Q1: Can we make management a profession?
With their power, their prominence, and their pay packages, CEOs are cynosures in the business universe. Could the structures of a management profession take in these corporate chiefs? Or should CEOs of publicly traded companies be treated as members of a separate profession, with its own rules and responsibilities?
Venture capitalists seed companies that are not yet a gleam in the public market's eye. Their investments can sprout and transform industries. Anne Glover '78, a past chairman of the British Venture Capital Association, says a professional association helps the industry self-police.
For most of the twentieth century, accountants were organized into a self-governing profession, but that structure has been shaken over the last decade by a wave of scandals. Yale SOM professors Rick Antle and Shyam Sunder discuss the implications for management of accounting’s successes and failures as a profession.
Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a leading critic of business education, arguing that business schools frequently fall short of other professional schools.
While technologies and social structures change through the ages, the basic need for efficient and skillful management of resources and organizations is a constant. An archaeologist and a historian describe how past societies have met the challenge of training effective and accountable managers.
Ideas become actions when they're pressed into service in a particular context. So are ideals tempered by real experience. We wondered how the idea of management as a profession (and the ideal of management as a profession) would play out at the level of daily life.
So, we sought out a group of graduates of the school. They've all gone to a management school and are managers by that definition at least, but they practice their craft (or profession) in different industries, locales, and roles. Each provides one view on the many-faceted world of management.
First we asked the participants to chronicle a day out of their work lives, breaking the overarching issue of what constitutes management down to a manageable but still rich unit of analysis. Then we set them loose to discuss the notion of management as a profession.
Charley Ellis suggests that, in order to become true professionals, managers will have to become "servant-leaders."
Could the market do more to improve ethical performance than professionalization? Professor Jim Baron proposes that voluntary certification of various facets of corporate responsibility could create a market for good behavior.
Should managers be trained to follow mechanistic organizational rules or to make decisions based on holistic understanding of the situations they face? Peter Bearman describes an often overlooked aspect of professionalism—discretion—and what it means for management.
When hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management plummeted toward bankruptcy in September 1998, its potential dissolution threatened the financial markets with disaster. Herb Allison, then the president of Merrill Lynch, was one of the few people in a position to avert a crash landing, but first he had to get a cranky coalition of competitive bankers and traders lined up behind his bailout plan.
How can managers integrate their values into business decisions? Trish Karter '82 talks about the decision to keep her company's headquarters in inner-city Boston, and how it grew from her sense of self.
According to John Rice and Fred Smagorinsky '87, management is competing with traditional professions like law and medicine for talented minority students—and losing. Rice and Smagorinsky are trying to change that.
One Last Question
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