Management Management In Antiquity
by
Karl Moore
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 January 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0067

Introduction

“Antiquity” may be defined as the period in world history ending with the fall of Rome in 476 CE. Usually a study of Antiquity or ancient history would begin with the rise of the first civilization in Sumer early in the fourth millennium BCE. The study of Antiquity as it relates to the subject of management begins with the Uruk culture in Sumer around 3500 BCE and then proceeds to a study of Sumer, Assyria, Babylonia, Syria, Canaan/Israel, Egypt, Anatolia. Egypt, Iran, India, and China follow, and finally the Aegean, Archaic, classical Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman polities, societies, and economies may be analyzed. “Management” in the context of Antiquity may be defined as the organization and supervision of production, and as exchange in agriculture, manufacturing, and/or services such as public administration of taxation systems or treasury. A more concise definition may be the process of “getting work done through people.” Studying management in the ancient world presents unique problems. The boundaries between public and private sectors are often highly fluid, and exchanges often took place for motives other than profit. Modern business models involving risk, productivity, and investment calculations are hard to apply. Until the 1990s the general consensus of business schools held that the study of management was relevant only since 1800. This view is challenged by Morgen Witzel, who maintains that management has been both thought about and practiced for at least five thousand years. In support of Witzel’s argument, this article maintains that management has a much more extensive history than previously thought, and such a history offers valuable lessons for current management. Ancient Phoenician, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, and Roman culture are examined. Organizing people to complete a task, essentially the task of managers, has long been a point of interest for scholars, merchants, philosophers, and rulers. The examination of several ancient societies and their management practices moves the dialogue past simply the origins of scientific management and toward a more holistic understanding of current management theory and practices. Understanding the transition from the strictly hierarchical royal businesses of the ancient Near East to the more entrepreneurial practices of the Greeks and the advent of the first firms in Rome will enable a broader and deeper understanding of the current managerial field.

General Overviews and Introductory Works

Near Eastern and Asian management models were more hierarchical than those that later arose in the classical world. In the former, among cultures such as the Egyptian, Assyrian, Tyrian, and Carthaginian, the boundaries between those who managed and those who were managed were very clear; the same is true in China. Those boundaries were less clear in Greece and Rome. Any brief survey of ancient business must be highly selective, focusing on those civilizations that are the best documented with archaeology and literature. Even a selective approach will illuminate management and organizational trends that emerged over centuries, moving from the highly centralized business models of the Phoenician, Egyptians, and Chinese to the more entrepreneurial model used by the Greeks, and ending with the family model propagated by the Romans. Moore and Lewis 2009, Roberts 2011, and Witzel 2012 provide a strong general overview of their respective topics and together form the research basis for much of this article. Other sources supply the needed detail for specific sections of the discussion. Moore and Lewis 2009 makes a useful guide for analyzing business practices in many of the ancient civilizations. Witzel 2012 focuses solely on management thought and less on the actual nature of business in the ancient world.

  • Moore, Karl, and David Lewis. The Origins of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Modern elements of business can be traced back to some of the most ancient civilizations. Moore and Lewis examine the lineage of globalization and current international business trends.

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    • Roberts, Keith. The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

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      Roberts is able to construct a gripping, detailed narrative centered on the origins of money and financing.

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      • Witzel, Morgen. A History of Management Thought. London: Routledge, 2012.

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        Witzel takes readers through the evolution of management thought beginning with the ancient empires of Egypt and the China, moving right through to the modern day.

