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The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong
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The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  467 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Don’t go to business school. Study philosophy.

Fresh from Oxford with a degree in philosophy & no particular interest in business, Matthew Stewart might not have seemed a likely candidate to become a consultant. But soon he was telling veteran managers how to run their companies. Striking fear into the hearts of clients with his sharp analytical tools, Stewart lived in
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published August 10th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2009)
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Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A highly entertaining read where Matthew Stewart dismantles the Management Consulting industry. For you with experience in consulting, parts of this are hilarious as Stewart chronicles both the imploding of the consultancy he helped create, and the overall history of the industry.

One by one, he tears apart Fredrick Taylor (the father of "scientific management"), Elton Mayo (of the "famous" Hawthorn Effect), Management Consultants, Strategy (as a science), popular Management Gurus, and offers a
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dit boek is eigenlijk een lange aanklacht tegen de illusie die wordt gecreëerd dat er zoiets bestaat als een "Management"-wetenschap waarop consultancy-bedrijven & bepaalde universiteiten zich maar al te graag op beroepen.

Alle managementmodellen en -adviezen ontbreken wetenschappelijk bewijs (en dus voorspellende waarde) en zijn ofwel een veralgemening van ervaringen in het verleden ofwel gewoon gezond boerenverstand.

Het boek leest vlot door zijn interessante afwisseling van een historisch o
Chris Shemes
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it
A good but not a great book that is mildly entertaining because of Stewart's personal experiences in the consulting industry. This book hopefully will persuade some managers and C levels to think twice about paying for consulting "experts" when they could employ their own experts - if they don't already. It was educational and a good review of the theory of management. I do agree that any well educated person has the potential to be a good manager but his assessment of smashing MBAs and their ed ...more
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: business people
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed this book. The author explores the history and claims of management consulting. He exposes many of the professions most well-loved stories and gurus, including Frederick Taylor, Peter Drucker, and Tom Peters. He criticizes the pseudo-science used to "prove" the worth of management theory and the lack of real research from business schools. The arguments are fairly dense, but persuasive, and alternate with his own experiences as a management consultant, which are dishy and fun to ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's fascinating the disconnect in ratings between the book and audiobook versions. I listened to the audiobook, and unless the book itself was written differently or had a better editor, I don't understand the chasm.

I don't believe I have ever rated a book so low. But the reality is this book is an exercise in self-aggrandizement.

The author explores the idea of a "management myth" through his own N of 1 experience as a management consultant. Doing so he manages to come across as both pompous an
Ramón Nogueras Pérez
Yo siempre saco un placer especial leyendo libros donde se desvelan charadas , supersticiones y chorradas. Cuando se trata del mundo de los negocios, que es de los entornos más supersticiosos que hay, doble plus.

El autor hace una crítica argumentada y devastadora de la teoría de gestión de empresas, revelando que es una simple pseudociencia, con la implicación de que las escuelas de negocios enseñan poca cosa útil. Por otro lado, el autor demuestra que las consultoras que venden estrategia no v
Greg Linster
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Is there anything more absurd than trying to measure something that can’t be measured? In my opinion, most performance reviews are an utter waste of time because they try to measure things that can’t or shouldn’t be measured. The most important aspects of many jobs can’t be measured, but managers (usually armed with an M.B.A.) delude themselves into thinking that scientific performance reviews measure an employee’s worth. How dare a manager acknowledge that someone is doing a good job without an ...more
Leif Denti
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a management scholar who teaches this stuff I find this book to be highly refreshing. A harsh take on the management consulting industry, the philospher and ex-consultant Matthew Stewart guides us through the many myths that keep the industry going. Stewart deconstructs the modern day gurus like Michael Porter, Tom Peters and Jim Collins showing that in principle their advice is banal at best (e.g., "Gather the best team" - Jim Collins in Good To Great), nonsensical at worst (e.g., "Be a 'Lev ...more
Oct 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This book felt disjointed and confusing. I think Mr. Stewart was trying to write two separate books (one on his own consulting experience and one on the history of management theory) and combined them into one lackluster volume. I doubt I would have finished it except that I was listening to the audio version on a long road trip. I think he had some good points that were lost in the chaos.
Nick Short
A central theme in this book stems from the poignant observation that it's easiest to claim false expertise-or simply to get by without expertise-in subjects where it is difficult to define exactly what comprises expertise.

