Does management work and does it have a future?

Cover picture

I recently completed some research on the management and organisation of British universities, which concluded that despite being full of good intentions (in this case to internationalise their offering) they lacked the management experience and know-how to implement the changes necessary to implement their strategies.  Whilst it seemed fairly clear to me that what they needed to do was improve their management knowledge and know-how, it did not feel entirely comfortable for me to be saying this. After all I work at a Business School, one of whose primary functions is to provide management education to help managers develop their knowledge and know-how.


Check Mintzberg´s criticism of Business Schools´ approach.

Making me more uncomfortable was the remembrance of a couple of well known critiques of management education produced in the immediate post-Enron era, by Sumantra Ghoshal and Henry Mintzberg.  Ghoshal published a damning article about the worst excesses of management just before he died in 2004.  In it, he was stated that shareholder capitalism, the pursuit of shareholder dividends at the expense of all other considerations and the linking of pay to short term profits all had their roots in Business School teaching.  These were the practices he suggested had contributed to the Enron scandal.  Similarly, Mintzberg in his 2004 book, Managers not MBAs had concluded that Business School MBAs were teaching the wrong people to manage in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences.  And here was I saying what we need is more management education!

HBR does management really work

Check this article.

At around the same time towards the end of last year, I had noticed that the Harvard Business Review was running a series of articles to commemorate its 90th birthday.  One which drew my attention was called Does management really work? by Sadun and Van Reenen.  In order to determine if organisations were more successful if they adopted good management practices, their worldwide survey ( asked managers to indicate if their organisations used long term goals (with short term targets) whether they used incentives to reward good performance and whether they systematically monitored performance.  Their findings were not immediately inspiring.  They found that poor management is rampant, that many organisations use none of these three practices and identified that many organisational leaders do not even realise that their organisations are badly managed.  Management in the public and not-for-profit sector field is even worse than private sector organisations.  However, I was relieved as I read further to find that Sadun and Van Reenen were able to identify that better performance is strongly associated with the adoption of these three basic management practices in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.  As a result they were able to conclude their study by recommending that urgent management action is needed to spread the knowledge of their findings.  I was relieved to read that in their opinion good management works!

The future of management

Check excerpts from the book.

But that was not the end of my dilemma.  A few days later, I started reading The Future of Management, by Gary Hamel.  His assessment of current management practice is almost as damning as Ghoshal and Mintzberg.  He found that too much senior organisational management is self-serving and under-performing.  Citing the example of Kodak, who took until 2004 to realise that their film based business model was outdated, and Nokia, whose reluctance to move away from a small screen chocolate bar size mobile phones led to a catastrophic decline; he argues that too much power is in the hands of too few people at the top of many organisations and that these powerful senior managers suffer from rigidity of thinking.  They surround themselves with people who agree with them instead of searching out the dissenters who see things differently.  Most companies he argues have 19th century management structures, 20th century management process and 21st century internet enabled workforces.

Thumb up for companies

Hamel argues for a more creative, open democratic style of management.

Hamel argues for what he calls Management 2.0, which he finds in W L Gore (producer of Gore-Tex), Google and Whole Food Market (a US based organic food supermarket chain).  All these companies have very flat hierarchies.  They are more transparent than most and W L Gore and Whole Foods Market have limited pay differentials.  They afford time for their employees to be creative and give far much more discretion to employees and give them much more say in decisions than is the norm.  Citing these examples he argues for a more creative, open democratic style of management, using the sort of social media technologies that many employees use in their daily lives.

So where does this leave my recommendation for universities to skill-up their managers?  Hopefully Sadun and Van Reenens’ work at least means I can sleep at night knowing that management does work.  But, Ghoshal and Mintzberg critique of late 20th Century management education and Hamel’s call for Management 2.0 make me and hopefully all my colleagues at Durham and Grenoble realise that we cannot be seen to be peddling the same old out of date management thinking year after year without constantly updating and rethinking our approach, to make if fit for 21st century businesses and their current and future managers.

PhilipWarwickPhilip Warwick

Senior Teaching Fellow
Durham University Business School

Prior to entering academic life Philip spent 17 years working as a manager in the National Health Service (NHS) in Yorkshire and the north east of England. While still a manager in the NHS he studied for a part-time MBA at Durham Business School. In 2000, he joined the University of York, where he stayed until moving to Durham in autumn 2012.

Philip has two main areas of research interest and activity, public sector strategy and internationalisation and the scholarship of teaching and learning. His public sector strategy interest encompasses health service management and university management, in particular the international business in higher education, which is the subject of his doctoral research. Much of his work in the field of teaching and learning also relates to internationalising teaching and learning, making teaching and learning more appropriate and relevant to an international audience.

