Management science

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Management science is the discipline of using mathematics, and other analytical tools, to help make better business decisions.


Quotes are arranged in chronological order

20th century[edit]

Henry R. Towne is unquestionably the pioneer of management science. He began, as early as 1870, the systematic application at the Yale & Towne works, of what are now recognized as efficient management methods.
- John Robertson Dunlap eds. (1921, p. 231)

1910s - 1940s[edit]

  • Chapter XII. The Manager and the Instruments of Management
    Production is a synthesis of functions — always present but not all actually developed — sometimes quite rudimentary — how is synthesis to be effected — influence of strong personality — leadership essential to great results — manager is outside science of management — must use its principles, as chemist is outside the science of chemistry and uses its principles to effect his aims — management science provides the instruments, their successful wielding depends upon capacity of manager.
  • In the the past thirty years, what is now known as the science of industrial management has grown from a scattered, almost formless beginning into a well-defined, rapidly developing structure. Today this science bids fair to outstrip in public importance and economic usefulness any one of the great sciences that have been applied to serve mankind. For the science of industrial management is the great super-science that takes mechanics, chemistry, physics, electricity, psychology; and Burbank-like, grafts them all into one great, productive, ever-bearing plant.
    • John Robertson Dunlap ed. (eds.) Factory and Industrial Management, Vol. 61 (7), 1921, p. 218. Chapter entitled "A Milestone in Management Science."
  • Henry R. Towne is unquestionably the pioneer of management science. He began, as early as 1870, the systematic application at the Yale & Towne works, of what are now recognized as efficient management methods. In 1886, his paper "The Engineer as Economist," delivered before the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, probably inspired Frederick W. Taylor, then a young man of twenty, to devote his energies to the labor that formed his life work.
    • John Robertson Dunlap ed. (eds.) Factory and Industrial Management, Vol. 61 (7), 1921, p. 231; Cited in Bruce E. Kaufman (2008) Managing the Human Factor, p. 67.
  • As soon as Frederick W. Taylor's writings and accomplishments were generally known it became quite apparent that some of the principles developed as an outgrowth of Taylor's philosophy of scientific management of industry were capable of universal application The management of any undertaking, whether it be educational, political, military, religious, financial, mercantile or industrial, can best be developed by following the same principles which Taylor applied to factory management... This broader field is today designated as management engineering; its principles and methods are called management science and some of those who profess themselves as capable of giving competent advice in management science are
    • Professional Engineer, Vol. 11. (1926) p. 6: Chapter entitled "Management Science and Management Engineering".
  • The purpose of management science is to collect, arrange, and interpret experience gained in the exercise of the functions of management with a view to discovering principles having general validity, which, if applied will lead to maximum profit.
    • Industrial Society. Vol. 12 (1930), p. 270.
    The last decade has developed new and complex tools for management, in the form of high-speed computational, display, and communication techniques as well as of powerful analytical methods such as information theory, linear programing, and queueing theory. These tools are being applied to continuing industrial problems, such as production and labor force scheduling, inventory control, sales forecast, and data processing (flow of information), as well as to special problems arising in connection with planning, market analysis, and organization. There is a rapidly growing demand for those well trained in the management sciences. Special graduate training in this held may be based on undergraduate study leading to a bachelor's degree in such fields as business administration, engineering, mathematics or the physical sciences, economics, and psychology.
    • Charles Willcox (1948) General Register. University of Michigan, p. 176.


