Management ideology

Management: Last bastion of American hegemony?

October 27, 2011: 10:53 AM ET

The U.S. has lost its indisputable lead in several industries and disciplines, but it still dominates how business leaders the world over think about management. Change is afoot, though.

By Julian Birkinshaw, professor, London Business School

(TheMIX) -- How many living management gurus can you name who did not learn their trade in North America? I have asked many colleagues this question, and it's pretty hard to come up with a good list.

For example, consider the individuals on last year's "Thinkers 50" ranking list. By my reckoning, there are only seven who make the cut: Richard Branson (Virgin (VMED)), Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys (INFY)), Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale (Stockholm School of Economics), Lynda Gratton, Rob Goffee, and Gareth Jones (London Business School).

Does this matter? I think it does.

In the years following World War II, the United States dominated the global business world completely -- it was the major source of capital, the home of advanced manufacturing, and the source of most major technological developments. It provided the best quality management education, and it was the source of all the latest management thinking.

Today, we live in an increasingly pluralistic world. The U.S. is now the world's largest debtor nation, and the biggest sources of capital are the large sovereign wealth funds of the Middle East, Russia, and China. Leadership in advanced manufacturing is spread across such nations like Japan, Korea, Germany, and the U.S. Technological innovation is dispersed across the world, in countries like India, China, Singapore, Israel, Sweden, and the UK, as well as North America. Top-quality business schools are in every major market.

An American management culture?

In short, the rest of the world has caught up. North America no longer holds a clear advantage in any of these fields. With one exception: management ideology. More

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