Contemporary thinking about management is still frequently presented as a set of universal, eternal verities. In this fascinating book Roy Jacques presents a discursive history of industrial work relationships in the United States which powerfully demonstrates that they are not.
A central concern is to show that current `common-sense' in management forms an historically and culturally specific way of thinking about work and society which is often inappropriate for `managing for the twenty-first century'. The author is equally interested in revealing the cultural basis for American management ideas, currently exported round the world as an objective science, disconnected from its cultural and historical roots.
Roy Jacques considers: the Federalist world of the U S (c 1800-1870) and the traces of 19th century `pre-management' notions continuing in 20th century management and industrial discourse; the emergence and development of industrial organization and big business; the profound remapping of the boundaries of social life which occurred with the creation of jobs and wages; and the evolving construction of the employee as increasingly a disciplinary subject of psychological, personnel and general management knowledge. He also looks at several major current management and organizational topics such as: motivation, leadership and power in organizations; productivity and efficiency; work and the family; ideas about Total Quality Management, Business Process Re-engineering, `knowledge work' and so on.