Thursday, May 01, 2008

Management as a general skill

Here's Crooked Timber's Daniel Davies :

I think that actually, there probably is “a general skill called management which works in any and all domains”, and, ... I’ll also defend the proposition that this skill is pretty closely related to what they teach on MBA courses.

Here's the first part of the argument:

... the kernel of my argument for the existence of a general skill of management is that it is pretty obvious that there is a general deficit or “negative skill” of mismanagement, which equally obviously appears to work in roughly the same way in a variety of fields, and that therefore an opening stab at a definition of the general skill of management would be that it’s the absence of this deficit. Someone like Larry Summers had a particular form of this deficit in spades. It was widely known, throughout the economics profession and beyond, that Summers was not good at handling people. The job of President of Harvard is a management job, the vast majority of which involves being good at handling people. Nevertheless, Summers was given the job by fellow academics who respected his intellect, energy and ideas and who either rationalised to themselves or never even considered the fact that they were giving an important job to somebody who very clearly didn’t have the necessary skills for it.