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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men (sic) who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results (Machiavelli).
This is my first opportunity to engage readers and authors of JMH in 2007, given that issue 13(1) was given over to a special issue on business ethics, guest edited by Paul Govekar. I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Paul for his great work on the special issue, with a most fascinating range of topics covered by the papers included. Readers will remember the absorbing paper by Govekar and Govekar (2006) in issue 12(1), so Paul is making a substantial contribution to the development and growth of JMH. It is our intention to make the “special issue” an annual feature of JMH. Next year, we want to devote an issue to methodology in management history and, in 2009, we want to have a special issue on the contribution of Peter Drucker to the development of management theory and practice, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his birth. If there are other ideas for special issues and/or you would like to play a role in the special issues we already have planned, please contact me at: email@example.com
We are in the process of embedding another new feature in JMH – the Book Review section – and I would like to welcome Stan Glaser to the Editorial team as Book Review Editor. Stan has a long and illustrious career in researching, teaching and the practical applications of marketing, in Australia and Europe. He is also voracious reader across many disciplines and genres, so he was a natural choice when we came to fill this role. We will be working with the publishers to attract books for review and alert you to their availability, but if you have books for review or have recently read a book, for which you would like to provide a review, please contact Stan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Cooke at Manchester in the UK recently drew attention to a paper by Christopher Phelps in the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “My dream archive”. In the paper, Phelps (2007) points to the range of characteristics that would make an ideal archive. He lists long opening hours, availability of competitive grants, stillness and tranquillity, good lighting, document security, non-usurious photocopying rates, good information and communications technologies, comfortable seating, ambience, and creative programming as those elements. Bill Cooke was interested in whether those circulated had any thoughts or feedback on Phelps' list and it led me to consider now adding a “letters to the editor” cum responses to papers section, where we can have an exchange of ideas around the issues explored in JMH rather than the communication being only in one direction. I think it is vital that journals such as JMH are seen as forums for exchange and mutual engagement rather than just another vehicle for the presentation of a cacophony of competing commentaries. Please send your letters/responses to me at: email@example.com and I will seek to incorporate them in a timely fashion, with encouragement to authors to exchange views in the same issue.
And so to the current issue ...
With the re-launching of JMH as an independent journal in January 2006, I took the opportunity, through my editorials during the year, to present a series of considerations on scholarship in management history, using Boyer's (1990) model of scholarship – the scholarship of discovery, integration, application and teaching – to frame the analysis. In doing so, I was able to utilise a number of the excellent papers published in Volume 12 to exemplify the various elements of the model. I am pleased now to introduce the latest contributions to the body of scholarly knowledge in management history by our authors.
The first two papers explore leadership from different perspectives and in different times and places. Boersma (2007) presents an historical analysis of the management of the Research and Development department at Philips and shows that, while the leadership of the department has gone through a series of stages and styles, the common exigency was, and remains, how to find a balance between scientific activities and industrial production. Indeed, the reconciliation of the professional status and motives of individual researchers with the Philips company production strategy is considered to be one of the most difficult questions confronting each of the research managers in turn.
Humphreys et al. (2007) at Texas A&M, Commerce might argue that the Philips experience simply reflects how industrial thinking has led to the focus on individual leadership styles at the expense of broader leadership processes. They argue that there is a need to better understand the relationships of influence amongst leaders and followers and, by way of an examination of the leadership council of the Nez Perce, a celebrated Native American tribe, elucidate what Rost and Smith (1992) have labelled “post-industrial” leadership. At the same time, Humphreys et al. (2007), also demonstrate that this notion of post-industrial leadership was extant in a pre-industrial tribe. Once again we see the value in being cognisant of Machiavelli's observation, quoted at the beginning of this piece – “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times ...” Perhaps the leaders at Philips also would have found this insight useful.
Lohrke et al. (2007) appear to be guided by such an approach when they use the case of Panton, Leslie and Company, trading in the south-east of the present day USA in the 1700s, to inform their evaluation of current models of bargaining power in managing political risk. They highlight the specific resources required for differentiation, as well as the need to balance differentiation and conformity pressures, as critical considerations in managing this risk. In a thoughtful combined application of a resource-based view of the firm and institutional theory, Lohrke et al. (2007), show firstly that, by setting up trading posts that provided access to Native American traders, Panton, Leslie and Company secured their property-based and knowledge-based resources (the latter resources given by, for example, insights in dealing with the Native American traders). Second, they were able to show that, because the trading posts drew resources primarily from the Company rather than the local environment, the Company was able to resist coercive pressure to conform to government demands.
You might be reading this issue of JMH on a train from Paris to London, or on a flight from San Francisco to Sydney, and be enjoying (or not) the range of services provided as part of the overall transportation experience. You might be thinking intermittently of your next holiday and the cruise that you might take, and you might think back to the popular TV program, The Love Boat that aired in the 1970s and 1980s (for our younger historians, see www.retrojunk.com/details_tvshows/392-the-love-boat/) or to the movie Titanic. This is a roundabout introduction to the next paper in this issue, by Ray Coye and Patrick Murphy, who reflect on the service management provided during what they call the “golden age” of the transatlantic ocean liners. Coye and Murphy (2007) draw on a variety of primary and secondary source material is to illustrate the diversity of passenger expectations about the services to be delivered and the challenges of meeting those expectations in a context where customers were essentially contained for extended periods on a ship that was itself a delivery mechanism, completely separated from support services. A key finding is that, with stable and loyal workforces and well designed delivery systems, ocean liners were able deliver service successfully to customer classes with widely varying expectations (“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past ...”).
