The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools After the Second World War

Book cover for The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change

The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools After the Second World War

By James G. March, Mie Augier
Stanford University Press, 2011

Some rather remarkable changes took place in North American business schools between 1945 and 1970, altering the character of these institutions, the possibilities for their future, and the terms of discourse about them. This period represents a minor revolution, during which business schools became more academic, more analytic, and more quantitative.

The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change considers these changes and explores their roots. It traces the origins of this quiet revolution to a diffuse community of like-mindedness forged by the depression and the Second World War, the reform of medical schools after the Flexner Report, the ideology of intellectuality championed by Robert Maynard Hutchins at the University of Chicago, and the experience of interdisciplinary collaboration at the RAND Corporation. It shows how these roots shaped discussions about management education and led to a shift in the rhetorical balance that weakened the place of business cases and experiential knowledge and strengthened support for a concept of professionalism that applied to management.

The text considers at least three core questions: Should business schools concern themselves primarily with experiential knowledge or with academic knowledge? What vision of managers and management should be reflected by business schools? Finally, how does managerial education connect its teaching to some version of reality?

Selected Editorial Reviews
U.S. business school reformers of the 1950s and '60s had high aspirations they didn't quite meet. The country, and the world, is still living with the consequences ... A new book, 'The Roots, Rituals and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools After the Second World War,' describes the revolution in business education that took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
Morgen Witzel, L.A. Times
... Roots, Rituals and Rhetoricswas the most unexpectedly illuminating book I read this year. Not everybody is as interested as I am in how our ideas about business and economics originate, and how they are absorbed, elaborated and changed. But for fans of such things, this book is nearly impossible to beat ... What’™s riveting about the book is the historical narrative by which its authors reach those conclusions. They turn it into a story, which they tell in graceful, often witty, prose ...
David Warsh, economicprincipals.com
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