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Management fashions and fads: Understanding the role of consultants and managers in the evolution of ideas

Russell Williams (Hull University Business School, Hull, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 July 2004

Abstract

This conceptual paper concerns management fashions and fads. It focuses on the way that concepts, techniques and ideas become popular in the marketplace and the role of knowledge entrepreneurs and disseminators in this process. Utilising memetics – the study of memes – the paper demonstrates how some concepts, techniques and ideas prosper in the marketplace, not because of their economic reproductive capacity, but instead because of their interpersonal reproductive capacity. Knowledge entrepreneurs and disseminators (gurus and consultants) might in this light be cast as “evil Svengalis”, bringing forth contagious concepts that serve nobody except themselves. In other words, managers are somehow preyed upon, duped and tricked by gurus and consultants unleashing the latest designer mind management virus. A closer look at the institutional context into which concepts, techniques and ideas are forwarded, as well as the selection process for them, suggests however a more complex relationship exists between managers and consultants. Indeed, in this relationship, managers are likely to play an important part in the consumption of fashions and fads.

Keywords

Citation

Williams, R. (2004), "Management fashions and fads: Understanding the role of consultants and managers in the evolution of ideas", Management Decision, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 769-780. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740410542339

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited