Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the World

Overview

In 1996, having completed a two-year research study, longtime Economist journalists and editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published The Witch Doctors, an explosive critique of management theory and its legions of evangelists and followers. The book became a bestseller, widely praised by reviewers and devoured by readers confused by the buzzwords and concepts the management “industry” creates. At the time, ideas about “reengineering,” “the search for excellence,” “quality,” and “chaos” both energized...

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Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the World--for Better and for Worse

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Overview

In 1996, having completed a two-year research study, longtime Economist journalists and editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published The Witch Doctors, an explosive critique of management theory and its legions of evangelists and followers. The book became a bestseller, widely praised by reviewers and devoured by readers confused by the buzzwords and concepts the management “industry” creates. At the time, ideas about “reengineering,” “the search for excellence,” “quality,” and “chaos” both energized and haunted the world of business, just as “the long tail,” “black swans,” “the tipping point,” “the war for talent,” and “corporate responsibility” do today.

For decades, since the rise of MBA programs on campuses across the country, the field of management has operated in a dubious space. Many of its framers clamor for respect within the academy while making millions of dollars pedaling ideas, some brilliant and some nonsensical, in speeches, consulting arrangements, and books.

Although The Witch Doctors was a damning critique (“a scalpel job,” according to the Wall Street Journal), it also argued that much of management theory is valuable—making companies more effi-cient and productive, improving organizational life for workers, and providing sound ways for companies to innovate while defending more entrenched plans. Building upon all that made the original such a phenomenal success, this fully revised and updated edition, Masters of Management, takes into account the rise of the Internet, the growing power of emerging markets, the Great Recession of 2008, and the more recent developments in management theory. The result is an indispensable volume for any manager.

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Editorial Reviews

The Times (London)
“A gem of debunking.”
Booklist
“This excellent book encourages thoughtful analysis of the growing management revolution; the combining of knowledge, learning, and innovation; the real meaning of globalization; and boardroom implications.”
Biz Books
“Without some failures, companies can’t ride the crest of the next wave of innovation. If you don’t seize opportunity, someone else will....Wooldridge uses the stories of small and large companies to drive home his “how to make it work” advice.”
New York Times Book Review
“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.”
Chicago Tribune
“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.”
Wall Street Journal
“Skillfully written and sprinkled with interesting observations.”
Joseph Nocera
“Micklethwait and Wooldridge have done the near impossible: written a book about management—management—that is lively, engrossing, skeptical, fair-minded, and steeped in a rich sense of history.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
“Read it before buying any other business book.”
Chicago Tribune
“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.”
Wall Street Journal
“Brings clarity, humor, and historical perspective to a field that rewards gibberish, pomposity, and revolutionaries who want to throw away the pase (and the people that go with it).”
The Times (London)
“A gem of debunking.”
New York Times Book Review
“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.”
Library Journal
Wooldridge and John Micklethwait's 1996 history of management theory, The Witch Doctors, became a best seller lauded for its open-eyed analysis of prevailing methodology. Wooldridge (management editor, the Economist) has completely revised and updated the book to include events from the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s to the current recession. The core of the book is a solid examination of the effects of entrepreneurship, globalization, and the free-agency economy on corporate governance. Wooldridge offers a balanced look at how business schools have spawned a guru industry that offers a gamut of theories on learning, innovation, and strategy. Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, and the "Journo-Gurus" (Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Chris Anderson) receive focused attention as the main influences in contemporary theory. VERDICT This is one of the best overviews of management theory in the 20th century. It is written in a clear and accessible style that will appeal to both MBA students and the general reader. Highly recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston
Kirkus Reviews
A welcome update of a business classic. In 1996, Wooldridge (God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World, 2010, etc.) co-authored The Witch Doctors, a brilliant analysis of the cult and culture of business management. The various global meltdowns of the 21st-century have necessitated a wholly updated edition, and this revised incarnation should overtake its predecessor as the most bracing and relevant discussion of the world created by MBAs. Today, the author is largely concerned with the ways in which a group of management mavericks—trained at some of the world's most elite institution—have been given free reign to shape the economy. While Wooldridge concedes the many positive contributions management "gurus" have had on American enterprise, he is ultimately damning. He calls the industry to task for its lack of intellectual rigor; love of novelty for novelty's sake; propensity to obfuscate through meaningless neologisms; and refusal to acknowledge criticism. In sharp, direct prose, he looks at examples in which entire industries have been reshaped—often with catastrophic results—by this coterie's theoretical whims. In an increasingly volatile world in which the public demands more for less and resources that were once plentiful have become more and more scarce, CEOs and politicians have made themselves easy targets for millionaire prophets promising salvation. Simultaneously smart, insightful, terrifying and humorous.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061771132
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Wooldridge is the management editor and “Schumpeter” columnist of The Economist. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and All Souls College, Oxford, where he held a Prize Fellowship. He was formerly The Economist’s Washington bureau chief and “Lexington” columnist. He is the coauthor, with John Micklethwait, of five books—including The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus; A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization; The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea; and The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America—and the author of Measuring the Mind: Education and Psychology in England c.1860-1990.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword xi

Introduction: The Unacknowledged Legislators 1

Part I How it Works

Chapter 1 The Fad in Progress: From Reengineering to CSR. 29

Chapter 2 The Management Theory Industry 49

Part II The Prophet and the Evangelists

Chapter 3 Peter Drucker: The Guru's Guru 75

Chapter 4 Tom Peters: Management for the Masses 95

Chapter 5 Flat Worlds, Tipping Points, and Long Tails 111

Part III Three Management Revolutions

Chapter 6 Rethinking the Company 143

Chapter 7 Entrepreneurs Unbound 169

Chapter 8 The World Turned Upside Down 203

Part IV The Great Debates

Chapter 9 Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation 233

Chapter 10 Lords of Strategy 251

Chapter 11 What Does Globalization Mean? 269

Chapter 12 Storm in the Boardroom 291

Chapter 13 Managing Leviathan 313

Part V Workers of the World

Chapter 14 The Common Toad 337

Chapter 15 The Battle for Brainpower 363

Chapter 16 Managing Yourself 391

Conclusion: Mastering Management 409

Notes 421

Index 433

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