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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
I am pleased to introduce this special issue of the Journal of Management History, titled “Our dreams of excellence – learning from the past and architecturing (sic) the future” and edited by Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park of the Institute of Service Management at Lund University.
The title of the issue is taken from the main theme for the 10th International QMOD (Quality Management and Organisational Development) Conference, jointly organised by Lund University, Campus Helsingborg and Linköping University, and held from 18-20 June, 2007. The issue is based on a selection of “best papers” from the conference, chosen and reviewed by Su Mi and her editorial colleagues. I make some observations about this collection of papers, and its fit with JMH, in my comments below. I also take the opportunity to make up for the absence of an editorial to introduce issue 13(3) by doing the journal editor's equivalent of a radio “back announcement”. Let me begin with the back announcement.
I was disappointed that travelling and several other competing commitments beyond my control prevented my being able to provide an editorial to accompany the publication of JMH 13(3) because, as a collection of papers, it represents an important touchstone in the continuing enhancement of quality in the production and representation of the management history scholarship proffered in JMH. It is satisfying to be able to acknowledge properly now the contribution of each of the authors in this regard.
Entrepreneurship, mentoring and the quality movement are often presented as late twentieth century concepts. Honig and Black (2007), Connell (2007) and Meyer and Bishop (2007) have dispelled each of these mistaken beliefs in turn. In their exploration of two hundred years of entrepreneurship and “dis-entrepreneurship” in a small Scottish town, Honig and Black (2007) examined the largely overlooked area of communities that temporarily demonstrate successful social and economic success, but subsequently regress in an attempt to explain the causes of community dis- entrepreneurship. Their work highlights the importance of effective community leadership and hopefully will spur future research regarding the cyclic nature of community development.
Connell (2007) combines current mentoring frameworks with a sociohistorical, biographical approach in her consideration of Fritz Machlup's mentoring content, style and impact on Edith Penrose's methodology and argumentation in The Theory of the Growth of the Firm. This relationship, which began in the late 1940s and continued through to the 1980s, closely follows Kram's (1983) phases of mentorship and Connell's (2007) exposition draws attention to what appears to have been a most effective cross-gender and cross-cultural mentoring association.
In her editorial introduction to the paper by Komashie et al. (2007), our guest editor notes approvingly the work of Florence Nightingale as an example of the professional approach to systematic quality evaluation in healthcare during the mid-1800s. Her sentiments and those of Komashie et al. (2007) are entirely consistent with the views of Meyer and Bishop (2007), who, in our previous issue, referred to Nightingale as a nineteenth century “apostle of quality”. Their analysis of her life and writings demonstrate that a place in the quality literature for Florence Nightingale is well deserved.
Much has been written about the influence of Herbert Simon's book, Administrative Behavior, since the publication of its first edition in 1947. As Kerr (2007) points out, however, despite being widely read and the subject of much critical commentary, no systematic analysis has been made of its philosophical underpinnings. Kerr (2007) seeks to remedy this with an examination of the philosophical sources Simon acknowledged as profoundly shaping the enquiry and conclusions found in his book – William James, John Dewey, A.J. Ayer and Rudolph Carnap. Kerr's (2007) efforts provide for a much deeper understanding of Simon and his book, as well as providing a context for the debate that has surrounded them both for more than 50 years.
I have written on a number of occasions that the raison d'être of the Journal of Management History is to examine how the past stays with us to inform the present and shape the future. The theme of the 10th QMOD, which is the title of this special issue – Our Dreams of Excellence – Learning from the Past and Architecturing the Future – fits very well with this editorial vision of JMH.
Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park's editorial uses a neat framework to introduce the issue, with the words from an embroidery about what excellence is and how it can be obtained, informing her discussion by references to the various papers in the issue. I will not preempt that discussion; rather I will use a different organizing theme. The first two papers take us to ancient conceptions of excellence. Anninos (2007) transports us to the world of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, where excellence (aristeia in Hellenic) is a state of nature in which its constituting factors (for example, harmony, good, knowledge) exist in their absolute and exceptionally good form. It is a dynamic situation in which people think, sense and act based on a mental framework comprising fundamental values, ideas and knowledge. In the Platonic dialogues, Socrates presents excellence as constituted by ethical virtues, justice, beauty and benefit – the heart of excellence is “good”.
