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RecensionsBook Reviews

The Dark Side of Management: A Secret History of Management Theory, By Gerald Hanlon (2016) Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, 240 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-80190-5

  • Jeffrey Muldoon

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  • Jeffrey Muldoon
    Associate Professor School of Business, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas, USA

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The emergence of management has been a perplexing development worldwide for intellectuals, labour leaders, politicians, and the worker. No group has produced as much or generated as much hatred and fear as the manager. Marxian and Critical theorists deprecate managers; mainstream business thinkers praise them. Gerard Hanlon entered into the debate regarding the “dark side” of management and analyzes the impact that management has on the worker. Unlike other management historians, Hanlon does take the worker’s views and values seriously, citing labour and management historians alike. Likewise, Hanlon takes the agency of labour to accept, collaborate, and resist management as an important consideration in understanding the process and evolution of management. I believe that these contributions are important and noteworthy. I believe a work of management history that takes into consideration historians, such as Herbert Gutman and David Montgomery, would produce a management history of greater nuance. I also believe that there is great importance to link management to social democracy and liberalism as a hedge against capital. However, Hanlon fails at this nuance, revealing a lack of understanding of management, economics and history. Mostly, it is difficult to take any book on management history that does not have a single citation of Daniel Wren, Arthur Bedeian, or Ronald Greenwood. If those scholars are too conservative, Hanlon also fails to cite Milorad Novicevic, Albert Mills, John Hassard and Michael Rowlinson. Even though he cites the work of Chris Nyland, Hanlon misses the connection that Nyland made between Taylorism and liberalism. Furthermore, Hanlon writes an entire book on 19th and 20th century America but does not have a single reference to Richard Hofstadter, Gordon Wood, Daniel Walker Howe, Lizabeth Cohen, James Patterson, David Kennedy, Nelson Lichenstein, Steven Fraser, Alan Brinkley or James McPherson. These are not obscure historians. These admissions damage the historical interpretations of the book. I will provide some examples. There are several major problems with Hanlon’s understanding of Mayo, both factual and interpretational. I use his issues with Mayo as a fulcrum due to my own work on Hawthorne. Contra Hanlon, Mayo’s fear was not the industrial worker or even democracy, but a mass grouping driven to hatred by a demagogue promising an impossible future featuring ever more social control and hatred of the other, which could include various ethnic groups, races, classes or religious groups. Furthermore, Mayo’s chapter on the Rabble Hypothesis is a rejection of economic thought and one that would have been rejected by Hayek, Becker and Lucas, as well as other economists who stressed price as the primary method of coordination. The “Rabble Hypothesis” is not a phrase that originated with Mayo, but David Ricardo. Ricardo’s argument is that nobody cares about society other than the way it affects their own needs, something that modern economists agree with. Mayo’s purpose was very different. Likewise, “Spontaneous Cooperation” is not a phrase that just appears in his incomplete 1949 book, but it also appears in the 1945 version. Furthermore, it is borrowed from Chester Barnard, and does form parts of Mayo’s 1933 writings. Furthermore, Mayo argues that workers are irrational because they are not guided by economic incentives and some of their decisions are non-logical in orientation. Mayo was not a social scientist in the modern sense, but more of a philosopher, whose work bridged several fields. There is considerable evidence to suggest that behavioural economics, a field Mayo would have agreed with and supported, expresses merit in indicating that people are irrational. In addition, individuals view their economic gains through a social prism, a fact supported in the justice literature. Finally, contra to …