Management Science and Science Management: Prospects for Theory Development

Lieberman, A.J. (1981). Management Science and Science Management: Prospects for Theory Development. IIASA Professional Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: PP-81-011

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Current trends in the development of management science are characterized by increasing usage of advanced mathematics and by large scale computer programs and data structures based on simplistic formulations conforming to the requirements of traditional analytical techniques. What was originally conceived as management aids for practical operational problems is rapidly becoming an esoteric branch of mathematics ill-suited to most management concerns and incomprehensible to most managers. Rather than striving to critique and improve management science's basic assumptions, formulations, and concepts to reflect more accurately the problem contexts addressed, management scientists have tended to maintain traditional formulations and concepts, and concentrated instead on adding new and more complex analytical procedures to their repertoire. As a consequence, the history of management science is filled with both successes and failures, and some consider the record rather dismal compared to both expectations and potential.

In a second, unrelated context of science management, developments in theory are Virtually non-existent in the West, the science of science is still in its infancy in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, and the practice of science management remains largely a craft dependent on personal skill and intuition.

These two fields have much to offer each other, though little interaction and mutual interest currently exists. For the development of management science, science management offers a rich empirical base of problems and discernible decision processes both requiring and encouraging the emergence of new analytical formulations for descriptive and prescriptive studies in decisionmaking. For improvements in science management, though management science may offer little usefulness as a technique-laden scientific approach to rational decisionmaking, it may be quite helpful as a source of concepts and strategy alternatives to science managers in particular problem situations.

The purpose of this paper is to identify the prospects that science management offers as a context for further developments in management science theory and analytical formulations. These prospects are abundant largely because of the exceptional nature of science management as a field clearly incompatible with the assumptions and focus of traditional management science frameworks. Additionally, current trends in management science formulations are reflected in many critical issues of science management, and thus may gain support from studies and approaches to those issues. Also, other science management problems require novel analytical approaches and challenge management scientists to create them. Why has science management been so neglected by management scientists? How can the obstacles it poses be turned to opportunities for new theory development? What kinds of developments can be expected to emerge from a focus on science management problems? These and other questions are answered in this brief introduction of science management to management scientists.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Professional Paper)
Research Programs: General Research (GEN)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:50
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:10

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