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        The Phoenician Bronze Age

        Difficult as it may seem to believe, business activity in pursuit of profit thrived between 3300 and 1200 BCE, the period generally known as the Bronze Age. Moore and Lewis 2009 as well as Silver 1995 give a much broader overview of the development of the corporations and multinationals over the centuries. Commerce itself arose in the Early Bronze Age before c. 2200 BCE, when temple and palace merchants began to trade for personal financial gain. After 2000 BCE, rulers began to draft law codes that protected property rights and investments, and merchants engaged in long-distance commerce. Assyrian and Babylonian firms set up internalized trading networks stretching from the Black Sea to Bahrain. There has been significant literature written on the topic of the ancient world of the Near and Far East. Because this section focuses on the Phoenicians, there is a mix of titles that examines only the Phoenicians culture, as well as those that more broadly examine the ancient Mesopotamian world. In the late second and early first millennia BCE the Canaanites of Ugarit, Sidon, and Tyre, known to the Greeks as the Phoenicians, vastly expanded these internalized trading networks. Markoe 2000 gives a strong general introduction to the culture of the Phoenicians and contains many beautiful illustrations. The Phoenicians monopolized trade in textiles, manufactured goods, silver, copper, and iron. Their customers stretched from Iberia to Assyria. Documentation from Ugarit in the form of the Ras Shamra tablets and from the archaeology of Tyrian settlements abroad reveals a vast, organized management structure.

        • Markoe, Glenn. Phoenicians. Vol. 2, Peoples of the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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          This beautifully illustrated guide to the ancient Phoenician world includes photographs of relics as well as detailed maps. The content covers a larger period than most works, beginning in the Late Bronze Age (1550 BCE), when the first Phoenician settlements were founded.

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          • Moore, Karl, and David Lewis. The Origins of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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            The authors posit the theory that our current round of globalization goes much further back than many theorists have proposed, citing early multinationals from 3500 BCE onward. The authors touch on early Mesopotamia, India, Assyria, and the Phoenicians before moving on to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

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            • Silver, Morris. Economic Structure of Antiquity. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1995.

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              Ancient economies are reexamined in the context. Silver conducts strong analysis on the importance of these costs in shaping the ancient economies and the effects of the gods, slavery, and entrepreneurship.

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              Organizational Structure and Business in Tyre and Ugrit

              The crown, hereditary royal merchants (and later private merchants), small entrepreneurs, and the navy and the army formed a vast organizational structure, first in Ugarit and later in Tyre. Both of these ports, as well as Sidon and Byblos, enjoyed tremendous advantages in being located on the Great Sea and midway between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Having little farmland of their own, these Canaanite cities turned to trade and manufacturing, becoming the workshops of Antiquity. Heltzer 1978, which specifically examines Ugarit, notes that it was the ruling princes who formulated trading strategy. Trading ventures were often supervised by admirals who themselves might have been royal merchants. Private merchants also took part in joint ventures. Moscati 1999 examines Phoenician colonial tactics, noting that colonies were founded overseas near key sources of food and raw materials as well as near potential markets. Production was undertaken by guilds of craftsmen who dyed cloth and worked bronze. Metallurgy guilds also employed management techniques. The eldest member of the guild managed his follow members. This elder in turn reported to the king and received bonuses of sorts through royal fiefs. The management system had to evolve because guild members became increasingly entrepreneurial and dispersed. There were clear signs, however, of continued royal oversight and of partnerships that allowed for continual trade and functionality of the metallurgy production. Sadly, scholars do not have as much documentation from Tyre as they do from Ras Shamra and Ugarit. There are no Tyre tablets that survive. The Ras Shamra tablets document the day-to-day business of Ugarit. They show the presence of royal textile factories that guarded the practice of dyeing the purple fabrics, which gave the Canaanites of the north their Greek name: Phoenicians (derived from the ancient Greek word phoínios meaning “purple”). Aubet 2001 is one of the most cited and expansive analyses of the political and economic dealings of the Phoenicians, noting that Tyre, in the days of Ithobaal and later Pumayyaton, the Phoenician trading structure reached its zenith. Colonies existed in Syria, Israel, and Assyria. Metalworking settlements were founded in Cyprus. Kition in Cyprus became the parent settlement for other networks in Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, and North Africa. Gades in Spain managed the powerful Iberian network that mined and shipped precious metals back to Kition, Tyre, and eventually, the Assyrian Empire. In all of this, the temples of Baal-Melkart played an important management role. They provided a ready-made hierarchy that internalized and supervised all business transactions. Respect for Baal became a powerful management tool. Standards were set by priests to ensure merchants complied with patent laws. Canaanites believed innovation came by divine design. Baal himself was a merchant. To steal innovation from a merchant who had been given technology by the gods was an affront to the gods themselves.

