Professor Bradley Bowden, member of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, publishes a book series that critically engages with lively and current debates within the field of management.

Even if we do not aspire to be a manager, or have a managerial role thrust upon us, the institutions and traditions of management pervade almost every aspect of our lives.

For those of us who work, a manager allocates the tasks that we perform and assesses our performance. If we have a gripe with the service we or a family member experience at a school, hospital, or restaurant, we seek out the relevant manager, believing this person to be the one ultimately responsible for the service that caused our complaint.

Professor Bradley Bowden

Managers are essentially held accountable for the ultimate success or failure of a business.

In his brand-new book series compiled in The Palgrave Handbook of Management History, Professor Bradley Bowden covers management history’s past and present with an unparalleled overview of both managerial practice and thought.

“The field of management history has recently diverged from business history, focusing on the study of organizations and the ways in which work is structured and managed,” says Professor Bowden, chief editor and author of multiple sections of the series.

The series dissects the history of management, which Professor Bowden argues is a poorly understood institution and that its roots are the product of a modern world. Theoretically, management tends to be associated with four functions: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling; but this narrow view likens management to systems of work based on slavery and totalitarian control.

Thus, Professor Bowden claims that management in the modern world is more complex, and we need to extend our definition of management to include 1) attention to costs; 2) maximizing competitive advantage; 3) directing output toward competitive mass markets; 4) applying legal frameworks that protect the rights of people and property; and 5) that it deals with free labour vested with a genuine capacity for choice of an occupation and an employer.

“If we are to differentiate ‘modern management’ as found in industrialized, democratic societies from other historical forms of task completion, it is evident that we must look beyond the standard textbook definition to include these functions,” says Professor Bowden.

Management is built on the free movement of capital and labour, on the right of individuals to choose whether they wish to work for themselves or on behalf of another party for hire and reward. If we are to extend our definition, then, from “management” to “management history,” then the latter is not a general history of work throughout the ages.

Rather, it must be an account of the emergence of the particular type of management – associated with the above characteristics – and of its fundamentally progressive role in human advance over the last 270 years.

Although not yet released in paper version, the series has received tremendous positive feedback in the field of management. It has been described as the most comprehensive exploration of management history in the market and spans management history thought and traditions, historiography and the development of the discipline.