Definition, Meaning and characteristics of Principles of Management.

A principle is a fundamental truth and is generally stated in the form of cause and effect inter-relationship. Management principles are the statement of general truth providing guide to thought or action. In the words of Herbert G. Hicks, “Principles of management are the guiding rules of laws for managerial action.”

In the words of Kantooz and O’ Donnell, “Management principles are fundamental truth of general validity.” These truths are the  guiding pillars in the managerial execution of functions and solution to problems. Every social science has developed its own principles. Management is also a social science and thus it has developed a number of management principles from time to time.

Henry Foyol, a French industrialist, offered fourteen principles of management for the first time in 1916. During the period of 1920-40s in the USA many authors did hard work in developing and testing various principles of management. Today, there is a very lengthy list of management principles and it is not possible to give an exhaustive list of them.

In order to derive principles following steps are taken as:

  • Observation and study of the problem.
  • Testing the principles.
  • Choice of the problem or opportunity.
  • Making hypothesis.
  • Conclusion and forecasting.

Observing and study of the problem: Researchers in management observe the problems carefully in different situations and from different angles. They have to study deeply the problem, its causes, magnitude, consequences and find their solutions.

Testing the Principles: The principles formed must be scientifically tested and verified. Before generalization of the principles testing under different situations is a must.

Choice of the problem or opportunity: The researchers in management science identify the area where general principles of business management are lacking or need modification.

Making hypothesis: On the basis of observation and the data collection a hypothesis is formed, under assumed situation what is expected to happen. For example, there will be more output, as wages are paid according to piece-rate system.

Conclusion and forecasting: The next step will be to reach the logical conclusion and predict the specific happenings under assumed situations. Thus, the management principles are not as exact as principles of physical sciences, because management is a social science and thus a victim of the nearness of social sciences. It deals with the human beings whose behaviors are always unpredictable, because they have go individually different socio-economic status, needs and perceptions. Secondly, it deals with the complex problems about which to little is known, though a lot of principles have been derived out of experiments, observation and enquiry. These principles are being satisfactorily applied but we cannot say that we have attained the perfection stage. Invention and improvement of theories in every discipline is a continuous process. The existing management principles are satisfactorily effective in understanding the complex management problems. These principles are applied in the real situations of managing  business enterprises and achieving handsome results.

Nature/ Characteristics features of principles of management

Nature of management principles stands for special features or characteristics of management principles. Following are the important features of the management principles:

Universal application: Principles of management are applied in every situation, where the objectives are attained through group efforts. All organizations such as social, political, cultural or even religious organizations apply for the successful operations of their activities. Every organization must make the best possible use of its available resources  by the application of management principles i.e., planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling effectively and achieve the desired result.

Flexibility: Management principles are dynamic guidelines and not satic rules. management helps the business in multiplying its profit at minimum cost. The business situation and its socio-economic environment is enough to suit the size, nature, needs and situations of the business. Improvement and modification of management principles is a continuing process, so the principles of management is always flexible.

General Statement: Management principles are concerned mostly with human behavior which cannot be tested under controlled conditions i.e., a laboratory. Human behavior is always unpredictable. So, management principles are not as exact as the principles of physical science. In this way, the management principles are merely statements.

It influences human behavior: Human element is an essential factor of production. It activities and extracts work form other factor also. Every worker is individually different from the other workers as regards his ability, knowledge, skill, socio-economic status, attitudes and ideologies. Management is concerned with the integration of individual efforts and how to decentralize them towards achieving the desired results. so, management principles is said to be a work and group activity. Thus, management principles aim at influencing individual efforts and directing them to the minimization of profit with the minimum wattage and the best possible utilization of available resources.

Cause and effect relationship: The management principles also form cause and effect relationship. It indicates the consequences of its principles, for instance if wages are paid on the basis of piece-rate system the quantity of work will be more, but the quality will suffer. If the principles of unity of command is adopted, the confusion, duplication and overlapping will be avoided. In the same way, other principles also,indicate the relationship between principles, their consequences and results.

Equal importance: There is no inferiority or superiority between the principles no one principle has greater significance than the other. We cannot say the principles of unity of command is more important than the principle of unity of direction. In this way all the principles of management are equally important.

Careful and discreet application: Principles of management cannot be applied blindly, because there principles are relative, not absolute. Thus these principles should be according to organizational needs and situations.

Decision-making: Management in always concerned with decision making factors of production are scarce and they also have alternative uses. So, management has to decide the best possible combination of available resources, and most suitable techniques of production applied. In this way, management principles are therefore the basis of decision making.

Management principles and its importance

Principles of management are very important for the successful management of organisation in its real situations. These are important guidelines to the management. These principles point out the areas where management should concentrate immediate attention. They simplify the process of management, increase the overall efficiency and help in achieving the desired objective of the business. Following factors are summarized below irrespective of significance of management principles:

  • It increases the efficiency of the management: Principles of management provides guidelines to the manager for handling complex problems more effectively. It also facilitates managers in performing this duties smoothly. Thus the efficiency of the management is increased and the managers adopts systematic and scientific approach towards the solution of the problem.
  • It helps in achieving social objective: Management develops spirit of co-operation and co-ordination among workers and their employees. It also helps in the optimum utilization of social resources. It eliminates unnecessary wastage of resources. These days, principles of management are directed at maximum profit without loss of social values. Thus, the management must supply commodities at fair price, not including the adulteration and make payment of reasonable wages to their workers.
  • It generates sound understanding: The management principles generate sound understanding of the difficult problems of business enterprises. The management applies scientific approach for the solution of the complex problem. In this regard, managing the enterprise and incur wastage of resources.
  • It directs the areas of training: the principles of management identify the present and prospective areas of management. For this managers should be specially trained. Business situations are themselves difficult and they change considerably with the change in social, political and economic situations. So, the principle of management make significance in finding the areas and impart requisite training program to their executives.
  • It guides to research work in management: The management principles needed to make guidelines which requires necessary modifications with the changing situations. In order to make management meaningful and practical utility, researchers examine these principles justify this utility and suggest various modification, if necessary.

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