              • Aubet, Maria Eugenia. The Phoenicians and the West: Politics, Colonies and Trade. 2d ed. Translated by Mary Turton. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                The updated version of this work includes new research and findings from excavation sites and a more extensive bibliography. Originally published in Spanish, this seminal work is still looked to as one of the most widely acclaimed sources on the Phoenician expansion of trade and commerce.

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                • Heltzer, Michael. Goods, Prices and the Organization of the Trade in Ugarit: Marketing and Transportation in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Half of the II Millennium B.C.E. Translated by Alastair Hamilton. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Reichert, 1978.

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                  Helzer gives a thorough examination of the economics of the trading post of Ugarit. The first section focuses on the commercial goods and prices of the area, while the second section focuses on the merchants themselves.

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                  • Moscati, Sabatino. The World of the Phoenicians. London: Phoenix Giant, 1999.

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                    This was one of Moscati’s earlier books on the topic of Phoenicians, first published in 1968. Moscati covers the evolution of the Phoenicians’ colonization of the Mediterranean, with examination and description of the geological and historical importance of each area.

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                    Ancient Egypt

                    Egypt was the most centralized state in Antiquity but competition existed among the various temples. Van den Boorn 1988 gives specific insights into certain aspects on Egypt cultures, with each providing detailed translations of original Egyptian works. The work notes that although most societies in Antiquity were “magical” societies, Egypt was the most magical of them all. The entire economy revolved around the afterlife and the quest for immortality to be obtained through a divine Pharaoh. For centuries Egypt worked, in part, due to its powerful bureaucracy, which managed large-scale projects such as building the pyramids. Strudwick 1985 and Quirke 1990 together give a strong, complete background on the administration and structure of the Egyptian bureaucracy. In the Old Kingdom, Egyptians were able to create increasingly complex bureaucracies to accommodate their expanding needs, much as multinational firms do in the present. There was little evidence of any kind of private sector because all business dealings were made by the royal seat of power. This differentiated the Egyptian systems from others of the time. Witzel 2012 gives an excellent overview of the evolution of management thought. In such a system, the pharaoh became the acting CEO/chairman, using the royal bureaucracy to carry out his directives as formal decrees. Still, those directly below him, such as the viziers (highly ranked officials), were allowed a certain amount of power with the ability to make appointments. The Old Kingdom and its Middle and New Kingdom successors set up a clear chain of command. Only the viziers could decide the fate of poorly performing officials; those whom the poorly performing official reported to did not have this authority. This Egyptian management model evolved over time. The context of the Egyptian Empire with the rest of the ancient world is seen in Kuhrt 1995 and then the work of Grajetzki 2006. When Mentuhotep unified Upper and Lower Egypt in the Middle Kingdom in c. 2040 BCE, significant shifts in the management of the bureaucracy occurred that would differentiate this period from that of the earlier styles of management seen in the Old Kingdom. The scopes of projects had changed because no longer were there giant pyramids to construct. Temples and palaces, as well as maintenance projects, were now at the forefront of the Egyptian economy. Royal power became less centralized, and the pretentions of the pharaohs more modest. Because Middle Kingdom Egypt simply was larger and more complex and thus harder to manage centrally, upper management in Egyptian bureaucracy evolved to include merchant princes and temple priests, with many of these powerful individuals becoming sponsors of large works and trading enterprises. Temples became more independent and even levied their own taxes. The basic pattern of state and temple enterprise persisted into the New Kingdom, where scribes composed treatises and proverbs, which became the first management literature of the Near East. Witzel 2009 also offers a specific managerial case study on the tomb works of Deir al-Medina, which is a microcosm for the general working environment of ancient Egypt. Records were found at the excavated archaeological site of Deir al-Medina that allowed scholars to piece together the management structure employed in creating the giant monuments that Egypt is famous for. The managerial foremen and scribes of ancient Egypt had many of the same responsibilities that are given to current managers. There were responsible for their team’s overall performance and for reporting to superiors—but also for what managers would now call human resource management. These managers of Deir al-Medina were the products of the general bureaucratic system of Egypt.

