Greed and Professionalism

October 21, 2007

I have been carrying around a newspaper clipping from Simon Caulking in the Observer at the start of the month. He is reviewing From Higher Aims to Hired Hands by Khurana. I have the book on order, and will blog after I have read it but there are some key points that deserve and early airing. The question of management as a profession has been around and unresolved for some time; it comes up from time to time in Knowledge Management but I think that is a lost cause (not as a valued practice, but as a recognised profession). I am more or less summarising other peoples’ words hereafter.

The argument is that management schools failed to create a “grand narrative” of management as a profession with a claim to moral leadership. In consequence they were bounced into a narrower role: creating technocratic managers and super charging the careers of their graduates.

In effect this a reversal of the professional project, and the scandals of the past few years are the “bitter fruits” of business chool developments in the Seventies and Eighties.

In a really nice twist, the argument proceeds to state that if management is a means to amass wealth then it is not a profession and it gets in the way of the efficient functioning of markets. However the system is now perverted and it is not possible for the business schools to even ask, let along answer the questions that are being asked of them.

Now remember this comes from a Harvard Professor but the review reminds me of the deep levels of concern over city salaries, the general justification of greed without social or moral responsibility. There is a project here and we own Khurana a debt for raising the issue. I am looking forward to the read.

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