AIM: This paper examines the development of theory in the occupation of management, in order to determine how this process is similar to that which has occurred in nursing. BACKGROUND: The need for the Health Service to be effectively managed was a prominent feature of UK health policy in the 1980s and early 1990s and accounts of the introduction of 'management methods' into health care tend to focus on the conflict between management and nursing. More recently, however, the policy emphasis has shifted towards collaborative and co-operative approaches to the provision of health care. METHOD: An examination of the development of nursing was conducted in a previous paper and serves as a point of reference in identifying areas of contrast and convergence in the development of nursing and management ideologies. This paper focuses on the development of theory in the occupation of management. CONCLUSION: A consideration of the nature of nursing and management is beneficial because it provides insights which can help practitioners in their transition from nurse to manager. In the past the relationship between nursing and management has been presented somewhat simplistically and this paper demonstrates that the situation is much more complex. If this complexity is recognized it can be taken into account and serve as a basis for removing barriers between these two key groups of personnel. Ultimately, this may lead to the collaboration and co-operation necessary to deliver the responsive services identified as targets in recent policy pronouncements.