                    • Grajetzki, Wolfram. The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society. London: Duckworth, 2006.

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                      Often overlooked, the Middle Kingdom was a diverse and rich time period in Egyptian history. Grajetzki examines the culture, history, and society of the Middle Kingdom, both centrally and provincially.

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                      • Kempt, Berry J. Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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                        Originally published in 1989, this edition has been updated in order to include the recent developments in scholarly and archaeological fields. Kempt’s unfolding of the Egyptian identity includes black-and-white pictures of Egyptian artifacts.

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                        • Kuhrt, Amélie. The Ancient Near East, c. 3000–330 BC. Vol. 1. Routledge History of the Ancient World. London: Routledge, 1995.

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                          In the first volume of the work, Kuhrt examines the creation and maintenance of early civilization, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Syria.

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                          • Quirke, Stephen. The Administration of Egypt in the Late Middle Kingdom: The Hieratic Documents. New Malden, UK: SIA, 1990.

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                            With fresh analysis on documents dating back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, Quirke presents a unique perspective of the inner workings of Egyptian bureaucracy.

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                            • Strudwick, Nigel. The Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom. London: KPI, 1985.

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                              Strudwick examines the major title holders of the Old Kingdom of Egypt and their duties. A detailed description of temples and shrines is presented and analyzed.

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                              • van den Boorn, G. P. F. The Duties of the Vizier: Civil Administration in the Early New Kingdom. London: Kegan Paul, 1988.

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                                Boorn gives commentary and direct translation of the Egyptian text and tombs that dictate the regulations and roles of viziers during the early New Kingdom.

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                                • Witzel, Morgen. Management History: Text and Cases. London: Routledge, 2009.

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                                  An interesting case study of an ancient Egyptian construction town gives insight into the managerial roles of foremen and scribes.

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                                  • Witzel, Morgen. A History of Management Thought. London: Routledge, 2012.

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                                    Witzel writes a compelling and well-researched guide to management thought over the centuries. He goes further than many authors in examining management practices as far back as the ancient Egyptians.

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                                    Ancient China

                                    At first China lagged behind the Near East and did not enter the Bronze Age until 1800 BCE. Chang 1980 gives an in-depth look at the early Shang dynasty, which had a large impact on the formation of Chinese management. The primitive communism of the Shang era (1766–1122 BCE) inspired Marxist concepts of an “Asiatic mode of production.” Gascoigne 2003 is a good source for a clear and insightful catalogue of the main different empires of China, and is a good place to start for an introduction to the subject. Shang China resembled Egypt in that no record of major private merchants can be found in a system completely given to state enterprise. The Wang, or ruler, dictated when to plant and harvest crops and conscripted peasants to fulfill his orders. Agriculture was the mainstay in the Chinese economy and farmers would work in agricultural collectives that would be controlled by the ruler; there was very little titled land and thus very little opportunity for entrepreneurship. In terms of becoming a trader, all career paths came through lineage. Thus family would also be occupational units, with the family crest depicting the trade of each clan. Smaller clans would join or be directly controlled by larger clans or family units. There was centralized decision making, even within families, in order to rule a village or town. Barns 1999 focuses on this social structure of the Chinese civilization and further examines how surrounding cultures of the Japanese and Koreans were influenced by this civilization. Thus a clear hierarchical structure was developed within the family units that was reflected in the state bureaucracy. The Zhou dynasty (1027–256 BCE) brought China into the Iron Age. The territory of the Shang kingdom was expanded and governed through local warlords who were often blood relatives of the royal family. These warlords began to usurp power from the capital, and Chinese culture began to move away from the strict ritualistic culture and toward more decadence. This had an important effect on business. Rindova and Starbuck 1997 helps to clarify the complicated nature of the bureaucracy and its administration. With less-centralized control over economic activity and the beginning of conspicuous consumption by the hungry warlords, entrepreneurship and private business began to flourish in China. Chinese culture and business would continue to evolve suffering from the growing pains of a weakening bureaucracy and almost-constant violence. Shang and early Zhou China functioned along a hereditary hierarchical structure, and this structure inspired a number of early management treatises such as “The Officials of Zhou.” This treatise expressed the concept of the Mandate of Heaven. According to the Mandate, rulers were obligated to ensure the well-being of their subjects. If they sought to oppress them or neglect their well-being they forfeited the right to manage. Moore and Lewis 2009 is able to bring to light further managerial insights, especially in the context of the Chinese bureaucracy. Chinese capitalism finally arose in the “Spring and Autumn” and “Warring States” periods that stretched from 775 to c. 250 BCE. The rise of iron tools boosted and privatized food production. Eventually, private traders set up businesses. The new Chinese capitalism was just as family-oriented as the older communism, which continued to function.

