For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"We Are All Managers Now; We Always Were: On the Development and Demise of Management"

by Grey, C (1999)


The existence of an identi®able group of people who are labelled `managers' has been one of the most signi®cant aspects of the organization of work and society for well over a century. This separation of managers from others has been questioned for some years by critical writers, not least because it ignores the many managerial activities performed by non-managers both in and outside the workplace. This argument suggests that the development of the `special' status of managers is a construction which requires explanation. Accepting this, three broad types of explanation are reviewed in the paper: technical, elite and political approaches. Notwithstanding these explanations, in recent years the logic ± although not necessarily the actuality ± of organizational change programmes, and especially of the concept of empowerment, has been suggestive of the `demise' of management, most especially middle management. This demise has implied an erosion of the distinction between managers and managed. Now, organizational members are told that `we are all managers', and the three approaches have various ways of explaining this, which are reviewed. Critics may reply that `we always were', thus welcoming a more democratic notion of management, but this paper argues that such a reply re¯ects an inadequate, and potentially oppressive, understanding of management.


Managerialism, Critical Humanism, Weber, Marx, Marxism, Political Economy, Sociology


Critical Management Studies, Organisation and Management Studies, Capitalism

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