAN and NAFTA.
On the negative side are unfamiliar customs
and cultures, delicate company-government
relations, risk, expropriation and the possibility
of having to bring in foreign partners which for
many businesses, constitutes the biggest
drawback. In an effort to hedge their risks, many
firms are turning to joint ventures.

If a company decides to go ahead with a
foreign operation, it must find an
appropriate organization structure, which
will depend, of course, on the amount of
involvement it is willing to undertake. For
some firms a branch organization will do;
for others a subsidiary is necessary.

The next question is one of
control. Which is best: heavy,
intermediate or light? Most firms
opt for intermediate. Then comes
staffing, which entails identifying
qualified people and offering them
sufficient monetary incentive and
upward mobility to get them to go

Most multinational firms are
American, and they carry a good
deal of economic power in the
international arena. However, with
this power comes responsibility and
one of the challenges of the 1990s
will be to continue incorporating
foreign nationals into upper ranks of
management. In so doing, the
multinational firms will become truly
international in nature.

Management In The Future

Decisions, ideas and directives lost

much of their usefulness and vigor
because of delay. What is actual is
actual only for one time. And only
for one place.

Management has come a long way
since the days of the early classical
theorists. It has received contributions
from many people in many fields
including psychology, sociology and
anthropology. Thus management
thought has not developed in one
basic direction. Rather, it has
branched out into three schools:
management process,
quantitative and behavioral.

What does the future hold?

In one respect it will be more of the

same: continued emphasis on system
theory; the development of modern
organization structures; increased
research on human behavior in
organizations and greater attention
to the management of change. Other
developments on the management
horizon include a continued focus on
the key result areas, the
management of employee talent and
the continuing trend towards

Managers of the future will need to be aware of
these developments. However, this knowledge, in
and of itself, is no guarantee of success.

The challenges of management are too great to

be solved by simple knowledge of effective
management process and practices. On the other
hand, for those who have the ability and the
desire to study, to work and continue to learn;
the opportunities and rewards in the field of
management promise to be very great indeed?

The sky is the limit.

Thank you.