                                    • Barns, Gina Lee. The Rise of Civilization in East Asia: The Archaeology of China, Korea and Japan. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999.

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                                      Barns posits that understanding the current rise of the Asian continent comes through understanding its past. An important examination is made of the evolution of the Asian continent as a whole, and earlier Shang and Zhou dynasties were critical in the development of Japanese and Korean culture.

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                                      • Chang, Kwang-chih Shang Civilization. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980.

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                                        Gives an exceptionally detailed description of the rise and fall of the Shang dynasty. Combining anthropology and archaeology as well as historical methods, Chang is able to present a complete picture of the civilization.

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                                        • Gascoigne, Bamber. The Dynasties of China: A History. London: Carroll and Graf, 2003.

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                                          Originally published in 1973. Ancient China comes to life in the beautifully illustrated volume by Gasciogne. The author focuses on events and personalities through Chinese history to form a fluid narrative.

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                                          • Moore, Karl, and David Lewis. The Origins of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                            Authors travel back thousands of years to find the beginnings of business in the ancient world. Excellent commentary is given on how ancient lessons can be applied to current business problems.

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                                            • Rindova, Violina P., and William H. Starbuck. “Ancient Chinese Theories of Control.” Journal of Management Inquiry 6.2 (1997): 144–159.

                                              DOI: 10.1177/105649269762008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This article examines the structure and bureaucracy of ancient China. It describes critical relationships and duties of officials as well as emperors and explains managerial shifts over time. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                              Management Thought in China

                                              It is also important to examine the differing perspectives of management thought that came out of the early Chinese dynasties. “The Officials of Zhou”—dictating the duties, reports, and procedures of the officials of the kingdom of Zhou—has been called the most sophisticated document on organizational structure from ancient times. Confucius, Laozi, and Han Feizi all espoused differing values in terms of managerial thinking. Chinese thinkers confronted the social unrest and disorder of this time by creating different management schools. Confucius stressed tradition, benevolent hierarchy and mutual loyalty. His modern disciples are found in Taiwan. Hall and Ames 1987 establishes a strong philosophical base on the general writings of Confucius and actually processes them. Chen 2003 (originally published in 1911) offers a more intimate analysis of the application of the Confucius thought and its effect on Chinese bureaucracy right until the 20th century. Laozi preached a creed of harmony with nature and leaving well enough alone that some liken to libertarianism. Legge 2001 puts these thinkers into context with others of their time including Laozi. Confucius championed the nation of active, benevolent management and Laozi championed that of passive, minimal management (Wong 1993). Both entertained the belief that if humans were either treated well or left alone, society would benefit. Han Feizi (d. 233 BCE), on the other hand, believed the worst about human nature and proposed management based upon fear, control, and strict enforcement of rules to keep people in check. According to Witzel 2012, modern managers have nonetheless borrowed two general elements from this grimmest of Chinese thinkers. The first involves perspective standards “which include the legal system and punishment for failure to obey the law”; the second involves the “method of controlling the bureaucracy by comparing ‘word’ with ‘deed’, or in other words, measuring actual performance against expectations. . . .” Fei also believed that the leader had a duty to explain clearly the laws and regulations by which people must abide, and the punishments that will befall them if they do not. That puts the responsibility for good behavior in the hands of the individual. The Dragon Emperor Shi Huangdi and Mao Zedong were to pay tribute to Han Feizi’s creed of legalism. Han 2003 expresses a differing philosophy that also affected Chinese business. All these thinkers were extremely influential in the development of the current Chinese business model as well as many elements of Western business norms. Set standards and regulations as well as strong bureaucracies and management responsibility are elements that still interest contemporary management thinkers.

