Under this approach, decision-making is considered to be the essence of management and, therefore, this approach is also known ‘decision theory approach’.
In order to analyze and solve complex proems facing management, mathematical techniques are used. The quantitative approach to management makes use of scientific tools of several disciplines (engineering, mathematics, statistics, economics, etc in order to provide a quantitative base for managerial decisions. This approach is also called ‘management science approach or ‘operations research’ or ‘mathematical approach’.
The essential characteristics of this approach are as follows:
(i) Management is essentially decision-making and an organization is a decision-making unit.
(ii) Organizational efficiency depends upon the quality of managerial decisions.
(iii) A problem is expressed in the form of a quantitative or mathematical model containing mathematical symbols and relationships.
(iv)The different variables in management can be quantified and, expressed in the form of an equation.
The model used to simulate the problem shows in symbolic form all the relevant factors that bear on the problem and the interrelationship between them.
Operations research began to be used in military operations during the Second World War. The quantitative approach began with model building and latter on several sophisticated techniques like games theory, queuing theory, sampling theory, simulation theory, computerized management information system and linear programming were developed for making rational decisions.
Herbert A, Simon, the noble laureate has made notable contribution in the field of decision theory. He published several famous books ‘Administrative Behavior’, The New Science of Management Decision’, ‘Public Administration’, etc.
Simon defined organization as ‘complex network of decisional process’ and considers decision-making synonymous with management. He also paves the concepts of bounded rationality and administrative man. James G. March, Cyber, Forester and Robert Schaefer, have also contributed to this approach.
The quantitative approach has provided sharp tools for rational decision-making. The mathematical formulation enables practicing managers to discover significant relationships that they could control. This approach provides a rational base for making decisions with precision and perfection.
It has been widely used in planning and control activities. But it is not common in organizing, staffing and leadership where problems are more human than technical in nature. This approach does not take the total view of management.
Management is much more than decision-making. Moreover. Operations research cannot take final decisions. It can merely suggest best possible alternatives. In the final analysis, human judgment and experience is required. Quantitative techniques can be valuable supplements rather than a substitute for management.