Managerialism– An Ideology Outdated: Modern Cultural Shifts Requires Rethink of Very Concept of Management…

What is happening to the ‘concept and role of management’ in the modern-day organization? According to Gary Hamel; tomorrow’s organizational imperatives lie outside the performance envelope of today’s bureaucracy-infused management practices… Equipping organizations to tackle the future requires a management revolution– no less momentous than the one that spawned modern industry…

In the 20th Century, companies were often successful by following the precepts of hierarchical bureaucracy or ‘managerialism’, which is characterized by– professional managers, focus on profit, tell employees what to do, work performance through rules, roles, plans and reports, achieving efficiency through economies of scale… According to Steve Denning; in the last quarter of the 20th Century additional corollaries were added, for example; focus tightly on maximizing shareholder value, strategy is all about competitiveness, lowering-costs is off-shoring… then, globalization and Internet changed everything… manage th6U39ARS9

Now in the 21st Century cultural shifts change everything where customers, e.g.; have real choices, access to instant reliable information, ability to communicate with each other– anywhere, anytime, anyplace… Power in the marketplace has shifted from seller to buyer. Customers are insisting on– better, cheaper, quicker, smaller; along with more convenient, reliable, personalized services… and, in highly competitive markets, organizations must continuously innovate to stay relevant…  As a result, a veritable revolution in the very meaning of ‘management’ is under way… In fact managerialism, the very foundation of 20th Century management practice, is under attack…

Managerialism is an ideology and process that establishes the ‘manager’ as the critical player in any organization hierarchy… it promotes the idea that a tightly managed organization is essential for success, as opposed to individuals or groups… it’s the notion that management skills are not specific to any particular organization or industry, and that managers are completely transferable between any organization or industry— the manager is the critical link, independent of any organization; whether it’s a– school, hospital, manufacturing, retail… it matters not: Any well-trained manager can manager any organization, industry… However, some experts say– not true; this ideology is outdated and no longer relevant in modern-day organizations…

According to Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms; there is a distinction between organizations that are defined by ‘old power’ and ‘new power’… where ‘old power’ relies on the exclusive nature of ‘ownership’– what they ‘own, know, control– that nobody else does’… And, ‘new power’ relies on ‘sharing’– what they ‘own, know, control– that unleashes the activities of many others’… Organizations are also distinguished by their values; where ‘old values’ are driven by– managerialism, competition, professionalism… And, ‘new value’ are driven by– self-organization, collaboration, DIY spirit…

This shift away from a world defined by hierarchy, to one shaped by mass participation is– unleashing the ‘power to create’, where ‘everyone is a change-maker’…. this revolution is not happening overnight; it’s part of a long march away from last century, when ‘old power/old value’ organizations were widely regarded as very essence of all that was modern:Think— Kodak, Polaroid, Lehman, Pan Am, Enron, Sharper Image, Washington Mutual Bank, Bethlehem Steel…

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In the article Managerialism by Chris Jury writes: Managerialism is usually a derogatory term used to describe a range of theories and techniques developed and implemented in large organizations by management gurus and major business schools across the Anglo-American world, over the last 20 years… The basic concept of managerialism is that structurally all organizations are essentially the same and therefore, there is one over-arching theory of management that can be applied to all organizations.

The promotion of this theory by ‘top business schools’ has led to the development of a form of technical segregation that excludes people who are not part of this educated elite… This allowed for the emergence of a new type of career manager whose knowledge is not specific to any industry or activity; but who can, theoretically, move between unrelated organizations, industries…

The logic behind these ‘managerialists’ is that all organizations are essentially the same, and it’s their efficient manipulation of the common underlying structures that leads to success of the organization… this makes managers critical to the organization, rather than the people who actually deliver the services… This logic inevitably leads to diminution in status of specific skills of particular professions or industries, and often leads managers to perceive all non-management staff as interchangeable production staff; as human resources to be exploited by the organization (private or public), making no distinction between ‘professional practitioners’ and other forms of support or production staff…