Foo's (2007) exposition of what he calls the spiritual equivalent of emotional intelligence, SQ, explores the “OM” of manufacturing. The ancient, Indian OM is widely accepted in spiritual circles as the primordial sound of the universe. Using the OM symbol as a metaphor, Foo (2007) suggests that dimensions of competition – and roots for future excellence – may lie in creating products that are the dreams of customers. The primordial sound of OM, as reflected in the Sanskrit symbol, is used to propose a synthesis between management and spirituality where form (a specific product) emerges out of the formless (wants, preferences, dreams). Foo (2007) argues that interactive design media technology applied to manufacturing can facilitate the path of this transformation.
The next two papers provide us with insights into the contexts within which people have dreamed the dream of excellence and the languages they have used to do so. Gates and Steane (2007) trace the development of economic theory up until recent times when the term “economic rationalism” became a household name, from the Grecian period considered by Anninos (2007), through the “middle ages”into the modern era. Here we read of the inexorable shift in the understanding of “good” in the context of excellence to good as product. Gates' and Steane's (2007) paper embraces a series of economic systems – including mercantilism, classical economics, the marginalist revolution and neoclassical economic theory – which have enabled policymakers to rationalize their responses to economic problems.
Florence Nightingale's nineteenth century apostleship of quality (cf Meyer and Bishop, 2007), unfolded at a time when the motivation for systematic quality evaluation in healthcare was primarily a concern of individual professionals rather than being driven by the expression of consumer/patient needs (Komashie et al., 2007). Komashie et al. (2007) review the historical development of quality assessment methods in the manufacturing industry and in healthcare, from the days of Nightingale and her colleagues to more recent times, when, they argue, it is evident that the primary concern for quality now comes from a pressing need to satisfy the customer (or patient) both in industry and healthcare.
Dahlgaard-Park and Dahlgaard (2007) present and reflect on some well known excellence frameworks in order to understand developments in the contents of excellence during the last 25 years and to understand the problems or limitations which these models still may have. The models they examine include Peters' and Waterman's (1982) eight excellence attributes, Peters' and Austin's (1985) excellence model, Xerox Excellence Models (1990, 2002), The European Excellence Model (1992), and Toyota's 4P model (Liker, 2004). In their examination, they note the tendency for these models to be interpreted from reductionist and positivistic views, ignoring the human aspect and the soft dimension when organisations try to implement the model in their struggle to achieve excellence.
Finally, Zink (2007) discusses the post-World War II development of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement as a basis for considering where our dreams of excellence might take us in the future. In doing so, he seeks to link TQM and the latter day “business excellence” models with the notions of corporate sustainability, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, underpinned by a stakeholder framework. And so we come full circle to seeing Zink's (2007) future understanding of business excellence being tied to a modern recapitulation of the Hellenic concept of excellence (aristeia) in which people think, sense and act based on a mental framework constituted by fundamental values, ideas and knowledge.
Anninos, L.N. (2007), “The archetype of excellence in universities and TQM”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.
Connell, C.M. (2007), “Discerning a mentor's role: the influence of Fritz Machlup on Edith Penrose and the theory of the growth of the firm”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 3.
Dahlgaard-Park, S.M. and Dahlgaard, J.J. (2007), “Excellence – 25 years evolution”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.
Foo, C.T. (2007), “OM of manufacturing: exploring futuristic manufacturing perspectives”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.
Gates, D.K. and Steane, P. (2007), “Historical origins and development of economic rationalism”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.
Honig, B. and Black, E.L. (2007), “The industrial revolution and beyond: two hundred years of entrepreneurship and `dis-entrepreneurship' in a small Scottish town”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 3.
Kerr, G. (2007), “The development history and philosophical sources of Herbert Simon's administrative behavior”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 3.
Komashie, A., Mousavi, A. and Gore, J. (2007), “Quality management in healthcare and industry: a comparative review and emerging themes”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.
Kram, K.E. (1983), “Phases of the mentor relationship”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 608-26.
Liker, J.K. (2004), The Toyota Way, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
Meyer, B.C. and Bishop, D.S. (2007), “Florence Nightingale: 19th century Apostle of quality”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 3.
Peters, T.J. and Austin, N.K. (1985), Passion for Excellence, Warner Books, New York, NY.
Peters, T.J. and Waterman, R.H. (1982), In Search of Excellence – Lessons from Americas Best-Run Companies, HarperCollins Publishers, London.
Zink, K.J. (2007), “From total quality management to corporate sustainability based on a stakeholder management”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 No. 4.