Business philosophies and popular management theories

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(Redirected from Business philosophy)

A business philosophy or popular management theory is any of a range of accounting, marketing, public relations, operations, training, labor relations, executive time management, investment, and corporate governance approaches claimed (by their proponents, and sometimes only by their proponents and selected clients) to improve business performance in some measurable or otherwise provable way.

These management theories often have their own vocabulary. They are sometimes built around the business philosophy of a single guru. They rarely have the sophistication or internal consistency to qualify as a school of philosophy in the conventional sense - some resemble a cult religion. What they tend to have in common is high consulting fees to consult with the "business gurus" who have created the "philosophy". Only rarely is the capacity to teach others transmitted to any trusted students - one of the key requirements of any legitimate school of thought.

Most of these theories tend to be popular for a time (about 5 to 10 years). Then they disappear from the popular consciousness. Occasionally one has lasting value and gets incorporated into textbooks and into academic management thought. For every theory that gets incorporated into strategic management textbooks there are 100 that are forgotten. Many theories tend either to be too narrow in focus to build a complete corporate strategy on, or too general and abstract to be applicable to specific situations. The low success rate is fueled by the management talk circuit in which hundreds of selfappointed gurus sell their books and explain their "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" theories to audiences of business executives for a not-insignificant fee.

While there may be a great deal of truth in this cynical view in the short term, it should be realized too that management theories are tested in the real world. By being applied and being found to be either consistently applicable over time, or merely an "idea du jour", the relevant and valuable principles become recognized, and in this way are incorporated into academic management thought.

See also:

Finding related topics


  • Micklethwait, John; Wooldridge, Adrian. The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus. ISBN 0812929888
  • Albran, Kellogg The Profit : This is a parody of the master-devotee relationship. Albran humourously examines our relationship with "gurus" (whether business, political or religious), our tendency to be followers, and our drive to find answers outside of ourselves.

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