The Management Myth?

5 June 2006 at 1:57 pm 5 comments

| Peter Klein |

Lots of chatter on the net about an article in the June 2006 Atlantic, “The Management Myth,” by Oxford-trained philosopher and former consultant Matthew Stewart. (Online version for magazine subscribers only.)

Most of management theory is inane, writes our correspondent, the founder of a consulting firm. If you want to succeed in business, don’t get an M.B.A. Study philosophy instead.

Most commentators (1, 2, 3) seem to find the article challenging and profound. Paul Kedrosky demurs, saying Stewart “accomplished the impossible. He made me like management theory, MBAs, and consultants more, while liking philosophy (and Oxford philosophers) less.” Kedrosky calls the article “disjointed, dull, obvious, smug, poorly written, and full of falsely-elevated faux philosophy chatter.” Hmmmm, sounds like a perfect candidate for Academy of Management Review! (Note to AMR editors and referees: just kidding.)

Update: Lynne Kiesling likes Stewart’s book on Spinoza and Leibnitz.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory, Teaching.

Continuing the Micro-foundations Crusade Cliometrica

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gary Furash  |  6 June 2006 at 9:01 am

    I studied philosophy in college, quite successfully, and it’s done nothing to help my business career. However, the work I did in social psychology and family systems theory, which helps illustrate how business actually work, hasn’t helped me either, but has provided me with a lot of insight. I haven’t been able to make any money off the latter yet. ;-)

  • 2. Organizations and Markets » Was Taylor A Taylorite?  |  6 June 2006 at 11:44 am

    […] Speaking of scientific management, one of Frederick W. Taylor's biographers tells us that Taylor himself was no Taylorite. Yesterday I was looking for an article by Gavin Wright and stumbled upon Wright's review of Daniel Nelson's 1980 book Frederick W. Taylor and the Rise of Scientific Management. (JSTOR subscribers can read the review here.) According to Nelson, Taylor was primarily an engineer — a very creative and successful one — with little interest in labor management. His inventions revolutionized the machine-tool industry, and he later ventured into "popular" management writing as a PR gimmick, to enhance his reputation and build a consulting practice. (We also learn that Taylor was a champion lawn tennis player, inventor of a spoon-shaped tennis racket and a two-handled golf club that was later banned, and the son of a radical feminist and abolitionist mother.) […]

  • 3. JC  |  6 June 2006 at 8:01 pm

    I posted a comment under your other thread – ‘Was Taylor a Taylorite?’

    But I appreciate your drawing attention to the knowledge problem blog. Fun.

  • 4. Stacy Masiero  |  4 July 2006 at 7:47 pm

    Where you have:
    Update: The full text is available here. It isn’t. It goes to some other lady’s site and she doesn’t have the full-text linked either because Atlantic monthly req. a subscrip. (Would love to read the full text without subscribing to the journal – and it won’t let you pay for the one article…)

  • 5. Peter Klein  |  5 July 2006 at 9:16 am

    Stacy, sorry about that. The link went to Susan Ohanian’s site, where a copy of the full text was posted. Unfortuantely she seems to have taken it down, perhaps for copyright reasons. As far as I know the Atlantic’s paid site is now the only source. If anyone knows another site, please let us know.

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