Chapter

British Management Since 1945: ‘Renaissance’ and Inertia, Illusions and Realities

Nick Tiratsoo

in Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199226009
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0008
British Management Since 1945: ‘Renaissance’ and Inertia, Illusions and Realities

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In recent years, it has become increasingly commonplace to argue that British management has experienced a renaissance. However, though this hypothesis no doubt appears seductive, an antidote to the soothsayers of decline, it is in reality misleading. Britain has some outstanding managers, and it may be that overall standards in some areas are improving. But the truth is that British management as a whole continues to suffer from a range of debilitating pathologies, which are much the same today as they were forty or fifty years ago. Such unfortunate continuity begs an obvious question. British management's inadequacies have never been secret. So what has prevented them from being addressed? Given that catch up and convergence have been so ubiquitous elsewhere, why not here? Material retardants, such as the feebleness of competition or the intransigence of trade unions, explain only a fraction of the problem. As this chapter shows, the key issue is why management has failed to surface as a central theme in national debate, and to understand this, it is necessary to widen the inquiry far beyond the traditional boundaries of business and economic history, and examine the role of governments, interest groups, political parties and traditions, academics, and even the dispositions of the ordinary voter.

Keywords: British management; renaissance; managers; governments; interest groups; political parties

Chapter.  7648 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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