Sunday, August 22, 2010
The End of Management
Wall Street Journal
August 21, 2010
Business guru Peter Drucker called management "the most important innovation of the 20th century." It was well-justified praise. Techniques for running large corporations, pioneered by men like Alfred Sloan of General Motors and refined at a bevy of elite business schools, helped fuel a century of unprecedented global prosperity.
But can this great 20th century innovation survive and thrive in the 21st? Evidence suggests: Probably not. "Modern" management is nearing its existential moment.
Corporations, whose leaders portray themselves as champions of the free market, were in fact created to circumvent that market. They were an answer to the challenge of organizing thousands of people in different places and with different skills to perform large and complex tasks, like building automobiles or providing nationwide telephone service.
In the relatively simple world of 1776, when Adam Smith wrote his classic "Wealth of Nations," the enlightened self-interest of individuals contracting separately with each other was sufficient to ensure economic progress. But 100 years later, the industrial revolution made Mr. Smith's vision seem quaint. A new means of organizing people and allocating resources for more complicated tasks was needed. Hence, the managed corporation—an answer to the central problem of the industrial age.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 11:38 PM