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The evolution of management as an interdisciplinary field

Peter van Baalen (Department of Decision and Information Sciences, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Luchien Karsten (Department of Global Economics and Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 6 April 2012




This paper aims to provide insights into the evolution of the concept of interdisciplinarity in management science and management education.


A range of recently published (1993‐2002) works, which aim to provide practical advice rather than theoretical books on pedagogy or educational administration, are critiqued to aid the individual make the transition into academia. The sources are sorted into sections: finding an academic job, general advice, teaching, research and publishing, tenure and organizations.


The paper finds that in the evolution of management education and management science interdisciplinarity took different forms: synoptic and instrumental. Both forms resulted from different knowledge strategies of competing and cooperating disciplines. It concludes that in The Netherlands instrumental versions of interdisciplinarity in management research and education prevailed.

Research limitations/implications

The paper studies the evolution of interdisciplinarity in management education and management science in the Dutch higher education context. It assumes that the pattern of evolution differs from country to country.

Practical implications

Interdisciplinarity is a complex concept. This study provides practical insights into the dynamics of interdisciplinary collaboration.


Much has been written about interdisciplinarity in science and education. However there is hardly any empirical and historical research on this topic.



van Baalen, P. and Karsten, L. (2012), "The evolution of management as an interdisciplinary field", Journal of Management History, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 219-237.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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