Over the years, I have had cause regularly to remind my classes and readers that, in the history of management thought, ideas we may think are recent, western, inventions can have much longer, non-western traditions. For example, in Lamond (2003), I noted that, in General and Industrial Administration, Henri Fayol showed himself to be an early, non-North American exponent of authentic leadership, TQM, and gain sharing, among other management strategies and techniques. Another, more celebrated and much further removed example, is given in The Art of War, by Chinese strategist Sun Zi (Tzu, 1981), writing 2,500 years ago. The following quote from Tzu (1981, pp. 16-17), with the modern day equivalents in italics, suggests that strategic leadership and human resource management are not latter day discoveries:
Therefore, when laying your plans, compare the following elements, appraising them carefully:
(1) which ruler possesses the moral law (mission);
(2) whose commander has the most ability (skills);
(3) which army obtains the advantages of heaven & earth (resources);
(4) on which side are regulations and instructions better carried out (communication and performance);
(5) which army is the stronger (skills and resources);
(6) which has the better trained officers and men (training and development);
(7) in which army is there certainty for rewards and punishments being dispensed (performance management).
By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.
The final two papers in the issue are further testimony to the veracity of this claim.
Low Sui Pheng compares contemporary project management principles and practices with the management of building projects in ancient China, utilizing the Yingzao Fashi (or “Treatise on Architectural Methods”), published in 1103 by the Office of Building in the Ministry of Public Works. This document is used to illuminate the official systems instituted for public projects; the management of labour, design and planning of construction works; quantity surveying practices; the use, control and recycling of building materials; and inspection of building elements. Comparison with present day approaches indicates that the principles of construction project management in ancient China are not dissimilar from modern-day practices as far as the management of building projects is concerned.
In the five centuries before, the knowledge of Chinese project management principles was being “managed” into the Yingzao Fashi, Irish monks were carefully gathering, codifying, creating, interpreting, disseminating and using religious and secular knowledge, as part of Ireland's contribution to the re-establishment of organized religious, intellectual and cultural life on continental Europe in the early middle ages (McGrath, 2007). McGrath (2007) examines the relatively sophisticated processes through which the monks (re)created and managed the knowledge base. In doing so, he highlights the ideologies involved in the politically contentious nature of that knowledge (re)creation and the ways in which access to that knowledge was managed to advantage in terms of social position and influence. Noting the implicit ahistoricism of the current knowledge management literature, McGrath (2007) draws out a number of insights to aid current thinking on and debates about of knowledge management.
Whether we are considering issues of leadership, bargaining, service provision, or project/knowledge management, it seems we can benefit from remembering that, while the technologies and contexts may change in different times and places, to the extent that people are indeed animated by the same passions, human events will necessarily have the same results. We can either be resigned to that fate, or use the insights to influence the achievement of desired results.
The particularly erudite (or more likely, more obsessive) among you will have noticed that the Managing Editor title has been replaced by “Publisher” and that the name against that position has changed, from Anna Torrance to Kim Foster. I take this opportunity first, to thank Anna for her contribution to JMH over the last three years – it has truly been a delight to work with such a professional and personable young person, whose range of talents has been rightly recognised and rewarded by the Emerald organisation, by way of a promotion to its product and services research and development team. I also want to welcome Kim into the Publisher role, although she has been working hard on our behalf already for some months now. Emerald clearly practises what it “preaches” through its array of management journals, as demonstrated in its capacity to attract, retain and motivate great workforce members – for that, I am grateful.
Further readingLow, S.P. (2007), “Managing building projects in ancient China: a comparison with modern-day project management principles and practices”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
Boersma, K. (2007), “Managing between science and industry: an historical analysis of the Philips Research and Development Department's Management”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
Boyer, E.L. (1990), Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, NJ.
Coye, R.W. and Murphy, P. (2007), “The golden age: service management on transatlantic ocean liners”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
Govekar, P.L. and Govekar, M.A. (2006), “A tale of two fires: igniting social expectations for managers' responsibility”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 90-9.
Humphreys, J., Ingram, K., Kernek, C. and Sadler, T. (2007), “The Nez Perce leadership council: an historical examination of postindustrial leadership”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
Lamond, D.A. (2003), “Henry Mintzberg vs Henri Fayol: of lighthouses, cubists and the emperor's new clothes”, Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 5-23.
Lohrke, F.T., Simpson, G. and Hunt, D. (2007), “Extending the bargaining power model: eighteenth century lessons from Panton, Leslie and Company in managing political risk”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
McGrath, P. (2007), “Knowledge management in monastic communities of the medieval Irish Celtic church”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 2.
Phelps, C. (2007), “My dream archive”, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2 January, available at: http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2007/01/2007010201c/careers.html (accessed 12 January).
Rost, J. and Smith, A. (1992), “Leadership: a postindustrial approach”, European Management Journal, Vol. 10, pp. 193-201.
Tzu, S. (1981) in Clavell, J. (Ed.), The Art of War, Hodder & Stoughton, London.