British interwar management has been criticised as overly conservative, comprising a small core of progressive firms amongst conservatively-run, family-dominated businesses. According to this critique, British firms displayed little interest in new managerial approaches, unlike US firms of the period. Our research into the Rowntree lectures and the British interwar management movement challenges this view. We argue that there was a nucleus of progressive British firms engaged in management learning through organized peer-to-peer communication, facilitated by lectures and Management Research Groups (MRGs) initiated by Seebohm Rowntree; fostering communities of practice designed to share management knowledge and experience. We suggest that British managers displayed greater openness to innovation and a willingness to confront shared problems than is recognised. We offer a provisional reinterpretation of British management practice that repositions business education relative to extant historiography; thereby contributing to a better-informed understanding of the evolution of British management learning in the interwar years.
|Title of host publication||Elgar Handbook of Research on Organizational History|
|Place of Publication||Cheltenham, UK|
|Publisher||Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd|
|Number of pages||21|
|ISBN (Electronic)||978 1 78811 849 1|
|ISBN (Print)||978 1 78811 848 4|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2020|
Maclean, M., Shaw, G., & Booth, A. (2020). Seebohm Rowntree and the British interwar management movement. In K. Bruce (Ed.), Elgar Handbook of Research on Organizational History (pp. 101-121). Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.