Editorial

Bradley Bowden (Department of Employment Relations and Human Resource Management, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 11 February 2019

Issue publication date: 29 January 2019

Citation

Bowden, B. (2019), "Editorial", Journal of Management History, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 2-8. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMH-01-2019-287

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited


Although the Journal of Management History has no formal association with the Academy of Management, it is nevertheless the case that the intellectual and institutional associations are close and long lasting. Since the journal was revived in its current form by David Lamond, each of the journal’s Editors – David, Shawn Carraher and myself – have served as Chair of the AOM’s Management History Division, as did Patrick Murphy who served as acting Editor for a period in 2015. All of JMH’s Associate Editors are active in the MHD. James Wilson is the current Chair. Andrew Cardow is the current Program Chair. JMH also provides on an annual basis one of the most prestigious awards for the MHD’s best papers. It is thus fitting that the first article in this edition commemorates the contribution of Carolyn R. Dexter, a key figure in the history of the AOM; a figure whose contribution is recognised through the award each year of the Carolyn Dexter award to the paper deemed to be the best international-themed piece submitted to the AOM’s Annual Meeting (I was fortunate to be a finalist in 2011). It is thus extremely fitting that the first paper in this first edition of 2019 is a work that explores the unique contribution of Dexter to the AOM and to the cause of academia and female advancement more broadly. Entitled “Carolyn Dexter’s Legacies: a broader perspective on faculty work productivity and impact”, this pioneering work by Silvia Monserrat and Claire Simmers notes that Dexter – who worked as an academic at Pennsylvania State University for 30 years prior to her death in 1999 – was not someone who would probably be gauged as “academically productive” by most university administrators in today’s environment. Across her long career, Dexter published only four journal articles – in 1977, 1985, 1988 and 1991. A poor publisher, Dexter’s contribution was in areas little valued today – teaching and professional service. As Monserrat and Simmers record, Dexter was President of both the Eastern Academy of Management and the International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management. Within the AOM, she was largely responsible for the establishment of the International Program Committee and the transformation of what had been a USA-centric organisation into the current globally oriented body. Dexter’s influence was, in short, profound.

Our second article, “Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls: the management innovator who civilized dining in the Wild West”, is by two authors with a long and distinguished association with – and advocacy of – management History. David Van Fleet served as Chair of the MHD in 1983. His co-author for this piece, Robert Ford, was Chair in 1991. Van Fleet has also penned one of the best pieces of advice on the process of writing management history, published in this journal in 2008 under the title “Doing Management History”. In this beautifully and evocatively written article, Ford and Van Fleet take us back to the days of the American West; a time when the railroads were seminal in opening up the interior of the North American continent for settlement. For those travelling on the railroads the experience was initially rough and ready. Rest stops and facilities were few. Service standards typically varied between bad and appalling. To redress these failings, Fred Harvey – an English immigrant – persuaded the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (Santa Fe) railroad to allow the establishment of a railroad restaurant at the Topeka station. When this proved a resounding success, Harvey rapidly expanded his business so that by 1883 he had 18 restaurants operating along the Santa Fe system. Despite this success, the recruitment of labour to staff the restaurants proved to be an enduring problem in what was still a frontier environment. Following a brawl between staff and customers in 1883, Harvey hit upon a radical solution: he would employ only women. The revolutionary nature of this decision needs to be seen in the context of the times. As Ford and Van Fleet note, “No one outside of the New England textile factories had hired women in large numbers.” Previously, waitress work in hotels and the like was only associated with “women of ill repute”. The pool of suitable female recruits along the Santa Fe and other western railroads was close to non-existent. To recruit single woman of some education from the East, as Harvey decided to do, involved persuading not only prospective recruits that they were embarking on a safe and remunerative career but also their parents. While Harvey initially recruited by word-of-mouth, this proved inadequate, forcing him – as Ford and Van Fleet note – “to invent new ways of recruiting, training and retaining employees to accommodate the unique challenges of employing nice women and sending them to distant restaurant locations.” As business expanded, Harvey found himself having to maintain a staff of at least 738 women; a workforce spread across 82 restaurants each of which typically engaged nine “Girls”. Unsurprisingly, staff turnover was high as the “Harvey Girls” proved highly attractive spouses in the female-deficient West. That the business proved such an enduring success speaks to not only Harvey and his innovative HRM systems but also the socially liberating effects of modern management systems: systems that seek out the best and most qualified forms of labour. While modern free market societies are frequently lampooned for their oppressive gender biases the truth is that they have opened up unequalled opportunities for women; jobs that allowed ordinary women to construct careers free of male dependence for the first time in human history. The opportunities that Harvey created are but one – if a pioneering – example of this.

