From the Web’s Archives: “The Management Myth” (2006)

One-time management consultant Matthew Stewart advises future business leaders to study philosophy instead of getting an MBA in “The Management Myth,” a June 2006 piece in The Atlantic:

Stewart pokes fun at the origins of modern management theory, especially the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor around the turn of the last century.  Taylor, the father of “scientific management” theory, performed time-and-motion studies to determine what physical movements were required to complete work tasks and claimed that productivity expectations and employee compensation should be based on those findings.

Instead, suggests Stewart, the study and application of philosophy can help managers sort through difficult decisions at work.  He calls management theory “a sadly neglected subdiscipline of philosophy.”

The piece is not as wacky as my brief summary makes it out to be.  For many years, supporters of education in the liberal arts have pointed out that the study of disciplines such as philosophy can make for more thoughtful, insightful leaders and problem solvers.   Stewart makes a good case for that kind of intellectual grounding.

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