Management Textbooks Bungle Weber
| Peter Klein |
Most management scholars, like most economists, have little interest in doctrinal history, so it’s not surprising they don’t pay much attention to the history of management thought. But Stephen Cummings and Todd Bridgman’s “The Relevant Past: Why the History of Management Should Be Critical for Our Future” (Academy of Management Learning and Education, March 2011) is an eye-opener. Focusing on Max Weber, Cummings and Bridgman document a series of whoppers that appear consistently in leading management texts, such as the belief that “ideal type” means best or optimal; that Weber did his major work in the 1940s (Parsons’s translation of Wirtschaft and Gesellschaft appeared in 1947, 27 years after Weber’s death); that Weber personally admired bureaucracy (In Search of Excellence avers that Weber “pooh-poohed charismatic leadership and doted on bureaucracy”); and other gross misunderstandings. FAIL.