                                              • Chen Huang-Chang. The Economic Principles of Confucianism and His School. Vol. 1. Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2003.

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                                                Originally published in 1911. Chen Huan-Chang offers a unique perspective into the teaching of Confucianism, as he served in the civil bureaucracy during the last years of the Qing Empire.

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                                                • Hall, David L., and Roger T. Ames. Thinking through Confucius. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.

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                                                  The authors move through the writing of Confucius using a philosophical lens. It is suggested that this type of examination of Chinese philosophy could prove useful when dealing with current Western problems.

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                                                  • Han Feizi. Han Feizi: Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

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                                                    Founder of the legalist philosophy Han Feizi wrote extensively on the preservation and strengthening of the Chinese state.

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                                                    • Legge, James. The Chinese Classics. Vol. 1. Safety Harbor, FL: Simon, 2001.

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                                                      Originally published in 1861. Legge was one of the first in the West to create a body of work on the ancient Chinese writing. In Volume 1 there is a general evaluation of the thinkers and their works.

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                                                      • Witzel, Morgen. A History of Management Thought. London: Routledge, 2012.

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                                                        Witzel is able to draw important management lessons from numerous cultures and historical periods. These are also applied to current management thought.

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                                                        • Wong, Siu-lun. “The Chinese Family Firm: A Model.” Family Business Review 6.3 (1993): 327–340.

                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-6248.1993.00327.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          A clear overview is given of the distinctive Chinese family unit and its influence on the organization structure of Chinese organizations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                          Ancient Greece

                                                          The Greeks became the first to forge a business culture based completely on entrepreneurship. With its mountainous terrain and vast assortment of peninsula and islands, the Aegean region defied centralization. Homer 1967 adds literary context to the evolution of the Greek state from warrior to entrepreneurial civilization. Hellenic enterprises were small and freestanding, shunning both internalization and hierarchy. Neither Athens nor Sparta was able to impose prolonged central control over the Greek world for very long. Roberts 2011 gives up-to-date analysis of the major industries, market composition, and general history of ancient Greece, as well as of ancient Rome and early Near East cultures. The independent naukleros (trader) with his lone ship took to the Aegean and Mediterranean unhindered by the large bureaucratic apparatus seen in Ugarit, Tyre, and Carthage. The Iron Age revolution of 900–600 BCE produced an impact not unlike the digital revolution of today, further empowering a new culture of independent, autonomous arm’s-length enterprises. Austin and Vidal-Naquet 1977 gives further background on the economic development of the area and is a heavily cited source, noting that the relatively cheap metal allowed for independence from sponsors, because their funds were no longer needed to start a business. Another innovation of iron was the advent of easily portable coinage leading to the money revolution. Coin enabled credit and credit, in turn, enabled business. Once tools were affordable, farmers could change their excess stores into coin and in term purchase more equipment. Finley 1952 gives a more classical approach to the credit market that helped facilitate the emerging entrepreneurial class, whereas Redfield 1986 gives a more succinct explanation of the market forces. The polis was now compelled to encourage innovation and productivity. Thomas and Conant 2003 writes specifically on the evolution and power of these city-states. City-state oligarchs, and later tyrants, relied on mercenaries and traders or free farmers to procure cash and goods. Waterways gave the Greeks access to large wheat supplies, but this was facilitated only through trade. Thus there was an imperative for Hellenistic tyrants to encourage productive estates and innovation. This was only encouraged by the intense rivalry between the competing city-states. Like a firm, city-states gave tools to their “employees,” such as useful measurement and equations, and specialized tools, in order to increase profits. First Solon and then a century later Cleisthenes applied that natural law to human society and sparked an important technical innovation that is expanded upon in Greene 2000. The result was the Athenian democratic revolution. The Athenian revolution triggered the first “clash of civilizations.” The wars of Darius and Xerxes against Greece also involved a clash of management ideologies. The Persian Empire (538–331 BCE) rested upon and absorbed the ancient top-down management cultures of Babylon, Tyre, and Egypt. At the same time, as Moore and Lewis 2009 in a more macro perspective of the ancient Greek civilization notes, the Persian Empire gained much of its success from the ability to manage a vast number of differing cultures The Persians understood that savagery and punishment would in no way help the empire prosper in the longer term; they could not simply force their own culture on those they conquered. Nevertheless, the Persians certainly ruled with an albeit more flexible bureaucracy, which stood in stark contrast to the methods of the Greeks. The Greeks of Asia Minor, with their democratic and entrepreneurial notions and Hellenic exceptionalism, ultimately proved indigestible. Their tax revolt led to two rounds of war with Greece itself. Free markets flourished with some minimal taxation and regulation.