The third article in this edition, by Yaron Zoller and Jeffrey Muldoon and entitled “Illuminating the principles of social exchange theory with Hawthorne studies”, takes us back to one of the seminal moments in management history – the Hawthorne studies – and the foundations of modern social exchange theory. As readers of this journal would be aware, the Hawthorne studies – conducted under the nominal direction of Elton Mayo at the Hawthorne Electric Works in the late 1920s and early 1030s – are arguably the most influential and controversial studies ever undertaken in our discipline. For many of us, they emphasise the importance of the human element in managerial endeavours. For others, they were poorly conducted and misreported. In revisiting the Hawthorne studies, Zoller and Muldoon place George Homans – a student of Mayo’s at Harvard and a constant defender of the Hawthorne studies – at the centre of their story. For Homans, the process of “spontaneous cooperation” and mutual dependence among members of the work groups studied at the Hawthorne Works were key to his enunciations of the Social Exchange Theory in his 1950 study, Human Group. As Homans came to believe, Social Exchange Theory is central to explaining human behaviour, which he argued was built around social exchanges between two or more people, whereby parties anticipated a future benefit to themselves if they delivered a beneficial outcome to another party. In exploring the genesis of Homan’s ideas, Zoller and Muldoon take us into a detailed examination of the “relay assembly tests” at the Hawthorne Works between 1927 and 1933. The longest running of any of the Hawthorne studies, this project involved a layout operator and five female assembly workers. As the study continued, it became increasingly apparent that the workers feelings of social worth was being enhanced through their relationship with the researchers; a relationship reinforced by the fact that they received a higher rate of pay whilst involved in the study. Accordingly, absenteeism and other measures of worker discontent fell to extraordinarily low levels. Homans also observed that the more cohesive the work group came the greater the behavioural changes in group members. This outcome contrasted with other studies of other work groups at the Hawthorne Works – most notably the “micra splitting tests” (1928-1930) and the “bank wiring tests” (1931-1932) – where either group loyalties failed to develop or group behaviour was directed towards anti-managerial and economically destructive behaviour. What nevertheless became clear in all of these studies is that it is intergroup relationships and social exchanges that hold the key to group performance – not managerial oversight per se. For the readers of JMH, as for me, I suspect the most interesting part of the Zoller and Muldoon paper is the detailed descriptions of the various tests; descriptions that include verbatim accounts of the interviews conducted with workers in the various Hawthorne Works experiments.

Our fourth study, by Eden Gunawan and entitled The Implementation of Ship and Port Facility Security Policy Based on ISPS Code at PT Pelindo II (Cirebon Branch), takes us to a very different aspect of management history: the maintenance of port security in Indonesia with a particular focus on the port of Cirebon; a city of some 2.5 million that is responsible for supplying the West Java hinterland with a variety of goods, imported either in bulk (most notably coal) or via containers. At first glance, an apparently simple logistics story, this study takes us into the murky world of theft, coal “plundering” and complex community relationships. As Gunawan describes it, Indonesia’s ports are beset by a host of problems that threaten national economic development. Containers take far longer to clear Indonesian ports than is the case in nearby Malaysia, Singapore and India. Consequently, port logistics costs amount to 27 per cent of the cost of imported goods. At Cirebon, so-called gerandong (coal plunderers”) post a very significant problem. Some coal is stolen from the port rail system. Coal plunderers also use their own motorised boats, disrupting legal trade. To offset this organised theft, coal companies have attempted to buy off the culprits by voluntarily surrendering to them a percentage of the coal being imported. Unsurprisingly, however, this concession merely drove more theft and higher demands. In tracing the policy responses to this problem, Gunawan notes that police and/or military enforcement has proved largely ineffective; an outcome that Gunawan attributes to poverty and the community support for the “plunderers”. Accordingly, more recent policy initiatives have been associated with various “corporate social responsibility” initiatives; initiatives that involve the transfer of money and/or coal to local villagers. What is nevertheless evident is that official commitment to policy initiatives remains weak, most particularly when it comes to enforcement .While such problems persist, it is evident, Indonesia’s economic development will almost certainly be curtailed.

