Topic outline

  • Course Introduction

    Management refers to the organization and coordination of work to produce a desired result. A manager is a person who practices management by working with and through people in order to accomplish his or her organization's goals. When you think of the term manager, you may be imagining your supervisor as he or she hires and terminates employees and makes major decisions above your authority. However, although you may not view yourself in this way, you yourself may also be a manager. In fact, many of us practice management skills in the workplace every day. You may have a team of employees that you manage, or lead a project that requires management strategy, or demonstrate leadership qualities among your peers. These are all scenarios that require you to apply the principles of management. In this course, you will learn to recognize the characteristics of proper management by identifying what successful managers do and how they do it. Understanding how managers work is just as beneficial for the subordinate employee as it is for the manager. This course is designed to teach you the fundamentals of management as they are practiced today. 

    Management began to materialize as a practice during the Industrial Revolution, as large corporations began to emerge in the late 19th century and developed and expanded into the early 20th century. Many large corporations during the early 1900s did not have any competition and thus dominated their industries. At the time, each employee was seen as a cog in a wheel - a useful yet expendable part of a business's operation. But the development of the assembly line in the 1910s and 1920s and the attendant automation of production processes drove changes in management strategy and required businesses to rethink how they managed their resources (i.e. their people, finances, capital, and tangible assets). The fundamental concepts of modern management were famously explored by Frederick Winslow Taylor, an American engineer who wrote The Principles of Scientific Management. Published in 1911 and based on research conducted by Taylor, the book's analysis aimed to couple the efficiency needs of a business with the specialized talents of its employees. Taylor's conclusion was that employees are almost always driven by the desire to earn money. Because businesses at the time had very little production capacity, the principles of management aimed toward driving sales by enticing employees with more money for increased production. As such, modern management's focus was on producing as much product as possible to meet consumer demand for goods and services. 

    By the late 20th century, automation, higher educational levels, and the push for speed had changed management practices, and businesses had by and large moved away from a top-down, centralized direction style and toward leaner organization with less regimentation. Nevertheless, Taylor's theories and their lessons remain important as a foundation for understanding how to manage large projects that require a variety of skills and a large number of workers. 

    This course will illustrate the ways in which the practice of management evolves as firms grow in size. Historically, middle managers have served as so-called "gatekeepers" who collect, analyze, and pass information up and down the management chain within an organization. But two recent developments at the turn of the 21st century - namely, low-cost data manipulation in computers and the emergence of widespread, real-time communication (in the forms of inexpensive, long-distance global calling, email, text messaging, and social media) - have reduced the need for these middle-manager gatekeepers, and companies have eliminated thousands of such positions. The goal? To speed the flow of information and decision-making and reduce the number of layers that separate the customer from the leadership of an organization. 

    This course is based upon the idea that the essential purpose of a business is to produce products and services in order to meet the needs and wants of the marketplace. A manager marshals an organization's resources (its people, finances, facilities, and equipment) toward this fundamental goal. In this course, you will explore the tasks that today's managers perform and delve into the key knowledge areas that managers need to master in order to run successful and profitable businesses.
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  • Unit 1: What Is Management?

    In this introductory unit, you will begin your exploration of the practice of management. In human society there has always been a need for some degree of management in order to organize the efforts of individuals for the common (and individual) good. Even in very primitive times, gathering food, protecting against predators, and caring for the young required humans to coordinate and organize in order to achieve common goals.

    Put simply, the term management refers to the coordination of work activities through and with other people to accomplish the goals of an organization. In this unit, you will explore the various functions of management. Management involves not only coordination, but also planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Over the years, the common definition of management has become less specific, as managerial functions have come to include staffing, directing, and reporting. In modern companies, there are fewer layers of management, as today's organizations rely instead on the delegation of responsibilities and authority in order to achieve goals. As a result, today's managers now speak in terms of "leading” or "guiding” people, rather than giving instructions for every action.
    Management is both an art and a science, and ultimately you will need more than one course on management to fully develop your own management ability. Still, even if you have no aspirations to manage a team, you may need to lead projects, manage committees, and/or interact with managers. Understanding what makes a good manager is one of the biggest factors in the success of an organization and its employees.

