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Is management a profession? Should it be? Can it be? This major work of social and intellectual history reveals how such questions have driven business education and shaped American management and society for more than a century. The book is also a call for reform. Rakesh Khurana shows that university-based business schools were founded to train a professional class of managers in the mold of doctors and lawyers but have effectively retreated from that goal, leaving a gaping moral hole at the center of business education and perhaps in management itself. Khurana begins in the late nineteenth century, when members of an emerging managerial elite, seeking social status to match the wealth and power they had accrued, began working with major universities to establish graduate business education programs paralleling those for medicine and law. Constituting business as a profession, however, required codifying the knowledge relevant for practitioners and developing enforceable standards of conduct. Khurana, drawing on a rich set of archival material from business schools, foundations, and academic associations, traces how business educators confronted these challenges with varying strategies during the Progressive era and the Depression, the postwar boom years, and recent decades of freewheeling capitalism. Today, Khurana argues, business schools have largely capitulated in the battle for professionalism and have become merely purveyors of a product, the MBA, with students treated as consumers. Professional and moral ideals that once animated and inspired business schools have been conquered by a perspective that managers are merely agents of shareholders, beholden only to the cause of share profits. According to Khurana, we should not thus be surprised at the rise of corporate malfeasance. The time has come, he concludes, to rejuvenate intellectually and morally the training of our future business leaders.
From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Professionby Rakesh Khurana
"I have been waiting for years for someone to write the definitive institutional history of U. S. management education, and this is it. From the standpoint of most analytic definitions of 'professional,'the term 'professional manager' is enigmatic, even oxymoronic. Rakesh Khurana's thorough, insightful, provocative, and courageous history of business education explains how this term came to make practical and cultural sense to a generation of Americans, and how its logic has been undermined in the past thirty years. "From Higher Aims to Hired Hands" is an exemplary work of institutional analysis, combining first-rate historiography with outstanding social-science scholarship. It will be essential reading for business historians, students of management and organizations, and faculty, administrators, and thoughtful students at America's business schools. "--Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University" "From Higher Aims to Hired Hands" is a tour de force. With profound depth and sweeping scope, Rakesh Khurana analyses the rise and potential fall of a uniquely American institution--one that has influenced management education throughout the world. His book contributes significantly to explaining how managerial capitalism could go awry and how to restore the moral underpinnings that would make management the profession of leadership. In addition to offering fascinating history lessons based on exhaustive research, Khurana adds new twists to institutional theory and points to future directions for educational practice. "--Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of "The Change Masters, Confidence," and "America the Principled: 6 Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation OnceAgain" "This panoramic portrait of the origins and ramifications of American business education is quite remarkable, rich in detail, powerful in the marshaling of evidence, and provocative in its claims. Khurana writes with confidence, authority, and erudition. "--Walter Powell, Stanford University "This is a wonderful and important book for anyone interested in business education. There is a tendency for those of us involved in business education to think that we understand the dynamics of our industry and that there is little new that we can learn. How wrong such a judgment would be. In providing a sociological understanding of the origins of business education and the professionalization of management, this book prompts deep reflection about the state of management today and offers real insight into the challenges of elevating the standards of this particular profession. "--Joel Podolny, dean of Yale School of Management
Scores of books and articles have been written in the popular press and mainstream marketplace about leadership: who leaders are, what they do, and why they matter. Yet in academia, there is a dearth of rigorous research, journal articles, or doctoral programs focused on leadership as a discipline. Why do top business schools espouse mission statements that promise to "educate the leaders of the future"- yet fail to give leadership its intellectual due?The Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice seeks to bridge this disconnect. Based on the Harvard Business School Centennial Colloquium "Leadership: Advancing an Intellectual Discipline" and edited by HBS professors Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, this volume brings together the most important scholars from fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics, and history to take stock of what we know about leadership and to set an agenda for future research.More than a means of getting ahead and gaining power, leadership must be understood as a serious professional and personal responsibility. Featuring the thinking of today's most renowned scholars, the Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice will be a catalyst for elevating leadership to a higher intellectual plane - and help shape the research agenda for the next generation of leadership scholars.
Corporate CEOs are headline news. Stock prices rise and fall at word of their hiring and firing. Business media debate their merits and defects as if individual leaders determined the health of the economy. Yet we know surprisingly little about how CEOs are selected and dismissed or about their true power. This is the first book to take us into the often secretive world of the CEO selection process. Rakesh Khurana's findings are surprising and disturbing. In recent years, he shows, corporations have increasingly sought CEOs who are above all else charismatic, whose fame and force of personality impress analysts and the business media, but whose experience and abilities are not necessarily right for companies' specific needs. The labor market for CEOs, Khurana concludes, is far less rational than we might think.Khurana's findings are based on a study of the hiring and firing of CEOs at over 850 of America's largest companies and on extensive interviews with CEOs, corporate board members, and consultants at executive search firms. Written with exceptional clarity and verve, the book explains the basic mechanics of the selection process and how hiring priorities have changed with the rise of shareholder activism. Khurana argues that the market for CEOs, which we often assume runs on cool calculation and the impersonal forces of supply and demand, is culturally determined and too frequently inefficient. Its emphasis on charisma artificially limits the number of candidates considered, giving them extraordinary leverage to demand high salaries and power. It also raises expectations and increases the chance that a CEO will be fired for failing to meet shareholders' hopes. The result is corporate instability and too little attention to long-term strategy.The book is a major contribution to our understanding of corporate culture and the nature of markets and leadership in general.
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