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History of Management - MAN00031C

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  • Department: The York Management School
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Leo McCann
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module introduces students to the classical ‘canon’ of management thought as traditionally understood in Western, Anglophone contexts. It aims to develop among students a sensitivity to the importance of history in understanding what ‘management’ is and where it has come from. This classical canon is to be subjected to critique and reinterpretation, giving due consideration of other perspectives (such as feminist, critical, and decolonial). Students will gain in-depth knowledge of classic management ideas and practices, will be introduced to management history as an area of study, and will also develop their skills as independent scholars, able to critically interpret academic texts, develop arguments of their own, and reflect on their own development and practice.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify key events, theories and issues in the history of management

  • form an understanding of management history as an area of academic study

  • apply classical management ideas to contemporary organisations / organising

  • show an awareness of the historical and politically situated nature of management practice

  • critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of different perspectives on, and practices of, organising

  • critically interpret academic readings and develop persuasive arguments and reflective writing of their own

Module content

Students will be encouraged to develop reflective writing skills through engagement with ASC Workshops (

Indicative topics:

The uses of history in understanding management,

Adam Smith on the production process/labour process and links to market regulation,

Weber on Bureaucracy, power and rational organising,

Taylor on the division of labour and rewards,

Tavistock group/Hawthorne Studies on the 'human' worker,

Labour-centric perspectives (Marx, Critical Theory, labour unions),

Feminist perspectives on management and work,

Globalisation and management,

Decolonising management,

Management history as a field of study

The future of management.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Document Analysis
N/A 20
N/A 80

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Document Analysis
N/A 20
N/A 80

Module feedback

Feedback will be given in accordance with the University Policy on feedback in the Guide to Assessment as well as in line with the School policy.

Indicative reading

Bridgman, T. and Cummings, S., (2021) ‘A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Management Theory’. London: SAGE

Jenkins, K., (2003). Rethinking History. Abingdon: Routledge.

Watson, T. (2017) ‘Sociology, Work & Organisation’. Abingdon: Routledge

Pearson, G., (2016). The Rise and Fall of Management: A Brief History of Practice, Theory and Context. Abingdon: Routledge.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.