Understanding Management: The Social Science Foundations

ISBN : 9780198716921

Paul Willman
336 Pages
174 x 234 mm
Pub date
Aug 2014
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Management is a fragmented and interdisciplinary area of study, with a lot of academic branches. Willman argues this tree is narrower at its roots, and these roots lie primarily in social science. Key to the purpose of the book is to present management theory as applied social science. Developed out of a core management course at Master's level, this book introduces the field to students who may have little prior knowledge of management. Willman interprets 'management' broadly to embrace the sub-disciplines of strategy, finance, accounting, marketing, organisational behaviour and operations management. The text aims to show how they arose and how they relate, thus engaging the reader in a little history. The book is integrative, in that it seeks to find common concerns in disparate literatures. It is also critical in that it seeks to comparatively evaluate contributions to the management field both in terms of theoretical contribution and practical impact. It is intended to be accessible to a range of readers, presenting technical materials in an informal way. Finally, it is introductory in that it assumes no previous knowledge of the academic management field.


1. The Management Field
Theme A: Accounting for Capitalism
2. The Firm
Theme B: The Agency Problem
3. Workers of the World
Theme C: A Short History of Collective Action
4. The Search for Consummate Co-operation
Theme D: A Short history of Bounded Rationality
5. The Structuring of Organisations
Theme E: Measuring Performance
scorecards and league tables
6. Strategy as Competition and Cooperation
Theme F: A Short history of the M form
7. Strategy as Organisational Theory
Theme G: Managing Markets from Hierarchies
8. The Strange Rise of Finance
Theme H: The Modern Corporation
9. The Anthropology of Management?
Theme I: Performativity
Does Life Imitate Art?
10. In Search of a Better Past.

About the author: 

Paul Willman is a Professor of Management at LSE. He was head of the Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group from 2008-11. He designed and launched the two year Masters' in Management degree, and launched a modular Executive version (Global MiM) in 2013. He was Professorial Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford and the inaugural Ernest Butten Professor of Management Studies in the Said Business School, Oxford University, 2000-2006. He was Director of Executive Education at Oxford 2001-3 and founding Director of the Oxford EMBA. He was Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Industrial Relations at London Business School from 1991-2000, Director of the Sloan Msc Programme, 1989-92 and Head of the Organisational Behaviour Group 1998-2000.

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