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  • Unit 2: Historical Development and Globalization

    The more complex an organization and its operations, the more active a role management plays. Successful management imposes a degree of order and discipline so that work can be accomplished expeditiously, no matter what the size of the organization, how many countries it operates in, or how much of its work is performed virtually.
      
    In this unit, you will explore various theories of management throughout history, paying close attention to Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management theory, which was widely practiced in the industrial age of the 20th century. You will also take stock of more contemporary, 21st-century approaches to management, which tend to be better suited to organizations in knowledge-based industries (as opposed to those in manufacturing). Finally, you will begin to examine management from a global perspective.
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  • Unit 3: Organizational Culture, Diversity, and Ethics

    In this unit, you will look at organizational culture and how it provides a company with its own workplace climate and personality. Organizational culture includes attitudes, values, and work styles which, when managed properly, can lead to a highly productive workforce.
     
    A diverse workforce brings together people from different backgrounds. Each individual brings his or her own experiences and expertise to the table. The blending of these backgrounds can enhance productivity by allowing for the free flow of new ideas and creativity. This unit will explore the importance of a diverse workforce, and how managers can make the most of their employees' individual knowledge and approaches in order to reach corporate goals.
     
    Management sets the tone not only for a corporate climate; it also sets the standard for personal behavior. In this unit you will also learn about the importance of ethics - that is, "doing what is right” or "doing the right thing.” In light of recent major business scandals borne out of unethical behavior, almost all business schools have devoted aspects of their curricula to the study of ethics. In order to understand how to apply ethics to different circumstances, you must understand how ethics can vary based on differences in society, culture, and politics. There are a number of different philosophies purporting to explain how to apply ethics to decision-making, but none of them are absolute. However, understanding these various philosophies can help you reach workplace decisions that are more ethically grounded.
     
    This unit will conclude with an exploration of business ethics in the modern-day workplace environment. An organization and its managers have duties - including legal and ethical responsibilities - that they must uphold as part of their service to their stakeholders, including investors, vendors, employees, and the communities in which the organization operates. 
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  • Unit 4: Leadership and Teams

    Throughout this course, we define managers as people who work with and through other people to accomplish the goals of an organization. One important managerial function we have not yet touched upon is motivation, or the ability to persuade and inspire others to commit to an organization and its goals. A good leader must be a good manager if he or she wishes to get a lot accomplished. In order to get work done, managers must often foster collaboration between employees so that individuals with different skills from different parts of a company can successfully contribute to projects. The concept of collaboration has evolved into the practice of creating teams comprising specific individuals with complementary skills who gather around a common purpose. This purpose might include accomplishing a specific task, addressing a particular problem, revising an internal company process, etc. 

    The term teamis used so frequently today that the meaning of this concept is often diluted. Still, contemporary companies and organizations rely on the efforts of different kinds of teams, and many times an organization will pull together teams with members scattered over multiple geographic locations - including, even, multiple countries - in an effort to bring together the skills and competencies needed to address a significant task. 

    One of the key roles of any manager is to establish the goals and purposes of a team and to select appropriate team members. From there, the team will - more or less independently - work to accomplish its purpose under the supervision of a leader, who must organize and manage the team effectively. 

    What does a successful team look like? Would you be surprised to know that the best teams actually experience conflicts? In fact, conflict can be a productive force capable of generating new ideas and multiple options for consideration. The key is to avoid letting professional conflict spill over into personal relationships, a task that is difficult to achieve without careful study and practice. In this unit, you will look at the different stages of group development in order to learn how to create a successful team and avoid the common pitfalls of working with a team. 
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  • Unit 5: Managing Employees: Motivation, Empowerment, and Conflict Resolution

    One of your most important functions as a manager is motivating your employees to do their best while attempting to meet corporate goals. When employees are motivated, they will seek out ways to improve their work production and maximize their performance. By giving employees the freedom to act on their own knowledge and skills, you will encourage them to ultimately be more productive for the company by fully utilizing their skill sets and, in the process, growing as professionals.

