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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The twentieth century can arguably be dubbed the century of management. As management ideas spread and project notions of efficiency, neutrality, and universality, they turn into a powerful and (nearly) taken-for-granted ‘regime of truth’. But management and management ideas are not the natural habitat of humanity. Instead, they are historically inscribed and socially constructed institutions, and hence neither neutral nor de-politicized. We can better understand the contemporary dominance of management and management ideas if we follow through time their trajectory as instruments of power. Over the twentieth century, this trajectory has coevolved with the tightly connected fates of American capitalism and imperialism. This chapter identifies three main moments in this trajectory, which are explored in turn. Our capacity to dream up alternatives to management hinges upon such an historical deconstruction. What would it imply, for example, if we were to nurture—rather than manage—organizations and relationships?

Keywords: management ideas, Americanization, geo-politics, power, capitalism

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