  • One cannot help but be struck by the diversity that characterizes efforts to study the management process. If it is true that psychologists like to study personality traits in terms of a person's reactions to objects and events, they could not choose a better stimulus than management science. Some feel it is a technique, some feel it is a branch of mathematics, or of mathematical economics, or of the "behavioral sciences," or of consultation services, or just so much nonsense. Some feel it is for management (vs. labor), some feel it ought to be for the good of mankind — or for the good of underpaid professors.
But this diversity of attitude, which is really characteristic of all fields of endeavor, is matched by another and more serious kind of diversity. In the management sciences, we have become used to talking about game theory, inventory theory, waiting line theory. What we mean by "theory" in this context is that if certain assumptions are valid, then such-and-such conclusions follow. Thus inventory theory is not a set of statements that predict how inventories will behave, or even how they should behave in actual situations, but is rather a deductive system which becomes useful if the assumptions happen to hold. The diversity of attitude on this point is reflected in two opposing points of view: that the important problems of management science are theoretical, and that the important problems are factual.
  • C. West Churchman, "Management Science — Fact or Theory?" Management Science, Vol. II, No. 2 (January, 1956), p. 185.
  • Management science is very young, measured in terms of practical accomplishments. Most of the other speakers will surely offer you more exciting ideas, at least insofar as prospects for immediate application are concerned. I feel a little like Joe Smith did when he opened his new haberdashery in the heart of a block filled with competitors advertising with large and seductive signs, such as: "Fire Sale — Everything Must Go," or "Bankrupt — Name Your Own Price," or "No One, But No One Undersells Jones." Smith met his competition by hanging a small but commanding sign reading simply "MAlN ENTRANCE," I would like to think that advances in management science will some day provide the main entrance to an understanding and treatment of key management problems, including some of those met in the field of research administration. As you see, I speak enthusiastically about the future of management science, as Dr. Walker has just done about the future of engineering science in general, and perhaps I overplay the prospects....
    • Proceedings of the Annual Conference on the Administration of Research New York University Press, 1956. p. 10.
  • Some successful management is based largely upon a technical knowledge of the business or enterprise. In this way, administration and guidance is given to workers attempting to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before. However, management also formulates plans and adopts strategies for carrying out the work or running the business. These plans include a broad, overall look at the group enterprise, particularly in its relation to concurrent and competing activities. Management, in addition, is concerned with communications among those engaged in the work of the enterprise. Relations between people is one of the most important factors in the management problem...
    Management science is generally the work of scientists and scientifically oriented people in the field of management. Scientific management, on the other hand, is the practice of management conducted in an orderly fashion. Although the new management science will be developed largely by scientists, we believe that this development cannot take place without the help and guidance of management practitioners. William Cooper, first president of TIMS, hopes that the Institute will provide a fertile meeting-ground for the practicing manager in business and government and the research scientist.
  • There will be no drastic revolution in management functions or organizations in order to encompass systems management. Rather, the adaptation of systems management theory to organizations has been and will continue to be an evolutionary process.
    • Jay Wright Forrester Management and Management Science (1959), as cited in: Howard L'Amie Sampson. A Model for Applying Systems Management Theory to a Large School System, 1968, p. 68.
  • In the past few years I have learned enough about what management science can do if it has the opportunity, to want to remove whatever roadblocks there are in the way. First, we need a better understanding on the part of management scientists of the whole scope, function and responsibility of management. Believe me, management is not simply the use of facts, figures and technology. It is not something all of which falls in the broad area of science as that word may be defined in a dictionary. If there is any one attribute which characterizes the successful executive, it is, I think, the ability to organize individuals with diverse ideas and diverse skills into working cooperative teams...
    • Edwin James Forsythe, ‎Palmer Clyde Pilcher (1959) Management science: a new organizational dimension: proceedings. p. 15.


  • In management science, it seems most likely to me that important developments will result from the efforts of research scientists working with management engineers and management people in their area. It is also possible that the accumulated, uncorrelated knowledge and experience of management people will have a valuable effort on any general general formulation concerning management.... Management science undoubtedly requires many disciplines, including mathematics, economics, psychology, sociology, engineering, and others. However, we believe that management science can also be defined as a separate science in its own right.
    • Charles West Churchman, ‎Michel Verhulst (1960) Management Sciences, Models and Techniques: Proceedings. Institute of Management Sciences. International Meeting; Cited in: Martin Kenneth Starr (1965) Executive readings in management science. p. 380.
  • We have overwhelming evidence that available information plus analysis does not lead to knowledge. The management science team can properly analyse a situation and present recommendations to the manager, but no change occurs. The situation is so familiar to those of us who try to practice management science that I hardly need to describe the cases.
    • C. West Churchman (1964) "Managerial acceptance of scientific recommendations". In: California Management Review Vol 7, p. 33. cited in: Peter P. Schoderbek (1971) Management systems. p. 199.
  • The purpose of management science is to secure improvement in social systems by means of the scientific method.
    • Attributed to C. West Churchman (1965) in Richard Mason (1994) Interfaces. Vol. 24, Nr 4-6, p. 67; Cited in: Arjang A. Assad, ‎Saul I. Gass (2011) Profiles in Operations Research: Pioneers and Innovators. p. 194.
  • The aim of management science is to display the best course of action in a given set of circumstances, and this must include all the circumstances.
  • When discussing management and science, I kept saying to myself over and over again that science could be looked at as a kind of management, or that management could be looked at as a kind of science. Saying that science can become a way of managing didn't imply automation or any other form of mechanical decision making, because none of this is science. Science is the creative discovery of knowledge. Management science is the process of trying to look at science as a management function. Similarly, management can be looked at as a scientific function, that is, as a way of finding out about the world.
    • C. West Churchman Challenge to Reason, 1968, p. 104; cited in: Werner Ulrich. "Remembering C. West Churchman." Ulrich's Bimonthly (formerly Picture of the Month) 2.4 (2004): 1-10.; Also cited in: Arjang A. Assad, ‎Saul I. Gass (2011) Profiles in Operations Research: Pioneers and Innovators. p. 183.


