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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Management History, Volume 17, Issue 4
Welcome to this fourth issue of Volume 17 of the Journal of Management History (JMH). The welcome I proffer is a bittersweet one, as this is my last to readers in my capacity as the Editor of JMH. The combination of an increase in competing demands on my time, as my academic and administrative responsibilities have grown in the last several years, and a wish to be part of a reinvigoration and refreshment of the JMH after eight years at the editorial helm, has led me to the decision to pass the baton to a new leadership team. After introducing the issue in usual style, I will beg your indulgence, as I take the opportunity to proffer thanks to those who have been part of the JMH journey over the last eight years.
The six articles that constitute this issue span the usual kinds of inputs that JMH readers have come to expect, with the first four papers concerning thinkers about management – Frederick Winslow Taylor (Tikhomirov, 2011), Lyndall Urwick (Parker and Ritson, 2011), Herbert Simon (Kerr, 2011) and Chester Barnard (Novicevic et al., 2011) – followed by the application of theories about group behaviour to the understanding of an event in the west of the mid-nineteenth century USA (Patton, 2011) and a reexamination of contemporary interpretations of Alfred Marshall’s thinking about industrial districts (Akoorie, 2011).
In this centenary year of the publication of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, Tikhomirov (2011) presents the results of his investigation into Taylor’s claim that he acquired the notion of time study while he was a student at Phillips Exeter Academy under the tutelage of George A. “Bull” Wentworth. Noting Taylor’s long-term fascination with time study, Tikhomirov (2011) wonders about how Taylor learned about the idea of time study in the first place and then proceeds to answer the question. In doing so, Tikhomirov (2011) turns the spotlight on Wentworth, and the Taylor-Wentworth relationship, as seminal in the development of Taylor’s ideas in regard to time study.
It seems apropos to proceed from this appreciation of a key influence on F.W. Taylor’s thinking, to the life and times of one on whom Taylor had such an enormous influence in turn – Lyndall Urwick, described in the next article, by Parker and Ritson (2011), as “a staunch and unapologetic advocate of Frederick Taylor’s work”. Parker’s and Ritson’s (2011) wide-ranging reflections on Urwick and his published works, begins with his background and career, and the extent to which he owed an intellectual debt to Frederick Taylor; continues to Urwick’s incorporation of other management thinkers’ ideas into his world of scientific management; and finishes with an evaluation of Urwick’s contribution to our thinking about management.
This series of reflections leads Parker and Ritson (2011) to a set of conclusions, one of which is particularly apposite as a consideration for readers of management theory and practice in general. In his writings, Urwick was wont to classify Mary Parker Follett and Henri Fayol, as adherents of “scientific management”. Noting Urwick’s very inclusive definition of the term, Parker and Ritson (2011) highlight this (mis)classification as leading to confusion and misunderstanding about the particular value and relevance of Follett’s and Fayol’s respective works. This, Parker and Ritson (2011) argue, is not only an exemplar of the power of labels, but also reminds us of “the importance of reading early management writings in their original form rather than relying on secondary sources”.
The impact of another thinker who wrote about management and the social sciences over a 60-year career, Herbert Simon, is evaluated by Kerr (2011) in his exposition of Simon’s prolific contribution to contemporary management research, most famously, of course, in Administrative Behavior and (with James March) Organizations. Indeed, while Parker and Ritson (2011) had quoted from Dylan Thomas, as an allusion to Lyndall Urwick’s promotion of scientific management, namely:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at the close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
the quote might have been more appropriately referring to Simon, who, Kerr (2011) points out, continued the pursuit of both research and teaching until the end of his life, with four publications appearing after Simon’s death in 2001. Not surprising then, that Kerr’s (2011) painstaking citation analysis demonstrates the profound influence of Simon on contemporary management thinkers.
In the next article, Novicevic et al. (2011) continue the efforts by Novicevic and his various colleagues (Novicevic et al., 2002, 2006, 2008) to improve our understanding about Chester Barnard and his contribution to management thinking. Utilizing image theory, Novicevic et al. (2011) present the results of what is the first analysis of Barnard’s individual decision-making model. This is worthy of note, not only for the quality of the analysis undertaken by Novicevic and his colleagues, but also because Barnard’s model, proposed in his Notes on the Significance of Decisive Behavior, was published 35 years after his death, in the first volume of JMH (Wolf, 1995).
“Go West!” was a clarion call of the USA in the mid-nineteenth century and many heeded that call. One such expedition, the Donner Party, is a story of three families setting off from Springfield, Illinois for California, March 1846, growing to a group of 80 people by the time they had reached Wyoming in July, only to slowly disintegrate over the succeeding ten months, with half the group losing their lives in the process. While much has been written about the disaster in terms of a failure of character of the individuals involved, Patton (2011) reappraises the events through the lens of group theories and concludes that this was, rather, a social breakdown, fuelled by diversity of cultural background and social status in the absence of effective leadership. As Patton (2011) observes, this study reminds us of the fragility of temporary groups, and highlights to managers the need to consider the possibility and impact of accidents/disasters when engaging in large projects.