Author Matthew Stewart earned a doctorate at Oxford in philosophy and then began work as a management consultant at Mckinsey-eventually quitting to work part-time and write 'irrevant' philosophical works but then reentered his consulting world fulltime as a partner at a compet
Mario Sailer
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: management
After having read the book, I ask myself which modern business philosophy has been debunked in the book. It is more or less an overall attack on (some) management theories and it is a very poor one. There is a lot of smattering, half knowledge and one-sided presentation about the facts.

The book has a storyline that is Matthew Stewards personal experience as an management/strategy consultant. This part of the book is quite interesting, it gives some insights and it sheds some light on at least a
Dumky De wilde
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Though Stewart's story is quite interesting —how a philosophy student with no experience can become a management consultant, and what that says about the consultancy 'industry'— in the end his book would have been better of cut in half. Alternating chapters of management history with his personal story seems a bit trite and becomes a bore in the latter half of the book (I skipped over quite a few parts there). It's a shame because there's definitely more potential in the book.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Both having a PhD in Philosophy and working at the top consulting firm can make him write this book, so "Management" here really means consulting, or all types of management theories. If you are actually managing people now (but don't take my words as it is. I don't) or have read any of Taleb's books you don't need this book. Unless you're interested in extensive criticism of theorizing in management.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A look at the modern history of management and management consulting, intermixed with a memoir of the author’s consulting career. Pretty funny book that takes a deservedly harsh look at the topic. Recommended for anyone who reads management literature.
Benji Visser
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s more entertaining to watch House Of Lies :)

A nice rundown on the history of scientific management, but I found the novel-type chapters boring/irrelevant. This could have been boiled down to perhaps 100 pages.

Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I laughed out loud at least three times as Stewart alternated between an account of his consulting experience and lambasting the embarrassing history of management from its scientific management roots.

Among other major takeaways -

Strategic planning doesn't work... except to enrich consultants and CEOs at the expense of shareholders and employees.

Having an MBA isn't merely useless, it's a detriment.

John Norman
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't know who you are, but if you live in the business world, you should read this book.

I have worked with many MBAs and people who read books like In Search of Excellence, From Good to Great, Competitive Strategy . . . and take all that stuff uncritically.

And I've worked with other business people who are effective because they are, at bottom, intelligent analyzers and synthesizers of what they read and learn from others. Must of these folks are simply good people who have been well-educated
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This book also comes with the subtitle, "Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong." The author, Matthew Stewart, claims a philosophical background and uses it effectively to destroy the scientific pretensions of management gurus from Frederick W. Taylor to Tom Peters. He shows the reader the lack of any solid research behind the pronouncements of the early management experts of the twentieth century, such as Taylor and Mayo, who respectively stands for scientific management and human relations. Thi ...more
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Management Myth has been on my list since I read the rave WSJ and New Yorker reviews this past fall. It’s a brilliant history of management thought dating back to Taylor and scientific management. It is also a highly critical take-down of the management consulting industry that relies on hilarious anecdotes from the author’s career in management consulting.

My favorite quote: “What makes for a good manager? If we
Martijn Euyen
"De Managementmythe" geeft een sterk relativerende visie op management, consultancy, strategie en planning. Stewart hekelt de grote denkers en goeroes (Taylor, Mayo, Drucker, Peters, etc.) die aan het ontstaan en de ontwikkeling van het vakgebied bijdroegen. Daarbij put hij uit de literatuur die de groten op dit gebied hebben voortgebracht en de ervaring die hij opdeed in de management consultancy branche (McKinsey, Boston Consultancy Group). De belangrijkste bezwaren tegen de meeste axioma's en ...more
Alessandro Veneri
The book is, in my modest opinion, a good map of the status of management.
The chief author's aim is to repeatedly demonstrate, how management can't be attached with the "scientific" label, rather to be considered a modern branch of the philosophical thought.
"Scientific" is a tag that management couldn't earn, due to the impracticality of its "theories" - a word that is explicitly deserved by thought systems which prove themselves to be predictive, rather than descriptive. Management literature u
Joel Ungar
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Stewart skewers management thought and consulting, intermixing his own career as a consultant, in a very readable book (although I had to go use a few times for some of his adjectives).

