Many activities in organization were treated in an essentially descriptive. The approaches, scientific, administrative management, behavioral are useful in different circumstances, but it is difficult to be sure which one is right in a given situation. In view of this, it is considered that the newer systems and contingency approaches may provide a more complete integrated approach to the problems of management.
Thinking about management with knowledge of the systems approach can help to postulate conceptually the interrelationship of apparently separate and even contradictory ideas underlying management theory for the first time.
A system is an organized combination of parts which form a complex entity, with interrelationships or interactions between the parts and between the system and environment.
A management system encourages one to consider the cutting across of traditional boundaries of responsibility between departments in order to appreciate the objectives of the whole organization. Distinct demarcation lines between purchasing, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, etc., may becomes less distinct and a revision of organization may be needed. This is essential in viewing the management process as a system.
The systems approach stresses the need for more understanding in the development of sophisticated problem-solving techniques, e.g. simulation, operations research and computerized information systems. All these aim to improve the control mechanisms of organizational systems so that they can plan for, and react more effectively to changes in the environment.
The systems approach attempts to give managers a way of looking at organizations as a complete whole. It implies that activities in any part of the organization will affect the activities of every other part. The adoption of a system approach will involved a marked change in organization, hence the vital need to prepare the organization well in advance for the need to accept change.
Whatever classification is given to managerial activities and responsibilities, they becoming more dynamic and complex because a greater rate of change and problems of co-ordination and integration as more jobs become specialized.
Traditional managerial theory and behavioral science have provided guidelines to cope with uncertainty and change, but the approaches are too fragmented. It is here that a systems approach can help.
General systems theory provided valuable insights into the structure and process of management. The systems approach recognized variety and offers a way of interrelating differences by reconciling them within the whole. This is an approach which emphasizes theory and conformity.