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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Management and economics as the new Religion

Epiphanies (or “Eureka!” moments) are memorable – and I therefore remember some ten years ago being in the flat I had for a couple of years in central Bishkek. I was flicking through a book I had picked from my kitchen shelf - Reformation –Europe’s House Divided - and suddenly realising that the intense disputations about religious doctrine in this period were remarkably similar to contemporary economic disputes. Other people, of course, have developed this theme of the religious role taken by modern management and economics – for example Susan George in her 1994 book Faith and Credit - a tough critique of the World Bank which was the subject of a brilliant satire here
In the early 90s, a book actually bore the title Economics as Religion  – and its Introduction can be read here 

You would think that “Management” offers an easier target since it patently has less reason to claim scientific status - not that this has prevented such claims being made! Charles Handy’s Gods of Management is actually about “cultures” of management and resists the temptation to explode the pretensions of management gurus.
It is not easy to find a book on “management as religion” – although there are several classics which have a go at the management gurus and one of them (Russel Ackoff) actually (and famously) wrote A Little Book of F-Laws 
Eventually my search produced a 1997 book The Faith of the Managers - when management becomes religion 

So much damage has been done to the arbitrary drive for “Efficiency” that one would have thought the time is overdue for a savage critique of the religion of management,
There is, of course, an academic discipline called “Critical Management Studies” one of whose foremost proponents is Chris Grey whose small book about studying organisations is a clear and powerful read. But the discipline as a whole is a let-down and rarely offers good insights - "Against Management" is a good example

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