Abrahamson, E. (1996). Management Fashion. Academy of Management Review, 21, 1, 254-285

15598 Words Sep 3rd, 2013 63 Pages
Management Fashion Author(s): Eric Abrahamson Source: The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 254-285 Published by: Academy of Management Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/258636 . Accessed: 24/08/2013 23:34
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In another article, for instance, I adopted Blumer's (1969) argument that fashion demand is guided by managers" collective aesthetic tastes (Abrahamson, 1991).Likewise, Mintzberg (1979) observed that swings between organizational centralization and decentralization resemble the movements of women's hemlines. The popular management press is even more cynical and strident, attributing the demand for management fashions to other sociopsychological forces, such as childlike excitement (Business Week, 1986), mass conformity (Wall Street Journal, 1993),and even to something akin to manias or episodes of mass hysteria (HarvardBusiness Review, 1994).These academic and popular sociopsychological treatments of management fashion cast it as something from which management scholars should remain disengaged, lest they join the ranks of "snake-oil salesmen." I argue in this article that management fashion should not be treated as a special case of aesthetic fashion. Aesthetic and management fashions differ in two important ways, and failing to recognize these differences obscures why management scholars must not only study, but also intervene in the management-fashion-setting process. First, whereas aesthetic fashions need only appear beautiful and modern, fashionable management techniques must appear both rational (efficient means to important ends) and progressive (new as well as improved relative to older management techniques). Many management