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Management theory

Management History and Trends
The primary objective of this chapter is to provide the reader with a general
historical background on the field of management. Many of the terms and
concepts noted in Chapters 1 and 2 have developed from classic and contemporary management theory and practice. If you have taken college courses in
business or management, the terms, concepts, and people noted in this chapter should not be new to you. Before moving into the specific areas of external
environments, planning, organizational design, and human resource management, it seems appropriate to explore the source of the current management
systems used to operate all organizations.
A basic assumption of this text is that management is an art. In this case, an art
is typically defined as an ability or special skill that someone develops and applies.
Studying the theories of management, synthesizing the application of these
theories to a practical work environment, and then creating a workable system
for a specific organization require a tremendous amount of thought and effort.
It is often a lifetime job.
Management can also be considered to be a social science. Although the idea
of “science” in the workplace may not be very appealing to an aspiring arts
manager, the reality is that applying some of the techniques noted in this
chapter may help make a stronger arts organization.
As we will see, the general concept of scientific management is not universally
welcomed in the workplace. The term describes a particular approach to maximizing productivity by applying research and quantitative analysis to the
work process. The creation of general and specific management theories to
explain and predict how organizations and people behave is also integral to
thinking of management as a science.
At the center of any theory is the ability to predict an outcome if given a specific set of circumstances. A scientist develops a theory, conducts experiments,
establishes an outcome that can be repeated by others, and provides proof
of the theory. Management theory tries to achieve a similar goal: predictable
outcomes given controlled inputs. Unfortunately, the science of management,
as with any social science, is sometimes subject to unanticipated outcomes.
In management science, numerous other variables, including the behavior
of employees in the work environment, can quickly undermine a theory.
Applying the techniques used by social scientists can assist a manager in the
process of running an organization.
Management as an Art and a Social Science
On-the-job management theory
When studying management theory and practice, which are often examined
by using case studies, it becomes apparent that many managers enter into the
practice of managing with virtually no theoretical background. Whether in the
arts or business, not having formal training has never been a barrier to running
an organization. For example, the late Katherine Graham, who once owned
the Washington Post, had no formal training in business management. The sudden death of her husband thrust her into the role of chief executive officer.
Nonetheless, she was able to successfully operate a major newspaper using her
personal abilities and adaptability. She was able to learn on the job and to further develop her own operating theories and practices to maintain a successful business. For every Katherine Graham there are many other people in the
workplace less successful at playing the role of manager. Your local bookstore
is stocked with readings about how employees should deal with the boss or
supervisor who does not seem to have mastered the art of managing. (For more
information about Katherine Graham go to:
In Chapter 2 we saw that Paul DiMaggio’s 1987 study for the National
Endowment for the Arts demonstrated more than 85 percent of the arts managers in theaters, art museums, orchestras, and arts associations said that
they learned from on-the-job training.1 The university-trained arts managers
surveyed claimed that their schooling did not adequately prepare them for
many of the demands of running an organization. The numbers of universitytrained arts managers has increased in the last few years, but it is still safe to
say that the experience of the workplace is required to complete the education
of any arts manager.
The effective manager
Regardless of how an individual learns the art and science of management,
an effective manager must eventually be able to analyze variables and predict outcomes based on experience. In other words, the manager must find
a set of operating principles that can be used day to day. For example, an arts
manager might have to say to the Board, “If we raise prices, ticket orders will
decline based on discretionary spending patterns of our audiences. Or, if we
change our subscription plans, fewer people will order because any change
creates confusion. Or, if we perform nothing but concerts of modern music, a
significant portion of our subscribers will stay home.” These statements may
all be true and based on good scientific research, but that does not mean the
Board will follow the manager’s recommendation. It may be perfectly appropriate, given the mission, for an organization to make a decision that will
Management History and Trends
produce a negative outcome. An effective manager should be able to articulate her expectations of outcomes based on an understanding of the effects of
variables on particular decisions. Obviously, experience is and always will be
a great teacher.
To be an effective arts manager one should have an awareness and appreciation of the overall field of management. The rest of this chapter focuses on
some of the major theories and principles that shape management today.
For the last several thousand years, organized social systems have managed the
resources needed to feed, house, and protect people. The evolution of management is intertwined with the development of the social, religious, and economic systems needed to support cities, states, and countries. The church and
state provided the first systems for planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. These management systems were predicated on philosophies that placed
people within complex hierarchies.
History provides many examples of management systems established by the
Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese. Many basic principles of supervision and control evolved from the projects undertaken by these societies. Building temples,
pyramids, and other massive structures required extensive management and
organizational skill. Organizing massive armies to go forth and conquer the
known world required detailed organizational planning and logistical coordination. Many modern management concepts expanded on the skill needed to
implement public works projects as the world shifted from an agrarian to an
industrial base.
A change in philosophies
The decline in the control of the Catholic Church in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the subsequent religious struggles created by the rise
of Protestantism, slowly changed the fundamental relationship of people to
their governmental and religious systems. The seeds of the Protestant work
ethic were planted in the new order. The expansion of trade and the creation
of a permanent middle class grew out of the changes brought about by the
national and international economic systems.
The effects of the Renaissance and the Reformation extended far beyond rediscovering the ideas and philosophies of antiquity. The development of new
political and social theories of government and management by such theorists
as Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Adam Smith led to