                                                          • Austin, M. M., and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. Economic and Social History of Ancient Greece: An Introduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.

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                                                            Examines the evolution of Greek cultures through commercial and literary narratives. Through examination of both the social and economic fields, the authors create a detailed and informative picture of ancient Greece.

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                                                            • Finley, M. I. Studies in Land and Credit in Ancient Athens, 500–200 B.C.: The Horos-Inscriptions. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1952.

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                                                              A thoughtful and in-depth analysis of the origins of credit in the ancient Greek economy. Legal parameters and general transactions are also examined to give context to the credit system.

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                                                              • Greene, Kevin. “Technological Innovation and Economic Progress in the Ancient World: M. I. Finley Re-considered.” Economic History Review 53.1 (2000): 29–59.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/1468-0289.00151Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                This article was written in response to an article written by Moses Finley. It reexamines the technological progress made in the ancient civilization and argues for a more nuanced view of its evolution. Available onlinefor purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                • Homer. The Odyssey of Homer. Translated by Richard Lattimore. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

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                                                                  The classic Hellenic tale of the adventure of Odysseus and his journey back home. Homer gives a romanticized reflection on the warrior class of ancient Greek culture.

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                                                                  • Moore, Karl, and David Lewis. The Origins of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                                    In Origins, an examination of the rise of globalization is given through thorough historical analysis. Specifically, Moore and Lewis examine the entrepreneurial origins of the Greek business model.

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                                                                    • Redfield, James M. “The Development of the Market in Ancient Greece.” Paper presented at a symposium held 9–13 September 1984 at St. George’s House, Windsor Castle, under the auspices of the Liberty Fund. In The Market in History. Edited by B. L. Anderson and A. J. H. Latham, 29–32. London: Croom Helm, 1986.

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                                                                      A collection of essays on the subject of market evolution throughout history.

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                                                                      • Roberts, Keith. The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

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                                                                        Roberts follows the complex narrative of the rise of business and economics in the ancient world. Discusses major industries and sociopolitical determinants of each civilization is examined, focusing mainly on ancient Greece and Rome.

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                                                                        • Thomas, Carol G., and Craig Conant. Citadel to City-State: The Transformation of Greece, 1200–700 BCE. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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                                                                          Thomas and Craig bring to life one of the least understood periods in history: the “dark age” of Greece. There is an interesting exploration of this forgotten time and its transition into the famous classical Greek period.

