Author: Matthew Stewart
Preparing Managers to Manage
The time has come to recognize that higher education in management rests on a fatal fallacy. The idea behind the contemporary business school is that preparing future business managers means training them in a discipline called Business Management. After 100 years of fruitless attempts to produce such a discipline, it should be clear that it does not exist. Preparing managers to manage, in fact, is not different from preparing people to live in a civilized world. Managers do not need to be trained; they need to be educated. And for that purpose, although a certain amount of study of business-related subjects may prove useful, the business schools as they are presently constituted are at best superfluous.
“Customer satisfaction” is a good way to sell shoes; but it is a bad way to relieve ignorance. It is fundamentally stupid to base the content of an education on what the as-yet uneducated person decides is best.
A Work Ethic Gone Mad
The blend of corporate mysticism and transcendental consumerism he [Tom Peters] offers has its roots planted in the pragmatic, optimistic, can-do American work ethic. But, like the Taylorist philosophy from which it springs, it is also a work ethic gone mad. It begins with the idea that work can be meaningful and stretches it to the point where there is no meaning outside work. It becomes a deluded form of optimism, a feverish activity that masks an underlying anxiety about the meaning of life, a form of self-alienation so complete that the self disappears entirely into its consumer preferences and transactions.