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Philosophy of Management

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2003

What is Management

Bruce G. Charlton, Peter Andras
Pages 3-15

What Is Management and What Do Managers Do? A Systems Theory Account

Systems Theory analyses the world in terms of communications and divides the natural world into environment and systems. Systems are characterised by their high density of communications and tend to become more complex and efficient with time, usually by means of increased specialisation and coordination of functions. Management is an organisational sub-system which models all necessary aspects of organisational activity such that this model may be used for monitoring, prediction and planning of the organisation as a whole. The function of a specific management system depends on its history of selection by interactions with the environment (which includes other systems). The main function of a management system will be a consequence of the most powerful and sustained selection pressure it has experienced. Systems Theory implies a management science which is quantitative and comparative. It is quantitative because it is based upon the measurement and mapping of communications as the basis of analysis; it is comparative because evaluations relate to specific variables measured in a specific spatio-temporal context and subjected to analytic processes of constrained complexity. Selection processes are broadly responsible for the dominance of management in contemporary Western societies. The complexity of management systems will probably continue to increase for as long as the efficiency-enhancing potential of complexity outweighs its increased transaction costs.

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