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The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 11. September 2009

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"At last, a book that knocks the Kings of Consulting off their thrones. The Management Myth is a rare and often very humorous expose on the shenanigans behind the corporate empire that has catapulted us down the current road to economic turmoil." -- John Perkins, best-selling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Matthew Stewart is the author of Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World and The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.


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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The book is an alternating mix of an analysis of management science and a personal story in the consulting business. The analysis shows (or tries to show) that the publications of several management gurus do not stand up to scientific standards and that some of their results and recommendations are simply made up. Yet, when this book shows how easily you can make up something in print, you wonder whether this book, too, is just made up. If it is, it is nevertheless very clever and entertaining.

The personal story makes reading much easier and the mixture of fact and fiction is well balanced. the author avoids all the simplifications and repetitions of many other books in this area. Instead, everything is presented with a sceptical mind set and a good dose of humor.

Highly recommended.
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Don't be fooled by the trashy silvery shine and the goony antique-thinker-statue-wears-red-tie-"joke": That‘s definitely a book worth reading! Entertaining (once even made laugh out loud in the subway) yet insightful. And a quick and easy read for all, who are sceptical about quick and easy solutions in business and society.
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Matthew Stewart provides a wonderfully readable history of management consulting and, in the process, destroys many of the myths surrounding the legends and tools of managment consulting. After reading this, you will never look at a BCG cash cows chart the same way again.

This book is highly recommended
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f4ce360) von 5 Sternen 48 Rezensionen
83 von 86 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9f14e204) von 5 Sternen An expose of the fallacies of management thinking 14. August 2009
Von Stephen C. Long - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Matthew Stewart takes on three major tasks in this book. He writes an expose of the management consulting industry; an historical account of the development of modern management; and an expose of the fallacious methodology of modern management. All three of these tasks are interspersed with an interesting account of his own personal experience in management consulting.

Stewart came to the management consulting industry straight out of college. Interestingly, his academic work was in philosophy and not management. Needing money, he submitted a resume to a management consulting firm and much to his surprise was hired. As an "outsider", and particularly as a result of his philosophy education, Stewart brings unique insight to this field.

My own undergraduate work was a BBA and in the thirty-some years since then I have kept up with developments in management during the course of a law practice that often involved advising businesses. This book challenges everything I thought I had learned about management.

The book is structured around Stewart's own foray into the management consulting industry. He discloses the way the industry works, the outrageous fees that are charged, and the worthlessness of the advice. I have no experience that would qualify me to evaluate those claims.

The entire "science" of management, according to Stewart, is truly only pseudoscience. Beginning with Frederick Taylor and Elton Mayo and progressing through Peter Drucker and Tom Peters, Stewart reveals in great detail the methodological fallacies of management theory and its shaky foundation in pseudoscience.

Stewart maintains that "management" belongs more properly in the humanities and in particular to the study of philosophy. "Management theorists lack depth," he writes, "because they have been doing for only a century what philosophers and creative thinkers have been doing for millennia."

The danger of modern management, Stewart contends, is that it offers pretended technological solutions to what are basically moral and political problems. When this happens, "it conjures an illusion ... about the nature and value of management expertise" and makes it harder to check the abuses of corporate power. "Above all," he writes, "it contributes to a misunderstanding about the sources of our prosperity, leading us to neglect the social, moral and political infrastructure on which our well-being depends."

Considering the economic scandal and crisis into which modern managers have led this country, his thesis deserves careful consideration. I will be watching for rejoinders to Stewart's thesis by others in the management field.

The book was enjoyable and entertaining to read. I will be pondering its thesis for a long time to come.

I believe the book would have been more useful if, as a conclusion, Stewart had provided more insight into the best way to learn to practice good management. However, he does make suggestions regarding business education.
45 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9ec8263c) von 5 Sternen Don't let your MBA students read this book ... 12. November 2009
Von Dr. James J. Stewart - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
... because if they read it, they may quit your program.

As a university professor guiding MBA and Doctor of Management courses, I encourage only my more capable and thoughtful students to read "The Management Myth." Why?

It is because in this book, Matthew Stewart correctly points out and supports that management is not a science and is too often pursued as a fad. Using many examples, he convinces that a good person educated in almost any subject can be a successful manager in business. Plainly said, Bill Gates, a college dropout, is not an aberration.

What is needed to be a manager, Stewart says astutely, is critical thinking and a propensity to ethical behavior -- not some knowledge of whatever methods are in current vogue at business schools.

