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Is a company always plural, or are small companies singular?

Which one of the following is correct?

Management gets its ideas from its employees.
Management gets their ideas from their employees.

  • 4
    Hint: you use "gets" (not "get") in both your examples.
    – yoozer8
    Oct 28 '11 at 18:04

In American English, the management is used as a singular collective noun (like group) as American corpus and Ngram searches repeatedly confirm. A singular verb in order to maintain subject-verb agreement:

The management gets its ideas from its employees.

However, it is noteworthy that the COED allows for the word to be regarded as plural:

[treated as singular or plural] the people managing a company or organization, regarded collectively:
management were extremely cooperative

Also, the British National Corpus comes up with 9 results when searched for the management are, 8 of which are applicable to this scenario. I tend to believe, then, that the difference is mainly between British English and American English; that though management is more generally considered singular in both areas, British English is more likely to support a plural interpretation than American English.

  • In case it helps, COCA shows 27 to 0 for is vs. are, and BNC shows 15 to 8.
    – Daniel
    Oct 28 '11 at 18:56
  • Does this answer the question? It says you should use the verb "gets", but I don't see that it addresses the question of the pronoun "their". Oct 29 '11 at 19:21

Management is planning to hire more workers. = (Brit) (The) Management are planning to hire more workers.

Source: Merriam-Webster


BrEng seems to be more accommodating of notional agreement than AmEng. Speakers of BrEng are quite happy to follow nouns like management, government, committee and several more with a plural verb, particularly when they wish to emphasise the discrete nature of the members of the group rather than their homogeneity.

  • The first time I realized this was on the back of a Queen CD that read, "Queen are ...".
    – tenfour
    Oct 28 '11 at 21:03

The NOAD reports that management, when used to mean "the people in charge of running a company or organization, regarded collectively," is treated as singular or plural.

Looking at the Corpus of Contemporary American English, I can find 931 sentences containing management is, and 180 sentences containing management are; in the British National Corpus there are 428 sentences containing management is, and 120 sentences containing management are. To make a comparison, in the Corpus of Historical American English, the sentences are respectively 405 and 101.

  • 3
    If you look at the contexts though, you see that a lot of the sentences look like this: The relatives of senior management are given plum salaries and never show up and ...environmental health problems that originate from improper solid waste management are mainly.... These are not pertinent usages. In fact, when you search for the management are, you get 2 results, which are as follows: the union and the management are, and the police and the management are. Whereas the management is gets 27 results, all of which are used in contexts such as the OP wants.
    – Daniel
    Oct 28 '11 at 18:26

In American English, you can simultaneously use the singular verb "gets" and the plural pronoun "their". For example,

Management gets their yearly bonuses in February.

sounds terrible to my ear with "its".

In the OPs sentence, I would use "its", because in this sentence you are treating the management as a singular entity. However, I wouldn't say using "their" was incorrect.

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