Challenging Proposals from European Scholars
Edited by Stephanie Dameron and Thomas Durand
Chapter 5: Redesigning Business Management Education: Functional Silos versus Cross-functional Views – A Historical and Social Perspective
Bernard de Montmorillon Few business concepts have as complex an evolution, as diverse a profile and as problematic a current status as management itself – factors that in turn call for a redesign of management education. When Chester Barnard published his landmark book Functions of the Executive in 1938, he drew from his own long and rich career experience. Formerly president of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, Barnard was also a public administrator (Barabel 2002). As the book’s title indicates, he focuses on those who make business organisations function, make decisions and steer the enterprise, identified henceforth as ‘managers’ in this chapter. The business enterprise under discussion here is any form of ‘collective productive project’: a ‘project’ because enterprise, from the Old French entreprendre, literally means a bold undertaking; ‘collective’ because the organisation depends on people cooperating with one another; and ‘productive’ because it creates commercial goods or services for others. Barnard’s dual skills converge in the importance he ascribes to two conditions of a business enterprise’s survival: effectiveness and efficiency. ‘Effectiveness’ follows the classic definition: a firm’s ability to achieve stated goals. In contrast, Barnard defined organisational efficiency as the degree to which an organisation is able to satisfy the expectations or motives of its individuals (employees or members), rather than referring to production cost savings, as we do today. His approach was taken up and expanded upon 20 years later by March and Simon (1958) in their equally important book Organizations. These insights furthered understanding of the manager’s...
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