The management rush: a history of management in Australia
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:35 authored by Malcolm Edward Pearse
Management plays a prominent role in contemporary Australia. Yet historical accounts of managers and management practice in Australia have tended to portray their development as a progression of American technologies during the twentieth century. -- This dissertation constructs a history of management in Australia from 1788 to 2010. It articulates how the role of the manager and management practice developed through institutions such as companies, businesses, branch structures, industrial relations, management consulting, training, education and discourse, referring to local, British and American influences. -- The dissertation pursues three theses: The slow rise of the salaried manager preceded widespread acceptance of management as a discipline; A management rush occurred during the 1980s; and Management subsequently dominated business, politics and the public domain. -- The rise of the salaried manager was principally tied to the rise of the public company but was also propelled by the manager's presence in Australia's strategically important industries and small businesses. The directing manager grew prominent as business organisations became larger, more bureaucratic and complex, and the power of the rich owners waned. By 1970 career managers occupied the chair and other seats in the boardroom as a result of managerial skills, rather than share ownership. -- During the 1980s the number of managers increased markedly. The management education industry flourished as the number of MBA providers and enrolments increased. The management consulting industry grew dramatically because of economic changes such as deregulation and advances in information technology. Management consultants played a significant role in re-structuring businesses and promoting management discourse. The number of new management periodicals quickly increased and several Australian management journals and monographs were published. The management rush transformed business and disseminated management discourse throughout the workplace. -- Management dominated business, government and the political agenda from 1990 to 2010. Economic management became the principal element in government policies, even the central issue for political campaigns. The number of managers continued to rise and the workforce was awash with managers bearing manifold titles and functions. Business schools enjoyed continued growth and the management education industry expanded and was re-shaped by mergers and re-structures. Management consultancies continued to prosper and remained instrumental in promoting management discourse and were joined by management education which similarly enjoyed strong international networks. Management discourse spread beyond business to pervade public discourse. -- The dissertation concludes by addressing the role of British, American and local influences, explaining why Australia's management revolution occurred during the 1980s and promoting a new view of management history in Australia.