  • Decision theory can be pursued not only for the purposes of building foundations for political economy, or of understanding and explaining phenomena that are in themselves intrinsically interesting, but also for the purpose of offering direct advice to business and governmental decision makers. For reasons not clear to me, this territory was very sparsely settled prior to World War II. Such inhabitants as it had were mainly industrial engineers, students of public administration, and specialists in business functions, none of whom especially identified themselves with the economic sciences. Prominent pioneers included the mathematician, Charles Babbage, inventor of the digital computer, the engineer, Frederick Taylor and the administrator, Henri Fayol.
    During World War II, this territory, almost abandoned, was rediscovered by scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians concerned with military management and logistics, and was renamed “operations research” or “operations analysis.” So remote were the operations researchers from the social science community that economists wishing to enter the territory had to establish their own colony, which they called “management science”.
  • During and after World War II, a large number of academic economists were exposed directly to business life, and had more or less extensive opportunities to observe how decisions were actually made in business organizations. Moreover, those who became active in the development of the new management science were faced with the necessity of developing decision-making procedures that could actually be applied in practical situations. Surely these trends would be conducive to moving the basic assumptions of economic rationality in the direction of greater realism.
  • Now the salient characteristic of the decision tools employed in management science is that they have to be capable of actually making or recommending decisions, taking as their inputs the kinds of empirical data that are available in the real world, and performing only such computations as can reasonably be performed by existing desk calculators or, a little later electronic computers. For these domains, idealized models of optimizing entrepreneurs, equipped with complete certainty about the world - or, a worst, having full probability distributions for uncertain events - are of little use. Models have to be fashioned with an eye to practical computability, no matter how severe the approximations and simplifications that are thereby imposed on them...
    The first is to retain optimization, but to simplify sufficiently so that the optimum (in the simplified world!) is computable. The second is to construct satisficing models that provide good enough decisions with reasonable costs of computation. By giving up optimization, a richer set of properties of the real world can be retained in the models... Neither approach, in general, dominates the other, and both have continued to co-exist in the world of management science.


  • Management science is also known as management technology or industrial management or control technology or control technique. In the past, the management of industrial companies had been executed just by the intuition of capable and experienced personnel. However, if we can solve the problems occurring in management on a scientific basis, management can be executed not just by an intuition but by scientific studies.
    • Sōgo Okamura (1994) History of Electron Tubes. p. 73.

21th century[edit]


  • The management science approach can be traced from World War II (1 940s) to the present. This approach emphasizes the use of the scientific method and quantitative techniques to increase organizational success. Churchman, Ackoff, Arnoff, and Baldrige are associated with this approach. The primary characteristics of the management science approach are that it: (1) analyzes a large number of variables in a complex setting, (2) uses economic implications as a guideline for making management decisions, (3) uses mathematical modeling, and (4) uses computers. This approach is still evolving and, as more sophisticated analytical techniques are developed, is replacing the inventory control models, network models, and probability models in use today.
    • William D. Schmidt, ‎Donald Arthur Rieck (2000) Managing Media Services: Theory and Practice, p. 60.
  • Whereas the management science approach is focused on the problem characteristics, the perspective of the social science is primarily concerned with the characteristics of the decision makers and their social roles.
    • H.B.F. Gow, ‎R.W. Kay (2003) Emergency Planning for Industrial Hazards, p. 212.
  • Operations research has many precursors and allied fields, including Taylorism (after Frederick W. Taylor), scientific management and management science, industrial engineering and systems analysis. As one early textbook explained, the roots of OR "are as old as science and the management function. Its name dates back only to 1940" (Churchman et al. 1957: 3). Certainly its practitioners have expended much energy and ink in search of an acceptable definition of OR. Morse tried unsuccessfully to halt the debate by declaring OR to be 'the activity carried on by members of the Operations Research Society' (Morse 1953: 159) But his colleagues were not so easily dissuaded from debate. Much of the concern with definition focused on the sometimes elusive distinctions between OR and neighbouring fields; the attempt to define, or redefine, OR was also born of the desire to allow the subject to evolve beyond the orthodoxy of wartime experience. Crucial considerations included the balance between model and application, and the complexity of the mathematics involved.
    • Ivor Grattan-Guinness (2003) Companion encyclopedia of the history and philosophy of the mathematical sciences, Vol 1. p. 841.
  • Historian Daniel A. Wren says that operations research/ management science has "… roots in scientific management." Like Taylor and the Gilbreths, today's management scientists use research and analysis to find optimal solutions to management problems. Modern-day management scientists, of course, use much more sophisticated mathematical tools and computers. And management science's goal is not to try to find a “science of management” but “to use scientific analysis and tools to solve management problems.”
    • Gary Dessler, ‎Jean Phillips (2008) Managing Now, p. 16: About the Management Science Approach


