Leading students through the management theory jungle by following the path of the seminal theorists

David J. Lemak (Department of Management and Operations, College of Business and Economics, Washington State University at Tri‐Cities, Richland, Washington, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 December 2004


The “management theory jungle” described by Koontz appears to be overrun with even more theoretical undergrowth than when he wrote his seminal critiques of the state of this body of knowledge more than 40 years ago. This article endeavors to provide a clear and fairly narrow path through that jungle, using the seminal thinkers in management as our guides. It recommends adopting a paradigm‐based approach to the management discipline rather than struggling through the jungle of multiple theories and “schools of thought”. This approach satisfies the criteria set forth by Koontz to bring much needed clarification to the discipline of management. Specifically this approach: restricts the discipline to a manageable size; uses its simple and straightforward terminology; and gives direction to teaching and research. The article concludes with a discussion of some ideas on how to teach management using this paradigmatic approach.



Lemak, D. (2004), "Leading students through the management theory jungle by following the path of the seminal theorists", Management Decision, Vol. 42 No. 10, pp. 1309-1325. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740410568999

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