Fads, stereotypes and management gurus: Fayol and Follett today

Lee D. Parker (School of Commerce, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)
Philip Ritson (School of Commerce, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 December 2005

Abstract

Purpose

The management profession has a long and well‐documented history adopting and abandoning “fads” promulgated by a series of thinkers, practitioners, and opinion leaders who enjoy a “guru” like status. The purpose of this paper shows that stereotyping contributes to the existence of this guru‐fad phenomenon.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines the characteristics of both management fads and the phenomenon of stereotyping with reference to two leading historical management practitioners and thinkers, Henri Fayol and Mary Parker Follett.

Findings

Drawing on the examples of Mary Parker Follett and Henri Fayol, it argues that the influence exerted by other management gurus and fads, such as Frederick Winslow Taylor's Scientific Management and Elton Mayo's Human Relations Movement, gave rise to a stereotyped view of both Follett and Fayol's work that prevented an accurate appraisal of their ideas.

Research limitations/implications

In addition, this paper notes that, while Follett and Fayol exhibited an extraordinary capacity to identify the very issues that have spawned many subsequent management fads, the contemporary management discipline's approach to both thinkers is quite different. While Follett has escaped her earlier stereotypes, allowing management thinkers a new opportunity to re‐assess her work and value its contemporary relevance, Fayol remains misclassified as a European Taylorist who has little to offer the contemporary management practitioner.

Originality/value

This paper provides an interesting insight into the characteristics of both management fads and the phenomenon of stereotyping.

Keywords

Citation

Parker, L. and Ritson, P. (2005), "Fads, stereotypes and management gurus: Fayol and Follett today", Management Decision, Vol. 43 No. 10, pp. 1335-1357. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740510634903

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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