If you want to know more of how to achieve success in business and other organizations, and you can accept innovative thinking, read "The Management Myth."
95 von 120 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9ed81ba0) von 5 Sternen More of the Con 6. September 2009
Von D. Touey - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Save yourself 25 bucks and find Stewart's original article debunking management theory. It was published in 2006--Atlantic, I think--and is online. He gives it away in the opening of the book in the 80-20 rule applied to books like this. No doubt we need critics like Stewart, but the extended tale of his litigation with his firm and not-so-valiant quest to get every penny he could, then his gloat over every penny he got, suggests that he's just another opportunist. For years Stewart by his own admission ripped off his clients by providing them with a "service" they didn't need. He seems to take pride in his own lack of principle--that he knew he was simply a parasite while other, perhaps younger, colleagues actually believed they were doing some good. (If you actually get to the later chapters, you'll see that he quits the consulting life not because of any anguish over being a con man but because he realizes the lifestyle has given him a paunch!) I've looked at Stewart's history of philosophy, so I know he has read Plato, but I don't think he took anything Socrates said to heart. He lived the life of the sophist, gutting the treasuries of as many companies as he could, cashed out, became a philosopher and critic of the profession that made him wealthy. I'm sure there's some more technical term for this within moral philosophy, but amongst hoi polloi it's called "having your cake and eating it too."
70 von 89 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9f16c864) von 5 Sternen Minus Two Stars for Insincerity 14. Oktober 2009
Von Bryan Long - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
If you love to hate management consultants and newly-minted MBAs, you might enjoy this book. If, however, you are hoping for useful analysis from this philosophy student turned management consultant, you will likely be very disappointed. Stewart consistently overgeneralizes using just enough truth and selected examples to seduce, in a tone that suggests "you and I can see how empty these so-called experts are." His scornful critique of "management science" is interleaved with a "kiss and tell" insider's story of his years as a "good guy" within a corrupt, venal management consulting firm. The firm collapsed soon after forcing Stewart out, but fortunately for him not before he could extract by lawsuit some millions of their ill-gotten gains.

Now, full disclosure: I do have a management degree from one of those prestigious business schools Stewart excoriates, and I was one of those corporate executives that he takes shots at. I'm far from a rah-rah supporter of MBAs and unfettered capitalism, however, and I agree with the starting points of Stewart's criticisms: management is not a science; you can't run a business from a strategic model; management consultants often know less than the people they are advising; and MBAs sometimes overestimate the value of their degree. I do not agree with his conclusion, however, that "business schools as they are presently constituted are at best superfluous", or that there is no value in strategic analysis.

Stewart's chapters on the history of "management science" are both educational and misleading. While you will learn and laugh with Stewart about how unscientific and even fraudulant the pioneers of "scientific management" sometimes were, you will also be led to believe that modern business schools still uncritically teach those ideas. You will learn something about how business strategy became "a modern, professional discipline, bound up in lengthy textbooks, purveyed by consultants, and practiced within elite departments of large corporations," but Stewart would have you believe that business school graduates revere these textbooks as gospel revelations of timeless truth, and that naïve CEOs receive them as such, rather than as the contextually and temporally-bounded conceptual tools they are.

Good management, Stewart contends, is a personal art that can't be learned in school. In other words, reading Michael Porter at Harvard isn't sufficient to make a great executive, any more than reading Sun Tzu at West Point is sufficient to make a great officer. Well, duh! Stewart concedes that training in subjects like accounting, corporate finance, and marketing can be useful, but that such training is no substitute for a broad education and real-world experience. Wow! What an insight! Perhaps the business schools should consider prior education and work experience in their admission policies!

The intellectual content of an MBA, according to Stewart, could be communicated in a "three-week mini-MBA" within a liberal arts college, "to hone spreadsheet skills, review basic financial analysis techniques, and master some of the business jargon." Furthermore, he suggests, this would be preferable to the corrosive effect of business school on the moral fiber of students. Stewart references a Business Week story about a "recent" Aspen Institute study by telling us that upon entering business school students "cherished noble ambitions" to serve customers and "otherwise contribute to the progress of human kind," but by the time of graduation they "were convinced that the only thing that matters is increasing shareholder value." In fact, the referenced 2001 Aspen Institute survey asked students to choose three of nine "primary responsibilities" of a company. Upon entering business school, 75% of students included "serve customers", 68% included "increase shareholder value," and 50% included "invest in employee growth and well-being." On exiting business school, "shareholder value" had increased share to 75%, but "serve customers" had also increased to 72% and "employee well being" stayed the same. "Produce useful products and services" lost share while social responsibility and legal compliance gained share. The 2001 survey was a single point in a time-series study; subsequent re-runs of the same survey by the Aspen Institute showed an even greater shift towards the social responsibilities. The shifting perceptions of business school students is interesting and bears discussion, but does not justify Stewart's statements. Stewart's mis-representation of this research is representative of his cavalier attitude towards research in general -- it's so much easier just to wing it.

