James Hoopes is Distinguished Professor of History at Babson College. An expert on American culture and intellectual history, he is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEH Fellowship, and a senior Fulbright lectureship in England. He also received a grant from Alfred A. Sloan Foundation to support the writing of this book. The author of several books, he lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
In this critical history of American management, business historian James Hoopes offers modern managers a more realistic perspective. He reminds us that the corporations' ability to create wealth depends on managerial authority, so top-down power and its potential abuse are here to stay in corporate America.
The origins of today's misguided management practices are rooted in the influential theories of the early twentieth century gurus, who aimed to temper management's authoritarian power with democratic principles. False Prophets vividly tells the story of these colorful and flawed characters in the context of the ever-changing American political and cultural climate. It introduces us to: Frederick W. Taylor, the first management guru and the father of scientific management who ruthlessly sped up workers by timing their every motion; Mary Parker Follett, the forgotten pioneer whose ideas on "followship" remain vitally useful in corporate life; Elton Mayo, the Australian immigrant whose intellectual chicanery on the subject of human relations put the Harvard Business School on the map; W. Edwards Deming, who brought quality management to America via a detour through Japan; and Peter Drucker, who left Germany in protest of Hitler's tyranny and tried bravely but unsuccessfully to make power morally legitimate in American corporations.
This penetrating and fascinating book critically examines the gurus' ideas and traces their evolution to modern business applications. Hoopes challenges the popular movements that followed as a result and sharply criticizes today's gurus for continuing to perpetuate bad management in the name of democratic values. In the process, he shows executives and managers how to recognize fad from fact and gives them new guidelines for using authority effectively and responsibly.