Before taking the course, I used to think that management is an art but now I believe management is both science and an art. One thing that really struck me was the timeless nature of different theories as they are as practical today as they were decades ago. One reason may be that they are all flexible in nature and instead of providing an exact formula for effective management, the theories merely attempt to provide guidelines. This course has also taught me that the field of management science didn’t develop in isolation but instead borrows material from many other fields including psychology and sociology.
The things I most enjoyed in the course were cases and discussions. Class readings and PowerPoint slides would help me get basic idea of the theories but it were cases and class discussions that really helped me grasp the subject material well. Cases required us to apply the theories to issues at hands which forced us to consider the applications of the concepts in the real world. Similarly, class discussions helped me benefit from the experiences of other students and gain a better idea of how workplaces have been evolving over time. These discussions particularly helped me realize that management is not an exact science or art but a combination of both and any manager or leader should examine the organizational culture, prevalent circumstances, and employees to determine how to best apply the theories.
These theories also emphasize the fact that employees are not merely factors of production but individuals with unique needs who may react differently to rewards and punishment. I also liked the fact that these theories realize individuals may have different learning styles and it amazed me that despite these some of these theories being decades old, they are only being applied properly now. It may be due to the fact that competition has increased and organizations have understood the importance of human capital in maintaining competitiveness.
There are certain strategies that may make the course even more productive in my opinion. One strategy may be to bring employees from both big and small companies as guest lecturers who could throw light on their experiences. Similarly, I have seen some movies which address the issue of employee management and the course instructor could screen some of these movies outside class timings. Such movies could be shown as extra credit assignments to ensure students don’t think they are being burdened with extra workload unnecessarily.
While we often discussed the implications of these theories at workplaces, I wondered sometimes whether these theories are applicable abroad as well where the cultures may be quite different from the U.S. or these theories only have applications in western cultures like the U.S. I have heard that some countries have quite different workplace cultures such as Japan where employment is sometimes guaranteed for life though it may change or may already be changing.
Overall, this course has been an interesting experience and has given me a new perspective on workplace culture. I used to think that workplace cultures develop on their own over time but it seems that management and employees play an important role in creating the workplace culture.