A business school education is just two school years out of a lifetime, and strategy models are just concepts that can sometimes help a manager think about things. I enjoyed learning these concepts, but they were just a small part of my two year business graduate degree at MIT. I never hired a management consultant, and never confused a model with the real world, but I did find some of those conceptual tools useful during my business career. Stewart vastly overstates the gulf between science and art: it is true that management is more art than science, but scientists still struggle to apply theories into a complex, evolving world, and even artists can find value in concrete methods and conceptual models. Puffery can be found in every academic institution and in every business setting, but that doesn't mean schools have no value or that all management consultants are con-men.

Stewart saves special scorn for evangelical "gurus" who write best-selling "business excellence" books based on platitudes and overgeneralizations. The joke is on the reader who doesn't realize that Stewart is mirroring their techniques to write this anti-business, anti-intellectual rant, targeted at the same frustrated middle managers! Stewart is laughing all the way to the bank.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9ef89f48) von 5 Sternen Forget the MBA? 21. Oktober 2009
Von Jay C. Smith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The Management Myth: Why the "Experts" Keep Getting it Wrong
Matthew Stewart has found his strategic niche. He can bill himself either as a former management consultant who writes about philosophy or as a philosopher who writes about management. Like a true consultant he adapts to meet his client's (reader's) needs. The audience for his current production, The Management Myth, is likely to be somewhat different from that for his last volume, an appealing interpretation of the reaction of Leibniz to Spinoza (The Courtier and the Heretic, 2006).

In The Management Myth Stewart argues that management is not a science, and might be better thought of as an extension of the humanities. He seeks to debunk several icons in the history of management thought (most notably Frederick Taylor and Elton Mayo), popular contemporary management gurus (Tom Peters, Michael Porter, and others), business education (the Harvard MBA program and the like), and the management consulting business. Mostly he succeeds, in a very entertaining and often amusing way.

The chapters alternate between those that carry the substance of Stewart's argument and autobiographical pieces that recount episodes from his consulting career (which covered about ten years). This works quite well, I believe, helping to maintain human interest throughout. Stewart is cynical about his consulting employment from the outset, as you might expect from someone with no background in business who gets the job primarily because he impressed the recruiter with his educated guess about the number of pubs in Britain. Anyone who has been a management consultant or employed consultants will likely find much that is recognizable in Stewart's experiences.

Stewart is not the first to be critical of most of the targets he selects, as a perusal of his "Selected References" and ""Bibliographical Appendix" will confirm. His strength resides in his packaging at least as much as in his originality.

Overall he is convincing in his conclusion that much of what passes for the supposedly systematic discipline of "management" consists of "nonfalsifiable tautologies, generic reminders, and pompous maxims." He takes aim at Tom Peters' mega-seller Excellence, for instance, and charges that the evidence is all anecdotal and that several of the touted companies soon ran into difficulties. Yet that did not limit the influence of the book, and in the 1990s one could find several other leading consultants advocating its "lessons," a few of which were ostensibly best epitomized by Enron.

The generally hyperbolic tone of his criticisms, however, seems not fully justified (although it enlivens the reading). Stewart himself concedes that "Most managers, consultants, and MBAs ... are good people and do good work." In spite of his mostly negative evaluations of their output, he finds at least some value in the work of several of the theorists and gurus he covers. He allows that Mayo, for example, was correct that management is all about people, even though no "science of human relations" was required to achieve the insight; instead, such wisdom "comes to us either by virtue of being alive or with the aid of an ethical education." Even platitudes can often help motivate people to do the right things, Stewart recognizes.

"A good manager is nothing more or less than a good and well-educated person," Stewart declares -- that is, the very outcome that was the aim of classical philosophy, just as he studied it at Oxford.
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