Deceptive practice

June 18, 2004

Philip Sadler's accusation in his review of Managing Britannia (Books, April 30) that Robert Protherough and John Pick have done "only half their homework" is sheer cheek! How would Sadler know? Evidently, he resents their criticisms and is attempting to degrade their work with the imputation of ignorance.

My examination of management studies strongly corroborates the authors' criticisms. Although I was initially prepared to concede a case for management in a commercial-industrial if not academic context after reading various academic and non-academic texts, I have been disabused of this view. It is clear there is no "science" of management to guide and guarantee success - just commonplace views and common sense.

Management talks a self-enclosed language of jargon and buzzwords that is fascinating in itself but otherwise unilluminating. Management cannot handle fundamental paradoxes of experience, such as how to get originality or genius to work in a team, how to make committees produce original thinking, how to provide for both stability and change, and so on.

Protherough and Pick make the very valuable comment that "academically" management attracts those unable to sustain academic careers in traditional subjects such as history or mathematics. This conjunction of a non-subject with intellectual inferiority bodes ill for the academic world in general, yet business and management courses are highly popular here and in the US.

Isn't the academic world that sanctions this kind of activity practising a gross deception on the young?

Nigel Probert

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