Universality of Management
The Universality of Management is the matter of debate as different scholars have different views on whether it is a science with universal application or not. The concept of Management suggests that transmission of management knowledge may be undertaken:
1. By managers from an industrially developed country working in developing country.
2. By people from a developing country coming to study or work in an industrially advanced country and returning back to their home country.
3. Through Training and Development Programmes for managers in developing country.
Thus managerial knowledge can be transferred from one person to another, from one firm to another in the same country and from once country to another. This exchange of managerial knowledge is only possible if it has universal application. However there are two varying groups of arguments: one suggests that management is universal in nature and other suggests it is not universally applicable.
Arguments for Universality
Experts favouring the concept of universality of management suggest that the basics of management are universal and can be found in all types of organizations situation in any country or culture. Following arguments can be advanced to suggest the view of universality of management.
1. Management as Process
Management as a process is universal. It is argued that management as a process is found in all organized activities irrespective of country, culture or size.
2. Distinction between Management Fundamentals and Techniques
Management fundamentals are the basic principles and theories while management techniques are the tools for performing managerial functions. Whereas management techniques may differ from country to country, management fundamentals will remain the same.
3. Distinction between Management Fundamentals and Practice
Universality of management suggests that management fundamentals are the same, only practices differ. This is so because management is both science and art. While the practice may differ according to the nature of the organization, the basic fundamentals of management will remain the same.
Arguments against Universality
According to this view, management is completely situational and universality of management is not applicable. Thus what managers do depends on the circumstances. Management Principles which are effective in one country may not be effective in another country. Not only that even two organizations within the same country may apply different management principles. There are certain factors which affect the application of a principle or a set of principles of management. These factors are :
1. Cultural characteristics
2. Management philosophy
3. Organizational objectives
1. Cultural characteristics
Management is culture bound and the application of management principles is determined by the culture of a country. Since cultural characteristics of one country differ from others, hence applicability of management principles. Hofstede has concluded that people vary on five dimensions of national cultural: individual and collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity and time orientation.
i. Individualism Vs. Collectivism
Individualism is the extent to which people place value on themselves or they define themselves by referring themselves as singular persons rather than as part of a group or organization. For them individual tasks are more important than relationships. Collectivism suggests that the self is secondary to the group and its norms, values and beliefs. To them relationships are more important than individuals or tasks.
Countries that value individualism are USA, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand. Countries that value collectivism are Japan, Columbia, Pakistan, Singapore, Venezuela and Philippines. India can be placed near to collectivism.
ii. Power Distance
Power distance shows the degree to which people in a country accept that power in organizations is distributed equally or unequally. Power distance is low when there is equal power distribution and it is high when there is unequal power distribution. People of country with low power distance prefer freedom of work and self-control. People of a country with high power distance prefer management practices that follow work in a structured form and require high degree of supervision and control.
Australia, for example, is a low power distance country while Asian countries such as Hong Kong are at the high power distance side of the spectrum.
iii. Uncertainty Avoidance
It is the degree to which people in a country prefer certainty of results which is the result of structured situations or uncertainty which is the result of unstructured situations. In many countries, people prefer unambiguity while in many other countries, people can tolerate ambiguity easily.
Examples of countries with low uncertainty avoidance scores include the United States, England, India, China, and Singapore. Examples of countries with high uncertainty avoidance scores include Italy, Korea, Mexico, Belgium, and Russia.
iv. Masculinity Vs. Feminism
It includes quantity and quality of life. It indicates the degree to which people of a country are self-possessed and money minded. In countries with masculine culture people give importance to money and material goods. In a country with feminine culture, people give importance to quality of life and prefer relationships and show concern for others. Mexico, Japan and Italy are examples of countries with masculine cultures. The US falls closer to a masculine society than a feminine one due to the emphasis on financial success, power and dominance. Countries like Thailand, Norway, Denmark, and Finland are feminine centered cultures.
v. Time Orientation
Time orientation is the degree to which people of a country put emphasis on future or past and present. Thus people have either long term orientation or short term orientation. In a country having long term orientation, people are future orientated and prefer thrift and tenacity. People with short term orientation care about immediate gratification than long term fulfillment. Countries like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea have long term orientation.
2. Management Philosophy
Differences in philosophies of various organisations put a limit on the person being a good manager in all types of organisations. Philosophy can mean an attitude toward certain activities as in a person’s philosophy of doing business. It may be an evaluation or interpretation of what is important or meaningful in life. Every organization, like an individual, has philosophy of doing business. Differences in philosophy of various organizations require different kinds of managerial techniques. Even two business organizations requires having different philosophy may require different types of managerial approaches.
3. Organizational Objectives
The objectives of an enterprise determine the type of management required. Peter Drucker feels that the skills, competence and experience of a management cannot as such be transferred and applied to the business organizations and running of other institutions. The basis of his view is that business organizations exist for economic ends and management consists of skills and techniques for attaining these needs. Since the main objective of the business – profit consistent with security and welfare of the business- differs from that of non- business organization, management can transfer only analysis; and administrative types of skills, abilities and experience.
The various arguments for and against the universality of management concept should be analyzed in an integrated way so as to arrive at a particular conclusion. This conclusion is important because developing countries can import managerial know-how and principles developed by the advanced countries if they are universal. An integrated analysis suggested that there are certain management principles which are universal though their practices may differ from country to country or from organisation to organization even within the same country.