Management is an applied and very diverse field of study focusing on the practice of managing and its outcomes, and on management contexts. It draws eclectically on knowledge from a range of social science disciplines (including sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science), philosophy, mathematics and economics.
The management field comprises both generic approaches to studying that draw on these disciplines, and specialist areas covering the range of management practice in different contexts (e.g. accounting and finance, marketing, organizational behaviour, human resource management, critical management studies, public sector management).
Researchers may not automatically be offered access for investigating management practice. Managers may be more willing to allow researchers to investigate their organization where they can see the commercial or personal learning value for them.
Managers are capable of taking action informed by management research findings. They will have their own interpretation of what is happening which may not coincide with that of the researchers.
These management field-specific factors combine with those that are common to other applied social fields. What counts as knowledge or what will work in practice are widely contested. The social sciences are intrinsically value-laden ways of understanding and informing practice. While a relatively impartial stance towards management practice is possible, a wholly neutral one is not. (Even attempting to be neutral implies valuing the stance of neutrality towards the management practice!) Values underlie unavoidable choices over:
But there is no consensus on the ‘right’ values to hold, so you need to get clear what yours are and be prepared to justify why you hold them.