The contingency school of management can be summarized as an “it all depends” approach. The appropriate management actions and approaches depend on the situation. Managers with a contingency view use a flexible approach, draw on a variety of theories and experiences, and evaluate many options as they solve problems.
Contingency management recognizes that there is no one best way to manage. In the contingency perspective, managers are faced with the task of determining which managerial approach is likely to be most effective in a given situation. For example, the approach used to manage a group of teenagers working in a fast‐food restaurant would be very different from the approach used to manage a medical research team trying to find a cure for a disease.
Contingency thinking avoids the classical “one best way” arguments and recognizes the need to understand situational differences and respond appropriately to them. It does not apply certain management principles to any situation. Contingency theory is a recognition of the extreme importance of individual manager performance in any given situation. The contingency approach is highly dependent on the experience and judgment of the manager in a given organizational environment.