Management In Antiquity

Karl Moore

in Management

ISBN: 9780199846740
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:
Management In Antiquity


“Antiquity” may be defined as the period in world history ending with the fall of Rome in 476 ce. Usually a study of Antiquity or ancient history would begin with the rise of the first civilization in Sumer early in the fourth millennium bce. The study of Antiquity as it relates to the subject of management begins with the Uruk culture in Sumer around 3500 bce and then proceeds to a study of Sumer, Assyria, Babylonia, Syria, Canaan/Israel, Egypt, Anatolia. Egypt, Iran, India, and China follow, and finally the Aegean, Archaic, classical Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman polities, societies, and economies may be analyzed. “Management” in the context of Antiquity may be defined as the organization and supervision of production, and as exchange in agriculture, manufacturing, and/or services such as public administration of taxation systems or treasury. A more concise definition may be the process of “getting work done through people.” Studying management in the ancient world presents unique problems. The boundaries between public and private sectors are often highly fluid, and exchanges often took place for motives other than profit. Modern business models involving risk, productivity, and investment calculations are hard to apply. Until the 1990s the general consensus of business schools held that the study of management was relevant only since 1800. This view is challenged by Morgen Witzel, who maintains that management has been both thought about and practiced for at least five thousand years. In support of Witzel’s argument, this article maintains that management has a much more extensive history than previously thought, and such a history offers valuable lessons for current management. Ancient Phoenician, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, and Roman culture are examined. Organizing people to complete a task, essentially the task of managers, has long been a point of interest for scholars, merchants, philosophers, and rulers. The examination of several ancient societies and their management practices moves the dialogue past simply the origins of scientific management and toward a more holistic understanding of current management theory and practices. Understanding the transition from the strictly hierarchical royal businesses of the ancient Near East to the more entrepreneurial practices of the Greeks and the advent of the first firms in Rome will enable a broader and deeper understanding of the current managerial field.

Article.  6901 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management

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