Book in Focus
Management Footsteps and Foundations"/>

30th May 2023

Book in Focus
Management Footsteps and Foundations

History, Education Management, and Management Education

By Ian Waitt

During my time in academe, I did not find Management Studies particularly reader-friendly. Indeed, there were features and components which were distinctly reader-hostile. Although some stringent criticisms of Management Studies are to be found in my three books to be published before the end of 2023, this short Guide eschews the criticism of others and their ideas in order to concentrate instead on the highlights, aspirations and approaches which distinguish this work, and that which makes it stand out as different within its field.

MFF is designed to relate to the reader. It asks questions, requests responses and provides means to assist comprehension. The Footprints consolidate an appreciation of changes over time. Such phenomena may result from conscious management, reflect interventions, or mark the ebb and flow of progress. The attempt at a task and feat never essayed before, to provide a comprehensive but inevitably selective history of management, has required the assembly and presentation of a vast amount of factual information. Kind readers of passages of drafts of the book have commented on how full of information it is. That body of knowledge is deployed to provide examples, increase awareness and provide reports from the fields of experience. The purpose is here forever three-fold. From an information base, ideas may be drawn or sparked, with results summarised, measured and reviewed. Understanding management, its nature, features and requirements also facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and requires the selective exercise of management itself.

Management and life, however, are about more than dry exercises in conceptualising. They are also about fun, entertainment, the joy of successful accomplishment and despair at abject failure. These are human experiences. Management cannot be separated from people, even with the inexorable advance of artificial intelligence. MFF shows that as soon as humanity could afford it, thinkers were produced to advise on improvements and that which best might be done. The ancients supplied such essential wisdom as the manager’s first task being to know him or herself, then to know their opportunity and, whatever it was, to do it well. If autocracy is required, then history and these pages supply many examples, from Peter the Great to Ambrose Crowley III. Doing it well, whatever it was, might not always be enough, and a choice made from the responses available would have involved a difficult balance. Of the polar extremities, some have chosen love, others fear. Management Studies itself, as a genre, appears often to like more than anything else to tell the rest of us what to do. It was thus a very simple decision to devote a concluding chapter to a digest of what, from all of management theory and advice, appears to work.

The reader therefore, if not much the wiser, will certainly be better informed. Rehearsal and examination of issues of and in the past will always assist present comprehension. History has the immense benefit of hindsight, offering the full evidence from which balanced judgment might be made. It further shows the positions from which we have come, including how and why they were reached. Only by understanding the past can sense be made of the present, and determination of any value made as to how we might proceed next. Because Management Studies, while not an invention of the USA but rather a vehicle to which it quickly hitched its star and rode, for a while, with full vigour; there is a continuing obsession with the new. Pursuit of the new, the next opportunity, the latest frontier is indeed an American characteristic. Admirable though such a trait can be, and praiseworthy for the many benefits conferred, not only can we have too much of a good thing but, as the ancient eastern approaches teach, natural balance and restraint are essential to sound management. Here is a further MFF benefit. Different philosophical and conceptual processes occur throughout the text.

In pursuit of its own novelties with which to interest and engage the reader, MFF has added to the Footprints device such further illumination sources as full colour illustration, timelines, case studies and the sub rosa technique whereby indication is made of items underlying the plain text. This addition of the intangible, the openly quoting of that once viewed as covert, gives a further dimension to the understanding of management and its many competencies. That wise challenger of much Management Studies orthodoxy, Professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University, Montreal, asks the continuing question of what is it that managers actually do? Their many tasks, perhaps simultaneous and competing, require such a vast composition of competencies that there is little time for reflective action during a routinely busy day. One of the benefits of the information and perspectives rich MFF is that there is wealth of material quickly to refer, and at leisure to take time to reflect and consider. All managers would benefit from a reading of the Hope case study; my generous Foreword contributor suggests Chapter 16 as required reading. If the key dimensions of management are doing it, being subject to it and considering what it ought, might and should be, then MFF offers all the ingredients towards providing the necessary means to achievement.

Dr Ian Waitt is a businessman with over three decades’ experience. During 17 years in education, he taught at school, degree and postgraduate levels. As an international consultant and in business, he has worked across the globe, and his management experience embraces the private, public and voluntary sectors. His business portfolio includes import-export trade, conference and event devising and organising, education management and politico-economic consultancy. He is the writer of a major business biography and the award-winning editor and main author of College Administration, described by The Guardian in 1980 as “the college bible”.

Management Footsteps and Foundations: History, Education Manegement, and Management Education is available now in hardback at a 25% discount. Enter code PROMO25 to redeem.

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