    Every work environment encompasses a wide variety of personalities and professional styles. As a result, conflicts are sure to arise. Effective managers know how to address a conflict when it arises and how to frequently work in concert with others to ensure a speedy resolution. 
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  • Unit 6: Human Resource Management

    "Business - real business - isn't about money. It's about people. You have to know and understand people.”
              - André Meyer
     
    The late André Meyer was a financier who collaborated with corporations in countries around the world. He served as an advisor to leaders of state and worked as the head of the investment-banking firm Lazard Frères. Despite the fact that his career was entirely focused on raising capital and profits, Meyer saw people - including the employees of a company - as the most important aspect of business success. Meyer's belief still resonates in today's business world. Indeed, knowing how to implement effective and strategic human resource management is a crucial skill for any manager.
     
    Human resource management (HRM) exists in many forms. We often think about Human Resources as the company department that handles paychecks and benefits, or the office an employee visits when he or she encounters a problem such as harassment or discrimination. However, HRM oversees many more responsibilities than these traditional tasks. Perhaps the most important change in the practice of HRM has occurred within the recruiting of top-quality employees for a firm. Historically, HR staff, rather than company managers, have recruited and sifted through applications to find candidates to interview for positions at a company. But HR department staff often lack the knowledge necessary to effectively screen for many newer, more technical positions - a situation in which a manager's expertise and input greatly benefit the hiring process.
     
    In the 21st century, as companies work harder to attract and recruit talent, modern HRM is developing a more strategic nature. For example, a top HR executive today will most likely report directly to the CEO and play an integral role in executing a company's strategy. To stay competitive, today's managers must also work in conjunction with HR to be able to quickly and reliably identify the skill sets and personal characteristics that are needed to increase productivity in a company's present and future workforce. 
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  • Unit 7: Planning and Strategy Formulation

    Managers plan and coordinate the work of others so that an organization can achieve its goals. In their planning function, managers identify needed resources (e.g. people, finances, equipment, etc.) and organize them so that employees can accomplish activities and meet set objectives.
     
    In addition to setting company-wide strategy and long-term goals, managers also create interim, short-term goals as a means of focusing the activities of an organization and providing direction to employees.

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  • Unit 8: Decision-Making

    The essential function of a manager is to make decisions. Decision-making is about making choices between or among alternatives in order to advance toward a goal or objective. In our personal lives, decision-making can involve determining many things, such as where we live, what foods we eat, and who our friends are. In business, decision-making can revolve around the products and services that a company offers, the markets it serves, the people it hires, and so on. 
     
    In this unit, we will look at the decision-making process, paying close attention to some of the latest research on what is commonly referred to as "the art of choosing.” You will learn how decision-making involves elements of both logic and emotion; after all, we are all human, and emotion often affects how we choose.

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  • Unit 9: Organization Structure, Change, and the Future of Management

    For a company to be effective and profitable, a strong organizational structure must be in place. This structure provides a framework from which all goals are set and helps individuals and departments know where they fit within the company's organization. 
     
    One of management's most important responsibilities is to ensure a strong organizational structure. In this unit, you will explore in more detail the various aspects of organizational structure, including what happens when a structure changes. Such change can occur due to new developments in the marketplace, competitive factors, and/or the development of new theories of management.

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  • Course Evaluation Survey

    Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course at the link below. Consider completing the survey whether you have completed the course, you are nearly at that point, or you have just come to study one unit or a few units of this course.

    Link: Course Evaluation Survey (HTML)

    Your feedback will focus our efforts to continually improve our course design, content, technology, and general ease-of-use. Additionally, your input will be considered alongside our consulting professors' evaluation of the course during its next round of peer review. As always, please report urgent course experience concerns to contact@saylor.org and/or our Discourse forums.

  • Final Exam

    Quizzes: 3