The process, quantitative, behavioural, and systems approaches to management did not integrate the environment. The often assumed that their concepts and techniques have universal applicability. For example the process theorists often assumes that strategic planning applies to all situations; the quantitative experts generally feel that linear programming can be used under all conditions; the behavioural theorist usually advocates participative goal setting for all superior-subordinate pairs; and the system advocates tend to emphasize the need for computerized information flows in all situations. On the other hand practicing managers find out that a particular concept or technique from the various approached just does not work effectively in various situations. The theorists accuse practitioners of not applying the technique properly, and the practitioners accuse the theorists of being unrealistic. The contingency approach does incorporate the environment and attempts to bridge this existing theory-practice gap.
Contingency approach advocates that managerial actions and organisational design must be appropriate to the given situation and a particular action is valid only under certain conditions. There is no one best approach to management and it all depends on the situation. In other words, managerial action is contingent upon external environment. There is no one best approach for all situations. What a manager does depends upon a given situation and there is an active inter-relationship between the variables in a situation and the managerial action. Contingency theory attempts to