More on scholarship in management history: moving the “interesting stuff” from the bottom of the page to the top

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 27 June 2008

Citation

Lamond, D.A. (2008), "More on scholarship in management history: moving the “interesting stuff” from the bottom of the page to the top", Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmh.2008.15814caa.001

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


More on scholarship in management history: moving the “interesting stuff” from the bottom of the page to the top

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Management History, Volume 14, Issue 3

I am pleased to introduce this issue of the Journal of Management History (JMH), containing as it does several “firsts” - the introduction of a new section in JMH, entitled “Brief Notes” and reprints of the first two articles published in the JMH, in Volume 1 Issue 1, back in 1995.

To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Emerald Group Publishing Limited worked with the British Library during 2007 to digitize the full archive of its journals collection in business, management, library and information services, materials science and engineering. From March this year, the Emerald Backfiles have been available online for the first time, providing users with direct access to historical articles in a fully searchable format. With a collection that dates back to the nineteenth century, Emerald Backfiles form an interesting and important record for business and management scholars and social historians alike. The Backfiles collection comprises over 120 journal titles with more than 60,000 articles on key management disciplines, providing coverage back to Volume 1 Issue 1 of every journal title, with some articles dating back as far as 1899.

In recognition of this major addition to Emerald’s knowledge base, which has special significance for management historians, this issue of JMH leads with reprints of Taylor’s 1907 lecture on management, given at his at his home, “Boxly”, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Taylor’s (1995) lecture is preceded here by Wrege’s (1995) introduction to the lecture. The Taylor lecture, which later became Chapter 2 of Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management (Wrege, 1995; see also Wrege and Stotka, 1978) is reprinted in this issue, not only as a tribute to Emerald Backfiles but also as a reminder of the critical importance of primary sources to the work of management scholars, not just management historians. I have written previously about primary sources in the methodology of management history (Lamond, 2006a) and shown how myths about such luminaries as Fayol (Lamond, 2003) and Weber (Lamond, 1990) can be established and perpetuated through failure of proper attention to the primary sources. Here we see, through both Taylor’s own words and the careful attention to detail for which Chuck Wrege is so well known, further evidence of the import that needs to be attached to sound historical method as a basis for scholarship in management in general, and management history in particular.

A small group of colleagues from the Management History Division of the Academy of Management had the opportunity to visit Boxly while at the 2007 Academy of Management meeting in Philadelphia, led by the redoubtable Wrege himself, still going strong some 30 years after he had laid open the “truth” of Principles of Scientific Management and Morris Cooke’s major contribution (Wrege and Stotka, 1978). Chuck delivered his tour guide speech from the same spot that Taylor had delivered his 1907 speech and brought new life to Taylor and the surrounds that formed the context of Taylor’s later life. Indeed, there was a sense of “closing the circle” as he did so, recognizing the journey of discovery he had begun those many decades earlier.

At the other end of the issue is the first of what we have chosen to call Brief Notes, which we hope will also become a regular feature of JMH. Coincidentally (rather than by good management) also about F.W. Taylor, this piece by Taylor (no relation) and Bedian (2008) examines a claim that F.W. Taylor used an illegal technique when playing baseball and the spirited defence of Taylor by his son. I am delighted to introduce Brief Notes with Taylor and Bedeian’s (2008) work because it so clearly demonstrates how brief notes or vignettes can contribute to our knowledge base as much as the more discursive works that are the journal’s bread and butter. Even a cursory reading of the article (in which Chuck Wrege also had a vetting role) should highlight to the reader what excellent scholarship was involved in bringing the work together. I might note en passant, that when I advised Art that, the paper had made its way successfully through the review process, he observed in a return e-mail:

As an historian, I’ve long commented that “All the interesting stuff is in the footnotes”. The new Brief Notes section will provide a means for moving the “interesting stuff” from the bottom of the page to the top.

I look forward to being able to move more interesting stuff to the top of the page.

In between these “bookends”, we have a series of very good articles derived from the scholarship of high quality that characterises the contributions and the work of the contributors to JMH, beginning with a piece on scholarship in management history itself, courtesy of David van Fleet, past Chair of the Management History Division of the Academy of Management, past Editor of the Journal of Management and current editor of the Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management. van Fleet has been a familiar face at the “getting published” professional development workshops run by the Management History Division, and this work and this paper is based on his accumulated thoughts around this issue.

van Fleet (2008) observes that, notwithstanding the re-establishment of JMH as an independent journal and the inauguration of Management and Organizational History, management history research remains low on the journal submission and acceptance lists (I might note en passant that, this is in spite of the fact that a properly constructed literature review that precedes the hypotheses of any doctoral thesis should, in theory, be a potential management history piece). Beginning with “the spark”, the initial stimulus, or starting point for historical research, as a basis for weaving a “flame” metaphor through his discussion, van Fleet proffers a valuable series of insights and tips for the creation of more high-quality research that is more interesting to a wider audience.

