Management Enthusiasms

Here is a nice enumeration of the big hits in
managerial enthusiasms over the last century. This list is lifted from
Facing up to Management Faddism

Early theories
Scientific Management 1900 – 1930 Process; one way to do things, efficency.
Administrative Management 1930s division of labor functions, hierarchy.
Human Social Factors 1940s Workers’ social needs are important for optimal motivation and productivity.
Beginning of True Faddism
Theory X and Theory Y 1950s Authoritarian versus participatory management, motivation.
Leadership 1950s Criticality of leader as pivotal to firm’s success of failure, traits could be identified.
Strategic Planning 1950s – 1960s Plan, control, external environment critical.
Management by Objectives 1965 Individual Goals related to company goals.
Portfolio Management 1973 Boston Consulting Group; matrix of business products, cash cows, stars, dogs, and the like.
Matrix Management 1970s Restructure reporting relationships to eliminate functional structures.
Quality Circles 1970s – 1980s Monitor, workplace improvement.
Total Quality Manaement 1980s – 1990s Customer focus, efficency, processes, quality.
Empowerment, Benchmarking, Reengineering 1990s process, start-over, structure
Team-Based Work, Self-Managed-Teams 1980s – 1990s
Downsizing 1990s Layoffs, called restructuring for efficency.
Learning in organizations 1990s constant learning, how organizations learn new ways of doing things, share learning
Leadership 1980s – 1990s Traits, charisma capable of being learned, individual pivotal to survival
Entrepreneurship 1990s Start-ups, e-commerce

They also enumerate a handful of functions that a fad plays for those involved in it. It’s
interesting to contrast this with the list of drivers that give rise to standards, or the
the list of features of a destructive cult.

  • Provide Identity to an Organization
  • Serve to legitimate a firm, as firms tend to model each other’s behavior.
  • Fads give managers, particularly those of short tenure, a tool to demonstrate activity.
  • Provide a way for careers to advance and positions institutionalized.
  • Create organizational culture (stories, scripts, shared understanding).
  • Socialization – the fad’s rituals encourage work related social interaction.
  • Legitimize decisions – responsiblity for the tough choices can be shared with the fad.

Interesting to contrast that excellent list with the drivers to standardization, and symptoms of a destructive cult.

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