See also:

The Internationalisation of UK Universities – a progress report

Cover picThis week, Philip Warwick, Senior Teaching Fellow at Durham University Business School, UK, writes at guest blog on the state of internationalisation in British universities. Professor Warwick has been studying the international strategies of a number of universities in the UK and in other countries. He has found that approaches vary across countries. Within the UK he has identified four specific strategies to international development within the group of universities he studied.

Michael Porter’s company, Monitor Group, goes bankrupt: Are his ideas bankrupt too?

CoverI have just finished my classes for the semester in Strategic Management. As I did my fifteen minute wrap up of the course, I announced some interesting news to my students. Just three weeks ago, Michael Porter’s company, the Monitor Group, had declared bankruptcy. It is a rare treat to subdue a group of enthusiastic business students but their stunned silence was fascinating to watch. Read more…

From Harvard to GEM: Co-teaching on Strategic Management and Leadership

2012-11-30 14.02.39It was a great pleasure during the last semester to share a class at Grenoble EM with Dr. Gregg Glover. Gregg has been a good friend for many years (though he might deny this!) and I am delighted he accepted our invitation.

He did his doctorate in organization change at Harvard University and has worked there for over 25 years. He was able to bring his vast teaching and professional experience to the class and share some of the things he has learned and studied while working for the world’s most known university. Read more…

AACSB Associate Deans Conference 2012: Lessons from Change in Business Schools

MainOne of the opening sessions of the AACSB Conference for Associate Deans Conference brought together panelists from 4  business schools; Latha Ramchand, Dean at the University of Houston, Lynne Richardson, Dean at the University of Mary Washington, Deborah Spake, Associate Dean at the University of Alabama and Kristie Oglivie, Interim Associate Dean at California State University. The Panel was chaired by Susan McTiernan, Associate Dean at Quinnipiac University and Vice Chair of the Associate Deans Affinity Group.

Higher education facts and figures 2012

Universities UK Blog: “Every year, Universities UK produces an annual collection of facts and figures on UK higher education institutions. This publication always proves very popular, as it presents a vast range of information in bite size chunks, providing readers with an overview of higher education in the UK, covering the student population, staff population and finances.”

Are home students being rejected in place of wealthy international students?

Universities UK Blog: “It is true that higher education is becoming increasingly global; there are growing numbers of overseas students who choose to study in the UK. This is hardly surprising given the UK’s leading reputation for higher education and the global rise in the numbers of tertiary students wanting to study outside of their home nation.”

Rising student expectations? University international offices know all about it.

UniversitiesUK: “Don’t you just hate it when university and student leaders say: ‘Now that students are paying high fees…’? Where have these people been for the last 30 years? It seems too easy to forget that international students studying in British universities have been paying fees since the 1980s.”

Cause for concern? The Bologna Process and the UK’s international student market

GlobalHigherEd: “A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) questioning the implications of the Bologna Process on the UK’s international student market set of alarm bells in the UK media last week. For example, the Guardian (May 22) declared, “UK universities at risk of losing foreign students as a result of the Bologna process.”

How dependent on foreign (non-EU) student fees is the UK (2010-2011)?

GlobalHigherEd: Income from HE course fees by country of HE institution 2010/11 – table


Competitive Strategy Leading in Turbulent Times Cover pic
The all time classic book on strategy and still a good read 30 years on. Excellent advice taken from Lorange’s business and academic career.
An excellent read that challenges managers to think about their own vision of what they and their organisation contribute to society.


Filed under Business Schools, Guest Authors, Higher Education, Management, MBA, Strategy

11 responses to “Does management work and does it have a future?

  1. Pingback: Work: It’s what you do, not where you are | GlobalEd

  2. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy” by Harvard Business Review | GlobalEd

  3. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands” by Rakesh Khurana | GlobalEd

  4. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: “Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change” by Lawrence G. Hrebiniak | GlobalEd

  5. Pingback: Global Power Struggles | GlobalEd

  6. Pingback: Business school performance culture. Are we targeting the right things? | GlobalEd

  7. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: “Reorganize for Resilience” by Ranjay Gulati | GlobalEd

  8. Pingback: Professors (and other experts) getting it wrong : The Reinhart and Rogoff spreadsheet error | GlobalEd

  9. Pingback: EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Does Management Education Create Impact?” by Eric Cornuel | GlobalEd

  10. Pingback: EFMD Annual Conference 2013: “Efficiency and Creativity: the Impact of Management Education upon Business and Economy in Asia” by Dong-Sung Cho | GlobalEd

  11. Pingback: How partnerships can enhance organisational change. | GlobalEd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s