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What management history can tell us about the postpandemic workplace, and other useful things?

Chester Spell (School of Business, Rutgers, Camden, New Jersey, USA)
Katerina Bezrukova (School of Management, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 11 August 2022

Issue publication date: 6 April 2023




The purpose of this paper is to show that histories of how past crises were managed can help us anticipate how today’s public health challenges will permanently change the workplace and at least some aspects of management practice.


This paper reviews prominent public health histories and leadership responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors interpret these accounts of past crises to anticipate the long-lasting effects of the COVID pandemic. This also can be seen as a case study of how public health crises are managed and the effects of that management.


It is likely that several changes will come to the workplace, similar to transformations that happened after past pandemics. Technologies incorporating virtuality will see adoption accelerated. Health behaviors may change, especially in certain cultures or industries. The psychological contract between employees and management may increasingly emphasize autonomy as a prized attribute, again in some cultures more than others.


In looking at past pandemics and public health crises, and the way leaders reacted, one can learn about the potential for current health- and conflict-related events to unfold and alter workplace practices and norms.



The authors would like to thank Brad Bowden and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and guidance on earlier drafts.


Spell, C. and Bezrukova, K. (2023), "What management history can tell us about the postpandemic workplace, and other useful things?", Journal of Management History, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 167-178.



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