Adaptation and Context
Edited by Anders Örtenblad
Chapter 19: Good reading makes good action: nothing so practical as a managerial panacea?
The idea of a set of management knowledge that allows people to perform better as managers has been stimulating many scholars since the seminal piece The Function of the Executive by Chester Barnard (1938). The worldwide spread of management education institutions and knowledge in the late 1990s to the early 2000s (see Alvarez 1998) encouraged scholars to identify a set of management knowledge fitting every management context and situation (…rtenblad et al. 2012). This fit-for-all management knowledge may spread if it provides an all-healing practical remedy which makes producers, diffusers, adopters and users happy; in other words, a management panacea. So fit-for-all management knowledge may derive from the high reputation of academic knowledge producers (Engwall 1992; Amdam 1996) as well as management gurus (Huczinski 1993), from the role of diffusers of management practices like consulting firms (Kipping and Engwall 2002) and from the wide reach of the popular press (Furusten 1999; Mazza and Alvarez 2000). As …rtenblad (2013) suggests, fit-for-all management knowledge is also the typical content of management fashions (Abrahamson 1996). In this chapter, we look at the fit-for-all management panaceas from the perspective of managers who are supposed to use panaceas, therefore bringing the consumption perspective (Alvarez et al. 2005) back into the debate on management knowledge. This perspective builds on Scarbrough and Swan’s (2001, p. 9) assumption that managers ‘are not passive recipients of ideas invented elsewhere’.
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