Top-down management model needs a rethink

The top-down management model taught by business schools needs an upgrade to bring it into the modern world. That’s the thinking of some of the sector’s top minds.

Business school methods of teaching management have remained largely unchanged over the past few decades. This is despite the considerable advances, particularly with regards to technology, that have taken place in the same timespan.

Industry names such as Bjarte Bogsnes and Gary Hamel have long posed the question why there is little debate on the developments taking place in management theory. Bognses is on record as saying: “The moment we move to management innovation, love is replaced by fear.”

It has been suggested that one of the reasons for this lack of new thought is a reluctance by managers to take a chance and change the way in which they work, preferring management models taught by business schools as they are perceived as best practice.

There is also the difficulty in measuring performance results derived from new management models, leaving question marks hanging over their general effectiveness.

Some organisations have grasped the nettle, however, offering their managers greater flexibility in the decision-making process, without impacting on success.

Sebastian Becker, associate professor in accounting and management control at HEC Paris, says: “We must understand what does not succeed in attracting top talent. Strict hierarchies and centralisation, fixed and negotiated targets and inflexible cost budgets.”

He goes on to say that management graduates need to be at the spearhead of making the changes as they grow into their roles, enabling companies to perform better, adopt agile methods and attract the best in talent.

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