While true changes in society necessitate different management styles and, by reason, changes to management theory, it is possible the inverse of your question is equally important to consider. Historically, the introduction of new management theory was not necessitated by changes in society. Many of the theories were not in...
While true changes in society necessitate different management styles and, by reason, changes to management theory, it is possible the inverse of your question is equally important to consider. Historically, the introduction of new management theory was not necessitated by changes in society. Many of the theories were not in response to changes in society, but rather a desire by organizations to implement processes that increased productivity without an increase in cost.
Frederick Taylor is credited with the basis of modern-day scientific management. His idea was to provide an incentive to increase employee productivity. Taylor's approach was not the result of a change in societal pressure. Taylor's view more closely aligns with economics than social progress. The adaptation of Taylor's principles to other fields (education or healthcare as examples) had a profound influence on the delivery of services to the public. In some ways, management theory is less reactionary and more proactive to anticipating changes in society than the society changing management practices.
The modern example serves as evidence. Societal changes tend to occur in generational cycles. Everyone recognizes the disruption of technology in how people perceive work, their relationships with others, and how everyday life is conducted. Management theory predicted years before society began to transition to technology the massive shift in economics, dislocation of industries, and the downfall of enterprises that do not think in global terms.
As evidence of the predictive nature of management theory, review some of the management books written in the seventies and eighties. Books by Tom Peters, Edward Deming, and Alvin Toffler are a few examples demonstrating how society lagged behind management theorists. Clearly, if left to society to change management theory and practice, the American economy would have remained committed to the domestic industrial base and isolated to the extent possible from global competition. This, of course, is not the case.
While the question calls for a response placing society changes ahead of management theory, I suggest management theory is at least as responsible for changes in society as society is for changes in management theory. Though a counter position to others, historical evidence supports the notion.