Joan undertook the ground-breaking project originally reported in the 1958 pamphlet, Management and Technology, not at one of Britain's great universities, but at the unfashionable address of the South East Essex Technical College (then in the county of Essex but now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham). The Human Relations Research Unit had been set up at the college, which is now part of the University of East London, in 1953 with support from a number of agencies including funding ultimately derived from the Marshall Plan. Its express purpose was to enhance the performance of industry and commerce through the application of social science. Those readers familiar with the area will know that, at the time, it was economically and culturally dominated by the Ford assembly plant in nearby Dagenham, but it was also home to a diverse range of small- and medium-sized industrial workshops that were typical of the pre-war Greater London economy (Woodward, 1965; Massey & Meegan, 1982). It was into this diverse industrial milieu that Joan and her research team ventured (Fig. 1), completing their main study in 1958.
This paper aims to offer a critical biography of Joan Woodward, often considered the founder of contingency theory. This paper examines Woodward’s background to develop a more complete understanding of the factors that influenced her work.
This paper draws on insights gained from personal correspondence with two colleagues of Woodward, one who recruited her to the Imperial College where she conducted her most prominent work and one whom she recruited while at the college. In addition, Woodward’s original work, academic literature, published remembrances and a plethora of other secondary sources are reviewed.
By connecting these otherwise disparate sources of information, a more complete understanding of Woodward’s work and its context is provided. It is argued that Woodward’s education, training, brilliance, values, the relative weakness of British sociology and the need to improve the economy helped to make Woodward’s work both original and practical.
The originality of this work is to examine the work of Woodward through the lens of critical biography. Despite Woodward’s contributions, Woodward remains an underappreciated figure. The purpose is to provide her contribution against the backdrop of the British industrial and educational sphere.
Imperial College in 1969 looked like a man's world; it was certainly difficult to locate a ladies’ room which was not apparently hastily constructed in a tight space as an afterthought to a great design. Yet I joined a powerhouse of women. Joan Woodward had already tempted Dorothy Wedderburn from Cambridge and together they had secured large sums of research monies from the Research Councils, Fords, Pilkingtons, ICI, the Post Office, the Coal Board, government departments, and other supporters who were each captivated by the promise of the work and rare combination of intellectual strength and practical concerns of its leader. With research funds flowing in abundance, driving passions to explore further the relationship between structure, technology, and performance, and very few specific commitments, Joan and Dorothy set about recruiting what was to be one of the largest groups of young researchers in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s.
On April 2, 1987, IBM unveiled a series of long‐awaited new hardware and software products. The new computer line, dubbed the Personal Systems 30, 50, 60, and 80, seems destined to replace the XT and AT models that are the mainstay of the firm's current personal computer offerings. The numerous changes in hardware and software, while representing improvements on previous IBM technology, will require users purchasing additional computers to make difficult choices as to which of the two IBM architectures to adopt.
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