In the fifth article in this edition, by Isabella Krsya, Albert Mills and Mariana Paludi entitled “The Racialization of Immigrants in Canada – a Historical Investigation of How Race Still Matters”, we have another piece by well-credentialed contributors. In this paper, Krysa, Mills and Paludi touch on themes that are central to our societies – poverty, immigration and race. In exploring how these themes have unfortunately come together in modern Canada, Krysa, Mills and Paludi identify what they refer to – drawing upon an early study by Block and Galabuzi (2011) – as the “racialization of poverty”. In many ways, the story that Krysa, Mills and Paludi tell goes to the heart of New World immigrant societies – Canada, Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Argentina etc. – where the promise of immigration was social success, if not for you at least for your children or grandchildren. While the delivery of this promise was never assured, it is the case that for current immigrants – typically coming from non-European societies – the promise of immigration is more elusive than ever. As early as 1996, Krysa, Mills and Paludi note, Canadian immigrants were typically receiving incomes that were only 60 per cent of that received by native-born Canadians. In discussing such problems, Krysa, Mills and Paludi frame their analysis by drawing on the construct of “whiteness as a discursive practice of diversity”; a construct which in turn draws on the wider body of thought framed by both Critical Diversity Studies and Foucauldian perspectives. In the view of Krsya, Mills and Paludi, the dominant Anglo-Saxon, white middle-class have historically been seen in Canada and elsewhere as “raceless”; all other ethnic groups being regarded as deviations from this dominant norm. As Krsysa, Mills and Paludi record, the achievement of this “raceless” norm has been a dominant theme throughout Canadian history, being directed against not only immigrants from non-European backgrounds but also indigenous peoples and European immigrants from outside the British Isles and the adjacent societies of Northwest Europe. In Krysa, Mills and Paludi’s opinion, the “multiculturalism” that has characterised Canadian society since the 1970s left the underlying constructs of “whiteness” largely unchallenged. The Anglo-Saxon identity was still the norm against which all others were evaluated. Fittingly, at the end of their analysis, Krysa, Mills and Paludi pose questions rather than answers; questions relating to the ways in which Canadian governments and the wider society evaluate “the ‘quality’ of refugees”.

In the final two articles in this edition, we have what I regard to be highly significant intellectual challenges to the recently published A New History of Management: a book co-authored by Stephen Cummings et al. (2017). Given the New History of Management is, as its authors indicate (p. 42), “inspired by Foucault” – and is a continuation of the so-called “Historic Turn” proclaimed by Clark and Rowlinson (2004) in their article, “The treatment of history in organisation studies: towards an ‘historic turn’?” – the articles by Bernardo Batiz-Lazo (What is New in a “New History of Management”?) and Jeffrey Muldoon (Stubborn things: evidence, postmodernism and the craft of history) represent a challenge not only to a A New History of Management but also to the wider and proliferating type of research that it embodies.

