CHAPTER 19  - REVIEW - Historical Background

The main purpose of this chapter was to demonstrate that management is not some modern phenomenon that was developed in the Twentieth Century. Nobody can tell when management began, but it is certainly many thousands if not tens of thousand of years old. It is certainly not something that was invented by accountants and management consultants dressed in smart city suits, or academics sitting beneath dreaming spires. Many people have confused the understanding of management with the study of business. Management is a part of business, but it is also part of almost all other human activity, — which business and commerce are not necessarily. Any serious study of management must therefore be capable of general application, rather than simply how to make a profit in business.

If we want to understand management we need to know where it came from and what lessons we can learn from its history. We need to adjust our thinking to consider the broad implications of management rather than trying to learn a few smart state-of-the art techniques and jargon which we might have read in recent management journals or books.

CHAPTER 20 - REVIEW - Management and Science

Management is not something simply confined to business and commerce. Its practice is something important that affects us all in all of our environments and those that we share with other people. Many professions – particularly those with a scientific basis are supported by some sort of general principles and proven scientific theories. The first question we should therefore ask is whether a comparable management theory exists already – the answer is no. In which case can we apply the methodologies of other scientific disciplines in order to provide a theory of management? The answer to this is – only maybe, – and anyway it is likely to be difficult. The alternative therefore is to attempt to develop a general theory, derived from existing disciplines, which is at least logically consistent. In which case we need to see which if any of the accepted disciplines and theories in other professions can be applied to management. As a first step in attempting to develop a general theory we must look first at these various different scientific disciplines to see how they work.

We should note that most professions require their practitioners to study, have experience of, and demonstrate their knowledge of the theory and practice of that profession. This is usually assessed by impartial examination by qualified professionals who have already demonstrated their own professional credibility. People cannot be called doctors, attorneys, generals, or archbishops simply by attaching it as title. In contrast, anyone can at any time become a manager simply by declaring it as part of their title. We should also note that management has a pretty dubious track record of success and failure. Many of the successes conceal serious shortcomings that are often not revealed until much later, if ever. The more catastrophic failures are widely publicised only because they are impossible to hide. However, most management failures are usually more difficult to detect other than by people who are involved in them – and usually they don’t want to admit to them or discuss them. Most importantly, we should note that most management failures are blamed on some other factor such as government policy, world economics, adverse marketing conditions, or some group or individual other than management. Unlike military failures due to incompetence, after which the generals responsible are never again allowed to lead, most failed management leaders continue to practice elsewhere, — often equally disastrously.



19   Historical Background

20   Management and Science

21   Foundations of Logic and Theory

22 Antecedent Management Theory

'Where do you come from?' said the Red Queen.

'And where are you going?' Look up, speak nicely,

and don't twiddle your fingers all the time.'

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