From higher aims to hired hands : the social transformation of American business schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession


From higher aims to hired hands : the social transformation of American business schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession

Rakesh Khurana

Princeton University Press, 2010, c2007

  • : pbk

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"Third printing, and first paperback printing, 2010"--T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references (p. 483-507) and index



Is management a profession? Should it be? Can it be? This major work of social and intellectual history reveals how such questions have driven business education and shaped American management and society for more than a century. The book is also a call for reform. Rakesh Khurana shows that university-based business schools were founded to train a professional class of managers in the mold of doctors and lawyers but have effectively retreated from that goal, leaving a gaping moral hole at the center of business education and perhaps in management itself. Khurana begins in the late nineteenth century, when members of an emerging managerial elite, seeking social status to match the wealth and power they had accrued, began working with major universities to establish graduate business education programs paralleling those for medicine and law. Constituting business as a profession, however, required codifying the knowledge relevant for practitioners and developing enforceable standards of conduct. Khurana, drawing on a rich set of archival material from business schools, foundations, and academic associations, traces how business educators confronted these challenges with varying strategies during the Progressive era and the Depression, the postwar boom years, and recent decades of freewheeling capitalism. Today, Khurana argues, business schools have largely capitulated in the battle for professionalism and have become merely purveyors of a product, the MBA, with students treated as consumers. Professional and moral ideals that once animated and inspired business schools have been conquered by a perspective that managers are merely agents of shareholders, beholden only to the cause of share profits. According to Khurana, we should not thus be surprised at the rise of corporate malfeasance. The time has come, he concludes, to rejuvenate intellectually and morally the training of our future business leaders.


Introduction: Business Education and the Social Transformation of American Management 1 I: The Professionalization Project in American Business Education, 1881-1941 1: An Occupation in Search of Legitimacy 23 2: Ideas of Order: Science, the Professions, and the University in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century America 51 3: The Invention of the University-Based Business School 87 4: "A Very Ill-Defined Institution": The Business School as Aspiring Professional School 137 II: The Institutionalization of Business Schools, 1941-1970 5: The Changing Institutional Field in the Postwar Era 195 6: Disciplining the Business School Faculty: The Impact of the Foundations 233 III: The Triumph of the Market and the Abandonment of the Professionalization Project, 1970-the Present 7: Unintended Consequences: The Post-Ford Business School and the Fall of Managerialism 291 8: Business Schools in the Marketplace 333 Epilogue: Ideas of Order Revisited:Markets, Hierarchies, and Communities 363 Acknowledgments 385 Bibliographic and Methods Note 387 Notes 397 Selected Bibliography 483 Index 509

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