Before introducing the articles by Batiz-Lazo and Muldoon in detail a few words are appropriate to establish my own personal position and that of this journal, the two being necessarily distinct. At a personal level, the articles by Batiz-Lazo and Muldoon share commonalities with the repudiation of the so-called “Historic Turn” “scholarship” that is expressed in my most recent book, Work, Wealth and Postmodernism: The Intellectual Conflict at the Heart of Business Endeavour. In this, I observed (Bowden, 2018, p. 19) that the so-called “Historic Turn” literature was “disingenuous”, in that it was primarily concerned with what the Dutch postmodernist, Frank Ankersmit (1989), called a “horizontality” of research – where one looks at what others have written – in lieu of a “verticality” of interest, where the primary focus of one’s research efforts is the objective reality of the world. In other words, rather than leading towards historic research and an engagement with the past it leads away from it. With regard to the New History of Management more specifically, I (Bowden, 2018, p. 216) declared it to be a perfect exemplification of the postmodernist tendency “to make ‘factual’ assertions that have little basis in objective reality.” Certainly, in my personal view, the so-called “Historic Turn” has had too easy a run for far too long. Yes, it is true that the advocates of the “Historic Turn” have been inordinately successful in getting their work published in “top” journals – and in capturing the editorship of business and management history journals as well as Executive positions within the Academy of Management. However, in my view – and of Bernardo Batiz-Lazo and Jeffrey Muldoon – such successes can only temporarily mask the intellectual shallowness of the “Historic Turn” literature, its failure to locate itself in the deep intellectual and philosophic traditions of Western thought (Plato, Kant, Berkeley, Vico, Fichte, Nietzsche, etc.) and articulate where it stands in terms of these traditions. There is also, it should be noted, a depressing sameness to the so-called “Historic Turn” literature. If one reads the recent “Special Issue Introduction” to “Historical Research on Institutional Change” in Business History, for example, co-authored by Stephanie Decker et al. (2018), one finds the same excited enunciation of supposed theoretical novelty that one has previously read in previous articles by many of the same people - see, for example, Booth and Rowlinson (2006), Rowlinson et al. (2014), Kipping and Űsdiken (2014) and Decker et al. (2015).

If at a personal level I find much of the so-called “Historic Turn” literature to be intellectual shallow, my position as Editor must be different. As Editor, I and the journal’s Associate Editors must remain open to different perspectives. I would like to think that this journal has done so and will continue to do so. One of the two papers declared to be the Outstanding Paper of 2017 – by Kristin Williams and Albert Mills (“Frances Perkins: Gender, Context and History in the Neglect of a Management Theorist”) – was grounded very much in postmodernist critical theory. I was as supportive as any of my Associate Editors in declaring this paper to be “outstanding”. By any standards, it was rich in empirical research and theoretical reflection. The Special Issue on Methodologies, which will come out later in 2019, is characterised by a wide array of articles grounded in various traditions of “critical management”. Gabbie Durepos, one of the Special Issue editors (the other being Wim Van Lent), is a noted amodernist and arguably the leading advocate of ANTi-History.

In terms of the articles by Batiz-Lazo and Muldoon, both these papers started as “book reviews”. However, as JMH no longer has a book review section, I encouraged both authors to expand their pieces into a wider engagement with the issues raised in the New History of Management and to go through the normal review process, which they did. With regard to the article by Batiz-Lazo, which was completed before the one by Muldoon, it should be noted that I provided a copy of this article to the authors of the New History of Management with an invitation to respond. This invitation was extended in July 2018, but not taken up. The invitation to respond to not only Batiz-Lazo’s article but also Muldoon’s, nevertheless, remains open. It should also be noted that I am working with Albert Mills and Milorad Novecivic so that in the very near future an issue of JMH is given over to an open debate between “critical management” and “traditionalist” perspectives on management history and research more generally.

In the first of our two dissections of the New History of Management, Bernardo Batiz-Lazo ponders What is New in ‘A New History of Management’?. In Batiz-Lazo’s opinion, A New History of Management encapsulates “the myopic and technically poor approach of the ‘Historic Turn’.” At a theoretical level, Batiz-Lazo repeatedly points to the intellectual shallowness of Cummings et al. (2017), observing at one point that:

[…] in line with the ‘Historic Turn’ literature A New History of Management excludes any critique of Foucault or indeed references to other alternatives to Positivism such as the work of Bordeou, Karl Marx, Derrida, White, Latour, and others […] Lack of evident intellectual roots is not only poor scholarship but questions the validity and reliability of their critique.

