Friday, June 20, 2008

Management Subtext

The management literature, I find, frequently seems to subvert itself. Here’s an example. Ichak Adizes wrote the classic work, Managing Corporate Lifecycles. Yet one continually stumbles across asides in this book, ever so briefly deposited, which would seem to subvert the text. Adizes states that “the tools for diagnosing and treating ... organizational behavior -- to change organizational culture and consciousness -- are in their infancy” (Adizes I 2004:10). That is, they are still in the earliest stage of immaturity. On the core subject of the “integration” of companies (getting it all together as a well-functioning whole), he states that this “remains elusive and an ongoing subject of inquiry” (:254). To be elusive means of course “to escape one”. He writes that “when I watch spiritual leaders, I am in awe” (:396). That is, the organisational guru himself would seem cowed by what spiritual leaders are able to achieve. Such comments are scattered throughout the book -- and indeed other such management books. QUESTION: What is the meaning of such qualifiers? What does this really say about the merits of management theory?

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