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“(We Can) Conceive of Twentieth-Century Management Theory as Being Involved in a Double Movement of Constructing Organizational Reality and Rationality While Effacing the Process of Construction Behind a Mask of Science

  • Date Submitted: 10/31/2013 03:08 AM
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“(We can) conceive of twentieth-century management theory as being involved in a double movement of constructing organizational reality and rationality while effacing the process of construction behind a mask of science and naturalness, we can see Critical Management Studies as being engaged in a project of undoing this work, of deconstructing the reality of organizational life or truthfulness of organizational knowledge by exposing its un-naturalness or irrationality.”
Delbridge and Keenoy, 2010.

Following on from the latter part of the 19th century, the turn of the 20th century ushered in a management paradigm that emphasized a rational and scientific approach to management arguably, rooted in the positivist paradigm of truth and empiricism. “Behind the mask of science and naturalness”, the positivist promoted the knowledge of management and truth based on a tradition of scientific predictability and controllability as the tenets of production efficiency to the exclusion of organizational subtleties such as the socio-economic and political concerns in addition to technology and competitiveness (Michal Zawadzki, 2012).

For a greater part of the 20th century, the main management paradigm was functional hierarchical line management as postulated by the theories of Taylor, Fayol and Weber. These theories viewed the management environment as stable and as such tended to prescribe functional, centralized decision making processes and hierarchical communication channels (Jamali, 2005).  

The raft of theories and perspectives for the greater part of this era postulated one best way of managing in organizations (influenced by a market driven mindset and financial capitalism) until the contingency movement challenged and rejected the prescriptions and assumptions therein in view of new realities that were taking place.

Heralded by the contingency movement, critical management studies...


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