If Urwick’s use of “scientific management” is a salutary lesson about the power of labels and the importance of reading primary sources (Parker and Ritson, 2011) then Akoorie’s (2011) revisiting of the characteristics of medieval craft guilds and modern industrial districts and clusters confirms the value of a balanced examination of those sources. Noting that an enduring theme in the recent literature about the topic of industrial districts and industrial clusters has been that of “rediscovering” the work of the English economist, Alfred Marshall, Akoorie (2011) demonstrates that the attributes of clustering have a genealogy beginning much earlier in history, finding distinctive expression in the medieval period in the form of the guild.
Akoorie’s (2011) paper represents an entirely appropriate denouement to my work as Editor of JMH, enabling me to end with a couple of observations about the worthy endeavour of the scribe (Lamond, 2006).
My first JMH Editorial in 2004 began with the following quote from former Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane, on the occasion of his giving the Inaugural Lingiari lecture:
The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do.
It is a quote I have repeated on several occasions subsequently, to reaffirm its importance as a principle that informs the core of JMH’s raison d’être, which, to date, has included:
[…] examination or re-examination of established historical management concepts; the historical and continuing role of the behavioural sciences in the development of management practices; historical analysis of management philosophies; methodologies for dealing with historical management materials; the importance of the historical perspective in understanding contemporary management; and historical aspects of such workplace features as quality control, cultures, and occupational health and safety.
I hope that you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the JMH, “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, 2006, p. 10).
Parker’s and Ritson’s (2011) quote from Dylan Thomas, as they reflected on the long-continuing contribution of Lyndall Urwick to the field of management and his advocacy of Frederick Winslow Taylor and scientific management, has been noted previously. Let me say that I neither go gentle into that good night, nor do I rage against the dying of the light. Rather, I hope that, unlike T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men, I end my tenure as Editor of the JMH with a bang and not a whimper.
My thanks and appreciation go to all who have taken an interest in JMH over the last eight years – authors, reviewers, special issue editors, readers, and members of the Editorial Advisory Board alike. My thanks also go to the excellent publishers with whom I shared the editorial and publishing responsibilities, in order of engagement: Management Decision (MD) Executive Editor, Kate Snowden, who introduced me to the responsibilities of the editorial role; the lovely Anna Drabble (nee Torrance), who supplied the patience and tolerance as we reestablished JMH during 2006 and into 2007; then to Kim Foster and Matthew Burton, as we built together on the great foundations laid with Anna (I note with some satisfaction that both Anna and Kim have gone on to bigger and better things, as part of the wider Emerald Group Publishing family).
Over the last several years, it has been a pleasure to work with Ruth Bailey (nee Young), Sarah Roughley, Rebecca Forster and Catherine Smith. Andrea Watson Lee has been a great trouble-shooter in her capacity as knower of all things in regard to Manuscript Central. A special thanks to John Peters who, as Editor of MD, gave me the opportunity to edit the JMH section of MD, leading to the opportunity to relaunch JMH as an independent journal in 2006. Thanks and much appreciation too, to Stan Glaser – he has provided the excellent book reviews and kept me on my editorial toes in the process. Thanks again to each and all of you for the support, guidance, and friendship from which I have benefited. My best wishes for the continuing and increased success of JMH go to those who follow.
Akoorie, M.E.M. (2011), “A challenge to Marshallian orthodoxy on clustering”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Deane, W. (1996), “The inaugural Lingiari lecture”, available at: www.gg.gov.au/speeches/textonly/speeches/1996/960822.html (accessed 13 October 2005)
Kerr, G. (2011), “What Simon said: the impact of the major management works of Herbert Simon”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Lamond, D.A. (2006), “Management and its history: the worthy endeavour of the scribe”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 5–11
Novicevic, M.M., Clayton, R.W. and Williams, W.A. (2011), “Barnard’s model of decision making: a historical predecessor of image theory”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Novicevic, M.M., Hench, T. and Wren, D. (2002), “Playing by ear…in an incessant din of reason: Chester Barnard and the history of intuition in management thought”, Management Decision, Vol. 40, pp. 992–1002
Novicevic, M.M., Ghosh, K., Clement, D.M. and Robinson, R.K. (2008), “A “missing scroll” of The Functions of the Executive: Barnard on status systems in organizations”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 373–85
Novicevic, M.M., Sloan, H., Duke, A., Holmes, E. and Breland, J. (2006), “Customer relationship management: Barnard’s foundations”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 306–18
Parker, L.D. and Ritson, P. (2011), “Rage, rage against the dying of the light: Lyndall Urwick’s scientific management”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Patton, E. (2011), “When groups fall apart: the Donner Party disaster”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Tikhomirov, A.A. (2011), “‘The first case of scientific time-study that I ever saw…’ G.A. Wentworth’s impact on F.W. Taylor”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 4
Wolf, W.B. (1995), “Decision processes as analysed by Chester I. Barnard”, Journal of Management History, Vol. 1 No. 4, pp. 1–110