  • The management science approach to organizational decision making is the analog to the rational approach by individual managers. Management science came into being during World War II. At that time, mathematical and statistical techniques were applied to urgent, large-scale military problems that were beyond the ability of individual decision makers. Mathematicians, physicists, and operations researchers used systems analysis to develop artillery trajectories, antisubmarine strategies, and bombing strategies such as salvoing (discharging multiple shells simultaneously). Consider the problem of a battleship trying to sink an enemy ship several miles away. The calculation for aiming the battleship's guns should consider distance, wind speed, shell size, speed and direction of both ships, pitch and roll of the firing ship, and curvature of the earth. Methods for performing such calculations using trial and error and intuition are not accurate, take far too long, and may never achieve success.
    This is where management science came in. Analysts were able to identify the relevant variables involved in aiming a ship's guns and could model them with the use of mathematical equations. Distance, speed, pitch, roll, shell size, and so on could be calculated and entered into the equations. The answer was immediate, and the guns could begin firing. Factors such as pitch and roll were soon measured mechanically and fed directly into the targeting mechanism. Today, the human element is completely removed from the targeting process. Radar picks up the target, and the entire sequence is computed automatically.
    • Richard L. Daft, ‎Jonathan Murphy, ‎Hugh Willmott (2010) Organization Theory and Design, p. 500
    • Comment: In this highly cited work the term "management science" is used as synonym of operations research.
  • We are very excited to publish the revised thirteenth edition of the text that has been a leader in the field for over 20 years. The key purpose of this revised thirteenth edition, as with previous editions, is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with a sound conceptual understanding of the role that management science plays in the decision-making process...
    An Introduction to Management Science is applications oriented and continues to use the problem-scenario approach that is a hallmark of every edition of the text. Using the problem-scenario approach, we describe a problem in conjunction with the management science model being introduced. The model is then solved to generate a solution and recommendation to management....
    • David Anderson, Dennis Sweeney, Thomas Williams, Jeffrey Camm, R. Martin. An Introduction to Management Science. Cengage Learning, 13th revised edition. 2011. p. xxv.
  • The subject of management science has evolved for more than 60 years and is now a mature field within the broad category of applied mathematics. This book will emphasize both the applied and mathematical aspects of management science.
    • Wayne Winston, ‎S. Albright (2011) Practical Management Science. p. 3.
  • The key to virtually every management science application is a mathematical model.
    • Wayne Winston, ‎S. Albright (2011) Practical Management Science. p. 3.
  • Management science is the study of complex systems of people, money, equipment, and procedures, with the goal of understanding them and improving their effectiveness. Management science is a facet of quantitative management theory. Historians Lester Bittel and Jackson Ramsey presented the following explanation of the management science approach:
Such studies are conducted through the use of the scientific method, utilizing tools and knowledge from the physical, mathematical, and behavioral sciences. Its ultimate purpose is to provide the manager with a sound, scientific, and quantitative base for decision making
Management science enables managers to design specific measures, such as a computer program, to test or evaluate the effects and effectiveness of a process or intended action.
  • Warren R. Plunkett, ‎Gemmy Allen, ‎Raymond Attner (2012) Management. p. 45-46.
  • An area of management science called operations research commonly uses models, simulations, and games. For example, sophisticated computer models and simulations of the interactions between and among atmospheric forces forecast the weather.
    • Warren R. Plunkett, ‎Gemmy Allen, ‎Raymond Attner (2012) Management. p. 46.
  • The techniques and tools of management science are frequently used to plan organize, staff, lead, and control production operations; this aspect of management science is known as operations management. The management science approach is also used to direct facilities, purchasing, investments, marketing, personnel, and research and development. Management science depends on the participation of a variety of experienced researchers and practitioners to gather and process information, analyze operations, and develop and use the appropriate tools and techniques. Regardless of the methods, tools, and personnel used, however, the ultimate test of management science is whether better decisions are made and more effective processes are developed.
    • Warren R. Plunkett, ‎Gemmy Allen, ‎Raymond Attner (2012) Management. p. 46.
  • Management Science [Journal] is a scholarly journal that publishes scientific research on the practice of management. Within our scope are all aspects of management related to strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation, information technology, and organizations as well as all functional areas of business, such as accounting, finance, marketing, and operations. We include studies on organizational, managerial, and individual decision making, from both normative and descriptive perspectives.
  • Management Science [Journal] also strives to stimulate research in emerging domains created by economic globalization, public policy shifts, technological improvements, and trends in management practice. Its audience includes academics at business and engineering schools and managers open to the application of quantitative methods in business.

See also[edit]