Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas

Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas

Adaptation and Context

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

Over time management ideas and panaceas have been presented alternately as quick fix cures for all corporate ills and the emperor’s new clothes, beset by flaws and problems. This Handbook provides a different approach, suggesting that management ideas and panaceas should not be either adopted or rejected outright, but gives guidance in the art of assessing and applying management ideas and panaceas to various situations and contexts.

Chapter 9: The art of constructive criticism

Östen Ohlsson and Björn Rombach

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour, organisation studies, strategic management


Modern times offer numerous opportunities for being critical – but possibly olden times offered even more. It seems natural, for example, to be opposed to things that are outmoded; we are definitely against ale posset, nail barrels and crinolines. Luckily these things are no longer in use. Perhaps in some (pitiful) home somewhere ale posset is still served for dinner, but crinolines belong to bygone days, and nail barrels are now so definitively out of use that we are uncertain they ever actually existed. In The Ballad of Little Karin – at some point in the Middle Ages – a nail barrel was an instrument of torture. It consisted of a barrel that had sharp nails pointing inward. The victim was placed in the barrel, which was then rolled down a slope. At least that is how it appears in The Ballad of Little Karin (Creutz 2014). The fact that a number of things that have disappeared seem to be easy to be against may be due to two things. Something new that replaces something old is quite simply better. The fact that we so easily and without any problem can be against the old and outmoded is because it was barbaric and nasty. Progress is thus one explanation. Another explanation is that progress is an illusion. The fact that old things seem worse than new things is a narrative created by those in power in order to legitimize their social order.

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