Deconstructing the re-invention of operations management

Wilson, J. M. (2018) Deconstructing the re-invention of operations management. Journal of Management History, 24(2), pp. 128-155. (doi: 10.1108/JMH-06-2017-0028)

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Purpose: The purpose is to provide an intellectual history of Operations Management, particularly noting recent developments and its underlying continuity with earlier systems and thinking. Operations Management as a discipline identifies its “modern” incarnation as dating from the 1960s when it became more rigorous and managerially focused. This re-invention constructed a “narrative” that the profession still follows, yet a critical perspective reveals significant, though under-appreciated continuity with earlier theory and practice. Design/methodology/approach: This paper presents a comprehensive literature review and comparative analysis of historic developments in management and academia. Findings: In the early 1900s, F. W. Taylor’s Shop Management established Operation Management, but its main component, Scientific Management, had stagnated by the 1950s. At that point, the rise of Management Science both reinvigorated Operations Management and threatened it with a competing new discipline. To compete Operations Management then modernized by redefining itself, reasserting its interest in several areas and co-opting Operational Research tools for those. It also contracted, withdrawing from areas considered vocational, or more suited to Industrial Engineering. Research limitations/implications: This historical overview shows the critical importance of drawing research agenda from practical managerial concerns. Practical implications: Practitioners benefit from the intellectual rigor that academics provide and a historical perspective shows that the relationship has been mutually beneficial. Social implications: The disciplines of Operations Management, Operations Research and Industrial Engineering are complementary and competitive in addressing many problems that transcend their boundaries, and use common ideas and techniques. The demands of “academic rigor” have had a deleterious effect on the practical managerial relevance of these disciplines. Originality/value: A long-term, cross-disciplinary perspective provides a unique understanding of the research interests and practical orientations of these disciplines.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:History and philosophy of science, general business, management and accounting
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wilson, Dr James
Authors: Wilson, J. M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Journal of Management History
ISSN (Online):1758-7751
Published Online:09 April 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Journal of Management History 24(2): 128-155
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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