In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Management

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Handbooks, Encyclopedias, and Major Works
  • Data Sources
  • Journals
  • Scientific Management
  • Increased Scale of Operations and Internal Contracting
  • Management by Design
  • Engineering and Standardization
  • McDonaldization
  • Human Relations
  • Leadership and the Functions of the Executive
  • Social Responsibility and Democracy
  • Managerial Revolution
  • Changing Rhetoric
  • Top Management Teams and Common Sensemaking
  • Multiple Sources of Sensemaking in Organizations
  • Current Trends

Sociology Management
Stewart Clegg
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0112


The study of management enjoys a fairly short history, with management having been recognized as a fit subject for study for just over a hundred years, although there are important antecedents. Management was discussed as early as the 16th century, but the term as we understand it today did not appear until the turn of the 20th century. Management remains a core tenet within business education but is somewhat marginal to much contemporary sociology. Today’s debates are dominated by the search for understanding and application of management theory in a much more global world than that of the United States, where modern management theory emerged. The term “manager” has its origins in English in the period 1555–1565. Shakespeare used it in the late 16th century, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the context of theatrical management. He talks of a character being a “manager of mirth.” While the terms “management” and “manager” had become known by about 1600, the term “manager” did not come into widespread usage until the late 19th century. Originally, the term comes from the Italian, from manege, with maneggiare meaning to handle, train (horses), with the stem deriving from mano, from the Latin manus, for “hand.” Although the origins of the term “manager” are manual—the stress on handling things—it would be quite wrong to think that management is a job that is principally premised on manual labor. Instead, it largely involves interpreting, understanding, directing, cajoling, communicating, leading, empowering, training, politicking, negotiating, enthusing, encouraging, focusing, explaining, excusing, obfuscating, communicating—a job full of action words that are all to do with the manager as a speaking subject, a person who manages to shape and express directions, in writing and in speech. The mastery of different forms of meaningful expression, in writing, talk, and images, is usually referred to as a mastery of discourse. Central to discourse is rhetoric; indeed, a skilled master of business will be a master of rhetoric. Rhetoric means the tools of persuasion and argumentation, the ways of producing agreement and of making a point. Managers have to be skilled at talking because their expressive capabilities will be the most used and useful assets that they have. In a world of individuals all capable of going their own way, the manager’s task is to steer, guide, and persuade people to pull together in a common enterprise—an organization—when this may not be the instinctive desire of those being addressed.


For beginning students, several introductory management textbooks provide a more basic introduction to the field. While covering much of the same ground, these also vary somewhat in topics emphasized or covered. Pugh and Hickson 2007 covers many of the most important writers in management on organizations, doing so in pithy and accurate entries, while the other texts mentioned are more textbook—though not all are conventional textbooks. Daft 2012 is an essential text to which Linstead, et al. 2010 is a good counterpoint. Clegg, et al. 2011; Grint 1995; Greenwood, et al. 2008; and Mintzberg 1973 provide helpful overviews, and Peters and Waterman 1982 spells out lessons for management from consulting encounters with a number of excellent companies. See also Scott 2001.

  • Clegg, Stewart, Martin Kornberger, and Tyrone Pitsis. 2011. Management and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice. 3d ed. London: SAGE.

    Written in an accessible style from a research-based focus, this book covers both psychologically oriented and sociologically oriented approaches to management, all the way from the individual to globalization.

  • Daft, Richard L. 2012. Management. 10th ed. Mason, OH: South Western.

    This is the standard US text that covers all the essentials that would be incorporated in standard courses on management.

  • Greenwood, Royston, Christine Oliver, Roy Suddaby, and Kerstin Sahlin-Andersson, eds. 2008. The SAGE handbook of organizational institutionalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Good for researchers and students who want to understand organizations as institutions, this book has chapters on key concepts such as institutional entrepreneurs, institutional fields, and institutional mechanisms.

  • Grint, Keith. 1995. Management: A sociological introduction. Oxford: Polity.

    A lively introduction to management orthodoxies that demonstrates, through the use of contemporary sociological theory, why many of the old approaches are in need of reconstruction. Not as explicitly critical as some of the other texts, such as Alvesson, et al. 2012 (see under Scientific Management) or as managerial as Daft 2012.

  • Linstead, Stephen, Liz Fulop, and Simon Lilley. 2010. Management and organizations: A critical text. London: Palgrave.

    A good counterpoint to Daft 2012: it covers some of the same material but from a perspective that is avowedly critical. What this entails is far more focus on the ways that management and organizations are founded, not so much on systematically rational approaches but on structures of social domination and exclusion.

  • Mintzberg, H. 1973. The nature of managerial work. New York: Harper and Row.

    A classic study of what managers actually do when they are managing. The methods were simple, the sample small, but the impact is significant: managers typically have to be capable of switching attention every ten minutes or so on average.

  • Peters, Thomas J., and Robert H. Waterman. 1982. In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies. New York: Harper and Row.

    The biggest-selling managerial book of all time. Spells out lessons for management from consulting encounters with a number of excellent companies, focusing on the cultural and leadership characteristics that made them successful. Many of these excellent companies were later seen to be not as consistently excellent as one might have predicted from the findings.

  • Pugh, Derek, and David J. Hickson. 2007. Writers on organizations. 6th ed. London: Penguin.

    Over six editions this has been a reliable and thorough introduction to the world of management thinking, with each edition updated to include the most important of contemporary writers as well as the classics. It is an indispensable companion for introductory students.

  • Scott, W. Richard. 2001. Institutions and organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    The standard textbook for the institutional approach to management and organizations, with a focus on institutional isomorphism as one or other of coercively, normatively, or mimetically founded being the major mechanism for explaining how and why organizations are as they are.

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