Who does he skewer - Taylor, famous for his stop watch, Elton Mayo, who I hadn't heard of before, Drucker (not that badly), Boston Consulting Group, Tom Peters and some others. He does a particularly good job taking apart the famous 4 square grid that gave us cash cows, dogs, stars, etc. as a mechan
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everybody in the business world, finance, management, organizational leadership,
etc., should read this book.
It is a broad history of 'modern business philosophy' and a damning exposee of
the consulting world as it (apparently still) operates today.

The book helps situate theoretical approaches to business - whether economic,
managerial or whatever - within the project of modernity, with its typical reductionistic
understanding of human beings and the 'science' of their behavior.

Many of the les
Frans Saxén
Matthew Stewart's book provides a well written critique of strategy consulting, and the superstars of strategy, like Peter Drucker and others. The author, a PhD in philosophy, who all of a sudden finds himself a strategy consultant earning a high salary for telling business people with 30 years of experience how to run their businesses has plenty of insights to share with the reader. The book alternates between the recounting the author's own somewhat absurd experiences from consulting, and a ge ...more
Jun 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Very interesting, and easy to read.

The author's politics strike me as being conservative in a sense that we don't often hear these days. The book argues again and again that managers are rising as a "class" with power in our society, and the author seems to waver on whether this is a good or bad thing. What he is certain about, is that the MBA programs are broken. The conclusion seems to be that prospective managers should get arts degrees, and that universities should stop trying to become tech
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, nonfiction
The Management Myth (2009) by Matthew Stewart is an excellent piece of nonfiction that skewers much of management ‘science’ and also tells an entertaining inside story of working in high end management consulting.
Stewart has a degree from Princeton that included Physics and a PhD from Oxford and with this he is able to understand science and logically work his way through thought very systematically. In addition he writes well.
The book has a narrative like much of the best nonfiction and it al
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interleaving chapters about the history of business education and the "discipline" of business strategy with the author's own story of his time as a management consultant, this was an entertaining read that calls into question whole genres of popular business books. Built on the shaky foundations* of Frederick Taylor and expanded on by a series of professors and self-styled 'gurus' that are more interested in selectively choosing case studies that fit into their favorite frameworks than applying ...more
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written as both a personal story in management consulting and a overview of the four major pillars of management theory, the Management myth succeeds in holding the attention of the reader and transferring the necessary knowledge of theories. Or perhaps more to the point: the lack of knowledge in these theories.
After all, if everything worthwhile in an MBA can be transferred in three weeks or less, then what would MBA's have to teach actual business people about management? 'Next to nothing' (n
Matej Kurian
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bratislava, own
Interesting read that left me with important questions unanswered.

The book is basically divided in two parts - 1) author's personal story in the consulting world (Mitchell Madison Group); 2) history of management & consulting as academic disciplines.

The first theme is intriguing analysis of -- office intrigues and management that ran-away. Second, often at lengths discusses epistemic flaws of management as a scientific discipline, rather than a profession. This is "myth" Stewart sets to deb
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
The author present a humorous, or rather sarcastic view, on the management / strategy theory and the consulting business he has been working in. In alternating chapters he gives an overview of the history of management theorie, and an account of his experiences in the consulting world.

The chapters on management theory are ok. He gives an overview of the thinking in the field, starting with Taylor, over Mayo, Drucker, Porter to end with "excellent" Tom Peters, and explains why most of their work
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“The Soviet five-year planning process—surely the ultimate management challenge—took its inspiration directly from the work of one of Taylor’s most successful disciples, Henry L. Gantt.” 0 likes
“The simplest answer is that scientific management fulfilled too many hopes and prayers to be ignored merely on account of its logical and factual deficiencies.” 0 likes
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