"... a body of knowledge collected an nurtured by experts according to neutral, objective, and universal standards."That's from an entertaining article with the staggeringly unoriginal title "The Management Myth" in the June issue of The Atlantic (which was kindly passed on to me by Brother Hrab).
Hmmm, doesn't strike me as a great definition. Who are these "experts"? And what are these "neutral, objective, and universal standards"? But most of all, I still think that science is fundamentally observational. To give some context, the author of the piece, Matthew Stewart, was discussing the historical development of "scientific management". (Full disclosure: I co-authored a paper in the journal Management Science a few years ago.) To my mind, unless there's an attempt to take careful observations, it's not science.
As an aside, I'd like to comment on an ambiguity in the word observational. Sometimes people distinguish experimental from "observational" methods. But of course observation is a component in experimentation; the real distinction is that in experimentation there is planned manipulation of conditions. Sometimes, to evade this distinction, people refer to "natural" experiments, namely observations with coincident variation in potential explanatory factors. But you can't get around the fact that these are not real experiments, and may well suffer from the usual shortcomings of non-experimental studies. And that would be my preference for terminology: experimental versus non-experimental studies. Sometimes people will insist that it's not science if it's not experimental, but this is going too far: it would rule out—among many other sciences—astrophysics and evolutionary biology. Of course there are many challenging issues in analysis of data from non-experimental studies. Consider, for example, the analysis of data from a case-control study. While this epidemiological design is indispensable for investigating rare outcomes and in cases where randomization is not ethical, the problem of confounding can bedevil analysis. Hey, science isn't always easy (certainly not as easy as the textbooks sometimes portray it).
Returning to Stewart's piece in The Atlantic, I think he's at his best skewering management fads and the associated vapid management-speak:
"On the whole ... management has been less than a boon for those who value free and meaningful speech. M.B.A.s have taken obfuscatory jargon—otherwise known as bullshit—to a level that would have made even the Scholastics blanch. As students of philosophy know, Descartes dismantled the edifice of medieval thought by writing clearly and showing that knowledge, by its nature, is intelligible, not obscure."I end with a cartoon that, by its nature, is intelligible, not obscure: