Maslow: man interrupted: reading management theory in context

Kelly Dye (Fred C. Manning School of Business Administration, Acadia University, Wolfville, Canada)
Albert J. Mills (Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada)
Terrance Weatherbee (Fred C. Manning School of Business Administration, Acadia University, Wolfville, Canada)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 December 2005

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to build on recent work in the field of management and historiography that argues that management theorizing needs to be understood in its historical context.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the paper attempts to show how a steady filtering of management theory and of the selection and work of management theorists lends itself to a narrowly focused, managerialist, and functionalist perspective. Second, the paper attempts to show how not only left‐wing ideas, but also even the rich complexity of mainstream ideas, have been “written out” of management accounts. The paper explores these points through an examination of the treatment of Abraham Maslow in management texts over time.

Findings

The paper's conclusion is a simple one: management theory – whether mainstream or critical – does a disservice to the potential of the field when it oversimplifies to a point where a given theory or theorist is misread because sufficient context, history, and reflection are missing from the presentation/dissemination.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the importance of reading the original texts, rather than second or third person accounts, and the importance of reading management theory in the context in which it was/is derived.

Keywords

Citation

Dye, K., Mills, A. and Weatherbee, T. (2005), "Maslow: man interrupted: reading management theory in context", Management Decision, Vol. 43 No. 10, pp. 1375-1395. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740510634921

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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