Using qualitative inquiry through archival research, Fleischman et al. (2008) trace the processes by which W.O. Carpenter, a nineteenth century farmer who went to California in 1850 to make his fortune in gold mining and ended up starting several new business ventures, identified the entrepreneurial opportunities of which he took advantage. Fleischman et al. (2008) draw on Carpenter’s letters to his future wife, Lucetta, to show how he leveraged his success as a miner to branch out in the different directions he perceived as entrepreneurial opportunities associated with the California Gold Rush. They recount Carpenter’s experiences, which included the hardships and poor living conditions faced by gold seekers at the time, and then, in light of opportunity recognition research, draw parallels for entrepreneurs in a modern-day developing economy.

Few management scholars would be unfamiliar with French and Raven’s (1959) power taxonomy - coercive, reward, legitimate, referent and expert - as a basis for understanding sources of influence in organizational contexts, but perhaps not so many have an appreciation of how the taxonomy has evolved in the succeeding decades. Elias (2008) points to this gap in the management literature, highlighting how further work on the French and Raven (1959) taxonomy (Raven, 1993), and the development and testing of Raven’s (1992, 2001) power/interaction model, has not been incorporated management and organizational literature. Filling in this gap in the literature, Elias (2008) provides readers with a reminder that it is important not only to be aware of the seminal works but also to follow that work through if we are to have a properly comprehensive appreciation of the corpus of literature in an area.

I concluded my editorial article in first issue of the relaunched JMH by saying:

Enjoy the Journal of Management History, not just as a transactional series of articles and papers, but as an ongoing conversation between us scribes, for we are truly engaged in a worthy endeavour (Lamond, 2006b, p. 10).

Accordingly, I am pleased to welcome Paul Govekar back to the conversation, as he continues to utilise an approach to his scholarship he employed effectively in Govekar and Govekar (2006), bringing two separate fires, identified as the worst and second-worst industrial accidents in the USA, into juxtaposition. Using contemporaneous and more contemporary sources, the Govekars explored the parallels between the two fires, notwithstanding they were separated by 80 years and hundreds of miles - a failure of regulation and regulatory effort were found to be significant contributors to both the Triangle (1911) and Hamlet (1991) fires and their consequences.

In the same way, Govekar (2008) applies a framework developed by Conrad (2003) to explain the events that led to the corporate meltdowns in the USA at the turn of this century and the events that led to a similar scandal in the US insurance industry at the beginning of the twentieth century. Govekar (2008) shows that corporate misbehaviour and fraud are not simply late twentieth and early twenty-first century phenomena; such misbehaviour was a serious issue at the beginning of the twentieth century as well. Like the insurance scandals in 1905, the corporate meltdown of 2002-2003 resulted in legislative action. Using the lessons learned from these incidents, Govekar (2008) offers a perspective on the probable effective life of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that was enacted by the US Congress in response to the behaviour of the latter day miscreants.

David A. Lamond

References

Conrad, C. (2003), “Setting the stage: introduction to the special issue on the ‘corporate meltdown’”, Management Communication Quarterly, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 5-19

Elias, S. (2008), “Fifty years of influence in the workplace: the evolution of the French and Raven power taxonomy”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 267-83

Fleischman, G.M., Kidwell, R.E. and Kidwell, L.A. (2008), “W.O. Carpenter and the California Gold Rush: the making of entrepreneurial opportunities”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 248-66

French, J.R.P. Jr and Raven, B.H. (1959), “The basis of social power”, in Cartwright, D. (Ed.), Studies in Social Power, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI, pp. 150-67

Govekar, P.L. (2008), “An historical perspective on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 284-93

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

Lamond, D.A. (1990), “The irrational use of Weber’s ideal types”, Australian Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 464-73

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

Lamond, D.A. (2006a), “Matters for judgement: some thoughts on method in management history”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 237-43

Lamond, D.A. (2006b), “Management and its history: the worthy endeavour of the scribe”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 5-11

Raven, B.H. (1992), “A power/interaction model of interpersonal influence”, Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, Vol. 7, pp. 217-44

Raven, B.H. (1993), “The bases of power: origins and recent developments”, Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 49, pp. 227-51

Raven, B.H. (2001), “Power/interaction and interpersonal influence: experimental investigations and case studies”, in Lee-Chai, A.Y. and Bargh, J.A. (Eds), The Use and Abuse of Power: Multiple Perspectives on the Causes of Corruption, Psychology Press, Philadelphia, PA, pp. 217-40

Taylor, F.W. (1995), “Report of a lecture by and questions put to Mr F.W. Taylor: a transcript”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 8-32

Taylor, S.G. and Bedeian, A.G. (2008), “The Fred Taylor baseball myth: a son goes to bat for his father”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 294-98

van Fleet, D.D. (2008), “Doing management history: one editor’s views”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 237-47

Wrege, C.D. (1995), “F.W. Taylor’s lecture on management, 4 June 1907: an introduction”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 4-7

Wrege, C.D. and Stotka, A-M. (1978), “Cooke creates a classic: the story behind F.W. Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 736-49