Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider the value of management history as a contributor to the development of the theory and practice of management and, to the extent that it is necessary to absorb the past in order to understand the present and inform the future, consider what happens to the knowledge base when the surviving “contributions” to the knowledge base are partial and, indeed, erroneous. Design/methodology/approach – The articles that constitute this special issue form the launching‐pad for this discussion, with the ideas presented here combined with previous research and commentaries on the issues raised. Research limitations/implications – In The Life of Reason , Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Managers looking for the “next big thing”, without being able to incorporate it effectively into their experience, and the experience of those who are long gone, are condemned to repeat not just the past, but also the mistakes of the past. Accordingly, it is also critical for management scholars to both recognise and take advantage of earlier thinking and empirical work to inform their contemporary musings and research if they are to provide meaningful frameworks for practitioners. Originality/value – Drawing on the themes presented in the articles of this special issue, the paper demonstrates the value of knowing accurately the history of management thought to scholars and practitioners alike.
Management Decision – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Management history; Management theory; Working practices
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