The discourses of contemporary 'Leadership' and 'Enterprise Theory' are, much like the wider discourse of Management Theory itself, in a state of critical transformation. The authority, validity, and appropriateness of that type of scientifically influenced or 'positivist' thinking that informed so much of the early 'Taylorist' and 'Fordist' influenced work of the so-called 'first age' (Snowden, 2005) of Management Theory has been thrown into disrepute, as have many of the premises of that more contextually aware and 'constructively' influenced work that informed the so-called 'second age'.
Undermined by both the universalising and de-contextualising tendencies of that type of thinking that defined the 'first age', and the still latent problems of the 'implementation' or 'internalisation' (Nonaka, 1995) of the insights of that thinking that defined the 'second age,' we are now in a position in which – in what is increasing being recognised as the 'third age' of Management Theory – all of the principal discourses of Management Theory from Knowledge Management, to Organisational Theory, Enterprise Theory, Innovation, and Leadership, are having to come to terms with the difficult question of how they can still deal with their various objects of analysis, whether that be the essential nature, qualities, or conditions of successful Leadership, Enterprise, or Innovation, in a relatively organized, structured, and predictable way, and yet a way that does not undermine, foreclose, or delimit the essential 'complexity', unpredictability, and 'emergent' qualities of these phenomena and the contexts in which they arise. This is a problem that has seen a pronounced emphasis in recent years on the analysis of the role that the individual 'creative', 'entrepreneurial', or 'self-actualising' subject plays in the 'narrative' construction of their own relationships to those contexts in which they exist, innovate, lead, or learn (Tsoukas, 2005).
This module will introduce students to all of the main theories that have contributed to the evolution of this discourse from the early scientifically orientated, 'positivist', and 'essentialist' theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor in The Principles of Scientific Management (1911), to Joseph Schumpeter’s work on Innovation as “creative destruction” (1934), to Gordon Allport (1921) and Kurt Lewin’s (1935) early work on 'Trait Theory' and 'Situational' theories of personality as they have been applied to Leadership, to Ralph Stacey (2001, 2003, 2010), and Henry Chesborough’s (2003, 2006, 2010) recent work on 'Organisational Complexity' and 'Open Innovation', to more recent 'Transactional', 'Transformational', and 'Organic' Theories of Leadership, to Ikujiro Nonaka’s (1995) and Hubert Dreyfus’ (1997) 'ontologically' orientated theories of Innovation, and Roger Martin (2009) and Armand Hatchuel’s (2010) recent work on the value of various 'design thinking' lead creative research methodologies to the articulation of how we can most ‘productively’ act, think, innovate, and lead, within the ever increasing 'complexity' of current business environments.
The principal objective of this archaeological analysis of the history of the evolution and development contemporary Management Theory, and particularly as it has been applied to the discourses of contemporary 'Enterprise' and 'Leadership' Theory, is to enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of not only the history of the discourse but also how the insights of these theories can be practically applied to the conceptualisation and analysis of their own projects—thus overcoming the much debated 'relevancy gap' in so much contemporary Management Theory and education.
Particular emphasis will also be placed on the 'cross-cultural' significance of this work in relation to both Gert Hoftstede (2001) and Richard E. Nisbett’s (2005) work on the differing 'dimensions' of cultural belief, value, and understanding.