A management fad is a philosophy of management or set of principles for management that is current and has a sweeping embrace across business and institutions. A management fad is usually modern, and has experienced some type of success in a domain and is immediately transferred over to the business model. The management fad is not always a joke or something superficial. It has its roots in philosophy and has grounding in something that has resonated with a reasonable level of success. For example, a management fad was Total Quality Management (TQM). This used to be the philosophy of management in Japan. In the mid to late 1980s, when it was apparent that Japanese automobiles were providing intense competition, and eventual supplanting, of American made automobiles, the management fad was to examine what the Japanese were doing and see if it could be implemented in the United States. TQM was the result, and it didn't merely apply in businesses. Even education in America became suspect to TQM trends, albeit with the pedagogical modifications. Management fads work really well when they are appropriated by people who have studied them and believe that the conditions for success can be replicated with the adoption of the philosophy. Yet, for those who are cynical enough to seek a "new way" in order to advance their own standings, management fads can lose credibility quite often, quite quickly. Another challenge in management fad is the notion of the word, "fad," which implies something transitory and of the moment. I think a management fad cannot be implemented in a "Fad- like" manner. That is to say that a management fad is a philosophy or set of principles that must be firmly embedded and established in order to be effective. This takes time, and is not something that can be celebrated upon its arrival, and then two weeks later be discarded. If a management fad is to be effective, it must be carefully matched to the circumstances and its situation in order to reap benefits and must have an institutional commitment to make it work. Despite its name, such a description is far from a fad.
A management fad is used to characterize a change in philosophy or operations that sweeps through businesses and institution. Some fads may become established aspects of business, sustaining themselves over several years. Others may disappear when initial enthusiasm wanes.
The appraisal that a management theory or practice is a "management fad" is subjective and it may be used positively or negatively. Several authors have argued new management ideas should be subject to greater critical analysis and for the need for greater conceptual awareness in managers