Management Innovators

Too often the study of business in America’s colleges is reduced to either statistical analyses or case studies where essential principles are gleaned from a brief scenario of business activities or practices. Nevertheless, anyone involved in running a business knows that there is more to being successful than one might surmise from these sterile exercises. In fact, the history of business is filled with accounts of colorful men and women who defied accepted wisdom and challenged convention on the road to fame and fortune. Business historians Daniel Wren and Ronald Greenwood are acutely aware of the importance of these mavericks and entrepreneurs; their highly readable MANAGEMENT INNOVATORS: THE PEOPLE AND IDEAS THAT HAVE SHAPED MODERN BUSINESS highlights the contributions of more than two dozen individuals whose audacity changed the course of business during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Dividing their work thematically, the authors offer brief sketches of the careers of some of the many inventors, makers, sellers, communicators, financiers, organizers, motivators, and gurus who shaped the modern business landscape. One will not be surprised to find stories about Thomas Edison, Cyrus McCormick, Richard Sears, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Alfred P. Sloan. Also included, however, are accounts of the contributions made by psychologists such as Elton Mayo, Abraham Maslow, and Frederick Herzberg; celebrated analysts such as W. E. Deming and Peter Drucker; and Japanese leaders such as Yoichi Ueno and Taiichi Ohno, whose accomplishments were based on principles adopted from American business and whose work in turn influenced United States business practices.

Although aimed principally at those studying business, MANAGEMENT INNOVATORS has what it takes to appeal to a larger audience. Notably free of the jargon which might put off all but the specialist, the book provides interesting speculation about the character of the men and women profiled by the authors. Unfortunately, the text is too short to do full justice to any one of these influential figures. On the other hand, it serves as a provocative introduction to these giants of modern business. It could well be the stimulus that will prompt inquisitive readers to seek to know more about these truly remarkable individuals.