Is there a Reputational Hierarchy in Management?

10 May 2007 at 3:35 pm 1 comment

| Nicolai Foss |

We don’t often praise sociologists on O&M, but one of the more illuminating and interesting sociologists is Brit Richard Whitley, Professor at the University of Manchester Business School. Reference is here not so much to his recent, mainly descriptive, work on “business systems” (e.g., this one; for an early critique, see this) as to his more-than-two-decades-old work on the sociology of the sciences.

Using ideas from the (partly) sociology-based contingency theory of organizations, Whitley argued that the sciences may be seen as work organizations, their organization  depending on such things as whether there were exemplary problems and problems solutions, a generally agreed-upon hierarchy of interesting problem, well-defined audiences, uniform heuristics, and agreement on who is high in the reputational hierarchy and who is not. Clearly, physics and economics are like each other in these dimensions, and management is different from both. Whereas the former two are more hierarchical, management is clearly more of an adhocracy, because of the absence of exemplary problem solutions, shared heuristics, clear reputational hierarchies, etc.

However, management seems to be changing, as fields increasingly overlap, shared research heuristics have become established in, if not the overall field of management, then certainly in fields such as (notably) strategic management and marketing, and there are clear signs of an emerging hierarchy of fields. Of course, it is based on no solid evidence (but, hey, this is the blog world), but I have the impression based on conversations with colleagues, going to numerous academy meetings (US and Europe), my prejudices, etc. that it may look something like this:

1.  Strategic Management/Finance

2. Organization Theory and Behavior/Marketing

3. Technology and Innovation Management.

4. Human Resource Management/International Business.

5. Entrepeneurship

6. Branding studies ;-)

OK, I may be completely off the track here. If I am, tell me. . . .  

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Institutions, Management Theory.

The Diffusion of IT in the Workplace Weakly Informative Priors

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bruce’s Blog / links for 2007-05-15  |  14 May 2007 at 7:25 pm

    […] Is there a Reputational Hierarchy in Management? « Organizations and Markets However, management seems to be changing, as fields increasingly overlap, shared research heuristics have become established in, if not the overall field of management, then certainly in fields such as (notably) strategic management and marketing, and the (tags: sociology strategy trends change management academics theory) […]

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