Creating New Knowledge in Management: Appropriating the Field's Lost Foundations

Creating New Knowledge in Management: Appropriating the Field's Lost Foundations

Creating New Knowledge in Management: Appropriating the Field's Lost Foundations

Creating New Knowledge in Management: Appropriating the Field's Lost Foundations

Synopsis

Creating New Knowledge in Management rediscovers lost sources in the work of Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard, providing a foundation for management as a unique and coherent discipline.

This book begins by explaining that research universities, and the management field in particular, have splintered into smaller and less related parts. It then recovers a lost tradition of integrating management and the humanities, exploring ways of building on this convention to advance the unique art and science of business. By way of Follett and Barnard's work, author Ellen S. O'Connor demonstrates how the shared values, purposes, and customs of management and the humanities can be used to build an enterprise that will help to meet the challenges of business today.

Igniting approaches to management that build on humanistic traditions is the ultimate goal of this book. Therefore, the text ends with two experiments- one in the classroom and one with a business executive- that take up this call and offer a perspective on where management must go next.

Excerpt

This book is based on my forty years in higher education, and particularly my thirty years in higher business education, where I worked on integrating business and the humanities. For a long time, I conceived of my work as interdisciplinary. After more research, I realized that, in fact, the two fields had once been linked and that the rupture between them was only a few generations old. Understanding this rupture became my central focus. I took a genealogical approach (Part I), which led to the view presented in this book: for centuries, humankind has pursued knowledge for governance, including self-governance, and institutions that preserve, create, and disseminate this knowledge, for individual and collective flourishing. However, also for centuries, this idea was interwoven with ideas about and institutions associated with class, exclusivity, and continuity.

This combination fell apart in the twentieth century. Institutions organized under a new logic that valued the new per se and that linked new knowledge to new wealth and status. Reliable paths developed for individuals and organizations to exploit this synergy for themselves. In particular, science institutionalized in the research university as “basic science” in the disciplines and “applied science” in the professional schools. Together, they created far more value than either could do alone. The academy, the professions, and industry thus developed and thrived as a whole. The United States became a leader in all three domains and in the overarching idea of opportunity—what Mary Parker Follett called “dynamic society” and the chance for individuals to grow it and grow themselves in it. Both she and Chester I. Barnard envisioned a new knowledge field that would understand and master this mutually creative process.

At the same time, then, the possibility of a science of and for society emerged. But this science was not easy to distinguish from the old knowledge for governance. Also, the logic of separation and specialization . . .

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