Professional practitioners are the people who actually carry out the core activities of the organization, for example; in schools– these are teachers; in hospitals– doctors, nurses; in technology– engineers, scientists… Before dominance of managerialism, the knowledge and experience of professional practitioners was where the authority and power of an organization often resided, and indeed for many customers or users they inevitably still are, for example; if you are sick you do not want appointment with a hospital manager; but rather with a doctor who can prescribe best possible treatment based on their medical knowledge and experience; not a bureaucratic non-medical manager… manage managing-in-the-21st-century-31-638

In the article Managerialism by John Quiggin writes: As with most terms that end in; ‘ism’… managerialism is more often used pejoratively than favorably… The standard assumption is that management is a science on par with– physics, or biology, or at least with economics… The central doctrine of managerialism is that the differences between organizations, such as; say– university and automotive company… are less important than their similarities, and that the performance of all organizations can be optimized by the application of generic management skills and theory.

It follows that the crucial element of organizational reform is the removal of obstacles to the ‘right to manage’… Managerialists rejects the idea that there is any fundamental difference, for example; between the operations of– a hospital and a manufacturing company… In both cases, it’s claimed the optimal policy is to design an organization that respond directly to consumer demand, and to operate the organization using generic management techniques and principles…

In the article Management Revolution by Steve Denning writes: A new management concept is emerging capable of achieving; continuous innovation, transformation, disciplined execution… while delighting those for whom the work is done, and inspiring those doing the work… These are fundamentally different principles, which involve not merely the application of– new thinking, technology, realities of new social priorities… but, according to Thomas Kuhn; these represent a paradigm shift and different mental model of how the world works leading to different ways of thinking, speaking, acting… None of the principles or practices are individually new; but the implementation is new when they all work together in collaboration…

Furthermore, since many of the sacred cows of the 20th Century are dying, for example; maximizing shareholder value is now ‘a dumb idea’, or search for holy grail of ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ is now recognized as futile, or essence of strategy seen as coping with competitors is obsolete, or uni-directional value chain… hence, the very core of 20th Century management thinking is now a problem, not a solution…

In addition, the short-term gains of large-scale off-shoring of manufacturing is now recognized to have caused massive loss of competitive capacity; and the supposed distinctions between leaders and managers have collapsed… To top it off, a slew of management books suggest that the managerialist organizations represent a failure so deep and pervasive that there are hardly words to describe it, hence a veritable revolution in management is under way… manage thZBGKZJBU

Confronting managerialism offers a scathing critique of the crippling influence of many top business school and much of their management principles teachings… According to Robert R. Locke and J. C. Spender; managers who were once well-regarded as custodians of the economic engines vital to economic growth and social progress now seem closer to the rapacious ‘robber barons’ of the 1880s…

In effect, responsible management has given way to ‘managerialism’, whereby an elite caste of business people are disconnected from any ethical considerations– they call the shots and often without social concerns… All this brings into questions, not only the social ethics of the management caste, but its management efficacy– compared to systems of management that are highly employee participative and dependent– and the often failed attempts, after the facts, to ‘bolt-on’ ethics and social responsibility as mere window-dressing…

However, according to Chris Dillow; there is a grain of justification for the imposition of managerialist values, for without them you might get futile perfectionism in which nothing ever gets finished, for example; Leonardo da Vinci might have benefited from a bit of management, and pursuit of excellence can be a mask for self-indulgence or even idleness… Nevertheless, there is a tendency for proponents to push the managerialist value system too far…

According to Martin Parker; management is increasingly being seen as a problem and not a solution, it’s the beginnings of a cultural shift in the very  concept of management and the role of management in modern-day organizations–it’s a significant change… More important, it’s opening-up the possibility of exploring non-managerial alternatives to contemporary assumptions about organization… and even the radical notion that organizations can operate without– management, managers, management schools…