Do we need to re-write all management literature?

I have lately been reading a book about the Renaissance period and how the rulers of Firenze managed to navigate in the political landscape about 500 years ago. It struck me that the management discipline 500 years ago compared to now have not changed much. It is the same concepts and drivers with just new names attached. Modern banking industries saw the light in this time, and management concepts like MBO, BSC, Blue Ocean strategies were practiced. It just did not have the modern names attached.

To position their banks and to prevent war they married their son with the daughter of the “enemy” and made peace. Isn’t this just another way of looking at mergers and acquisitions today?

What I noticed in the book was that they were cleverer to include the “devil factor” in their management philosophy. They managed their businesses/ kingdoms under the fact that all men have a good and a bad side (good and evil). Today’s management literature is written with the view that “people are good and want to do the right things”. But this is not true. So why are the modern management philosophies not factoring in the evilness in people?

We read chapters and books about “strategy alignment”. But when did you last read a chapter about “how to avoid people sabotage your BSC”? or “what to do when employees are refusing to implement strategy”? Management literature takes it for granted that employees get aligned and want to implement strategy. But this is not the fact.

I think that most management philosophies are handing over these questions to the psychologists and let them handle this. But if “evilness” is a part of human nature I think we should also include writings on how to overcome the “dark side of people” in management literature.


Tor Inge Vasshus

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