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Distinction Between Management and Administration Functions

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A freelance writer since 2011 and has been graduated from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi, India

Management and Administration functions


Management and Administration

Management and administration are two terms that are given different interpretations as well as used as synonyms.

Management and Administration as Two Distinct Terms

The distinction between the terms management and administration is often attempted with reference to the nature of enterprises and managerial levels.

Distinction based on Nature of enterprises: According to one view, it is more appropriate that the term management is used with respect to enterprises having an economic orientation. In other words, the term management should relate to economic enterprises (business enterprises) whose primary goal is the generation of surplus. The term administration is preferred with respect to government enterprises pursuing social and political activities and whose primary objective is other than the surplus generation.

Distinction based on managerial levels: Management and administration are used as two separate terms in the contest of the single enterprise keeping in view managerial functions and hierarchy. Subscribing to this view, there are two schools of thought.

1. American School of thought: According to this school of thought, the administration is a broader concept than management. It sets objectives that management strives to realize and lays down policies under which management operates. Management, on the other hand, is the force that leads, directs, and guides the organization in the accomplishment of predetermined objectives. Thus, according to this school, the administration is a thinking function or a top-level function involved in planning, setting objectives, and policies. Whereas management is a doing function or lower-level function engaged in the execution of the plans.

2. British school of thought: According to this school of thought, management is a wider concept than administration. Management is the rulemaking and rule enforcing body. It performs top-level functions of the organization. Whereas administration handles the current problems which arise in carrying out the policies laid down by the management. This school emphasizes that management is an all-encompassing and comprehensive term and administration is part of it.

Reconciling the two schools of thought: In an attempt to solve the terminological problem, management is categorized as administrative management and operative management. Administrative management is top management in charge of the planning function. Operative management is middle and lower-level management responsible for the execution of the plans.

Management and Administration as Synonyms

Another viewpoint is that administration and management are synonymous terms. Any attempt to distinguish between them is misleading. All managers, irrespective of their level in the organization, perform the same managerial functions. Hence no two sets of personnel are required to discharge administrative and managerial functions in a single enterprise. In fact, top management is chiefly concerned with performing administrative activities, whereas managers at lower levels are predominantly concerned with executive functions.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Jacob


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