Some years back, an attack on managment theory was published under the name of Fad Surfing in the Boardroom, by Eileen Shapiro. The book’s main idea was that management consultants ran a racket in which they got gullible corporate executives to regularly shake up their organizations by pursuing one buzzword-laden management fad after another — often to little avail.
Now comes The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World by former Fortune managing editor Walter Kiechel III. This book’s attitude toward consultants’ theories is diametrically different. The Lords of Strategy is largely an intellectual history of management thinking, not so different in character from such U.S. history books as Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club or Louis Hartz’s The Liberal Tradition in America. Kiechel isn’t always worshipful of the consultants’ ideas, but he does offer a framework in which one year’s analysis seems to stand on the shoulders of a previous season’s ideas. In other words, the strategic theories are viewed as far from a bunch of scattered and superficial fads.
I learned a lot from Kiechel’s well-written, thoughtful volume. But overall, it didn’t leave me feeling particularly good about “corporate strategy,” which the author sometimes terms “Greater Taylorism.” Scientific management tends to treat employees as a means rather than an end — as easily replaced cogs in the works. We’re all easily replaced, as our current 10% unemployment rate attests. For my complete review go to: http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/media/books-dailyfinance-management-theory-to-the-rescue-in-the-lords/19438359/