Batiz-Lazo also finds A New History of Management to be typically devoid of contextual understanding whilst being resplendent in historical inaccuracies. While commending the authors of A New History of Management for their attempt to “revise” the popular opinion of Adam Smith and his work, Batiz-Lazo goes on to note that:

[…] their analysis little accords with either textual or historiographical analysis. There is no reference, for instance, to the work of notable Smith scholars like Paul Tonks and Richard Schumacher, let alone the philosophical links between Smith and John Locke or John Stuart Mill.

Elsewhere, Batiz-Lazo notes that the “conspicuously impoverished narrative” found in the New History of Management is revealed in the author’s confused understandings as “to the early stages of capitalism and the market economy”. In concluding, Batiz-Lazo observes that:

This book is not the work one would expect of one of the top academic publishers nor of four, well-established, senior academics in universities of international reputation – one of which makes the humble claim to have ‘authored the landmark article’ on the subject.

In the final article in this edition, Muldoon – in his second article in this edition – continues the critical analysis of the New History of Management. As with Batiz-Lazo, Muldoon highlights the many historical inaccuracies and gross simplifications that characterise this supposedly groundbreaking work. The attempts to portray Frederick Taylor as an early advocate of “conservation” and “sustainability” are rightly dismissed as ludicrous. Muldoon, whose understanding of the United States’ Progressive era is self-evidently superior to that of the authors of the New History of Management, also correctly notes that the attempt to portray the Progressive movement as a single body of thought is also misguided. As Muldoon notes, some Progressives sought to free their communities from the dictates of elites. Others sought a technocracy, ruled by educated elite. Where Muldoon differs from Batiz-Lazo, however, is in articulating a defence for the “theoretical frameworks and epistemology” found in the various editions of The Evolution of Management Thought; a work initially authored by Dan Wren but subsequently revised by both Wren and his colleague, Art Bedeian. As anyone with more than a passing knowledge of management history knows, the influence of Wren and Bedeain (2018) has been pervasive in recent decades. The alumni of the University of Oklahoma (the long-time abode of Wren) and Louisiana State University (Bedeian) are – fortunately in the view of this Editor – many in number. This alumni has provided, over the years, many of the articles in this journal. Significantly, Muldoon counts among this alumni, being a graduate of the LSU. In defending the intellectual tradition of which he is a living part, Muldoon argues that what separates the tradition of which he is a part from the work found in the New History of Management is the belief that research should be “based on the preponderance of evidence”. While, Muldoon argues, no “scholar ever believed that historians were completely and totally objective”, there is nevertheless an expectation that debates should turn primarily on evidence; rather than ideology or wishful thinking. At the end of the day, Muldoon concludes “The historian is in bondage. No historical claim, no statement, no matter how noble or dishonourable; sad or happy; uplifting or horrifying, can be made without evidence.” If scholarship deigns to rally behind such “a standard of scholarship”, Muldoon asks, “what should be our banner?” It is hard to think of a more fundamental question.

References

Booth, C. and Rowlinson, M. (2006), “Management and organizational history: prospects”, Management and Organizational History, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 5-30.

Bowden, B. (2018), Work, Wealth and Postmodernism: The Intellectual Conflict at the Heart of Business Endeavour, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY.

Clark, P. and Rowlinson, M. (2004), “The treatment in organisation studies: towards an ‘historic turn’?”, Business History, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 331-352.

Cummings, S., Bridgman, T., Hassard, J. and Rowlinson, M. (2017), A New History of Management, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Decker, S., Kipping, M. and Whadwhani, R.D. (2015), “New business histories! Plurality in business history research methods”, Business History Review, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 30-40.

Decker, S., Űsdiken, B., Engwall, L. and Rowlinson, M. (2018), “Special issue introduction: historical research on institutional change”, Business History, Vol. 60 No. 5, pp. 613-627.

Kipping, M. and Űsdiken, B. (2014), “History in organization and management theory: more than meets the eye”, The Academy of Management Annals, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 535-558.

Rowlinson, M., Hassard, J. and Decker, S. (2014), “Research strategies for organizational history: a dialogue between historical theory and organization theory”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 250-274.

Wren, D.A. and Bedeain, A.G. (2018), The Evolution of Management Thought, 7th ed., Wiley, New York, NY.