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                                                                          Management Thought in Greece

                                                                          Greek literature reveals much thought on economics and management. Writing in the late 700s BCE, Homer expressed disdain over the decline of the ancient culture of warriors, gods, and kings and the rise of the merchant. Throughout the pages of the Odyssey one encounters the contrast between the heroic Odysseus and the petty, grasping Phoenician and Greek traders he encounters and despises. Witzel 2012 gives an in-depth analysis of the ancient writers, putting forward their management and business ideology. Homer blamed the new entrepreneurialism for the corruption of a whole generation of Hellenes. In the early 600s BCE, Hesiod, on the other hand, comes to terms with the new entrepreneurialism. In his Works and Days he preaches a work ethic that would please any Calvinist. “Works and Days” could be subtitled “How to Survive and Prosper in the New Mediterranean Economy.” Hesiod outlines how peasants can supplement their incomes by becoming traders, identifies the best times to sail, and describes the best way to manage a ship. By the time of Pericles, the Greeks seem to have grasped primitive concepts of productivity, progress, and economic growth. In contrast, Plato (b. 472–d. 347 BCE) longed for an aristocratic republic (in his work by the same name) and expounded the concept of the division of labor (Plato 2008). People were naturally inclined toward certain tasks and not to others. Cities and markets created places where people could trade for things that they were not naturally inclined to produce. Filled with disdain for failed Periclean democracy, Plato the idealist envisioned a return to hierarchical management of state and society. Some see in his Republic the germs of medieval theocracy, others the precursor of modern communism. Morgan 2006 provides insight into current management models and how these ancient concepts are reflected in those current models. On the subject of administrators, Plato believed it their duty to ensure the wants of the people were met, and that people were educated on all matters concerning their own political life. Hierarchy was important to accomplish and administrate such matters efficiently. Xenophanes, or Xenophon (b. 430–d. 354 BCE), the philosopher-soldier, can be connected to many of the theories still taught in management schools (Xenophon 1972). After his long march recorded in the Anabasis, he recommended constant consultation with those under him as well as persuasion instead of coercion to carry out orders. Though Greek democracy would soon perish, Greek entrepreneurialism would survive much longer, spread through the Hellenistic world, and eventually inspire the all-important economy of Rome.

                                                                          • Morgan, Gareth. Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2006.

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                                                                            Aims to change the way in which organizations are studied and understood. This work features excellent models and illustrations and important business concepts.

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                                                                            • Plato. Great Dialogues of Plato. Translated by W. H. D. Rouse. New York: Signet Classics, 2008.

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                                                                              A translated compilation of the great “philosopher-king”; comprises The Republic, The Apology, Crito, Phaido, Ion, Meno, and Symposium. Plato gives insight into Greek ideology and struggles with the meaning of justice and education along with other subjects.

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                                                                              • Witzel, Morgen. A History of Management Thought. London: Routledge, 2012.

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                                                                                Though most believe that management thought began with the advent of scientific management, Witzel makes a compelling argument for inclusion of ancient management thinkers and their lessons.

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                                                                                • Xenophon. The Persian Expedition. Translated by Rex Warner. New York: Penguin, 1972.

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                                                                                  Rex Warner brings to life the writings of the warrior turned philosopher Xenophon. The officer writes the accounts of a landed aristocratic and the battle of Sparta in 371 BCE.

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                                                                                  Ancient Rome

                                                                                  The Roman Republic and Empire furnish the critical link by which Greek ideas and practices of free enterprise would be transmitted to the medieval and modern worlds. Romans were to be some of the foremost business managers the world had seen. Roberts 2011 explains that this rested on the two distinctive principles that differentiated Roman business from that of other civilizations. These were the patronage or family model for business and the advent of the publicans, which were the early forms of corporations. Early Roman business beginnings modified the entrepreneurial free-market model of the Greeks to fit its own needs. Both Pallottino 1975 and Cornell 1995 do an excellent job of setting the stage for the conditions of the birth of Rome and give interesting insights into Roman ancestors. Cornell 1995 carries on a bit further into history, giving a strong analysis of the early Roman Republic. The family, not the entrepreneur, became the staple in Roman business. The “Twelve Tables of Roman Law” of 449 BCE enshrined the rights of patriarchal families, not individuals. In the absence of a safety net, the paterfamilias provided support and protection. It is important to understand that the power of the Roman family included not only the typical nuclear family, but also stretched to control the extended family and all those that were the property of the family, including slaves. Patronage, essentially the strength of each family’s network, enabled them to gain significant power. The family structure allowed for the leverage of strong patronage ties, which could offer protection to those who sought it, in return for service. This patronage system encouraged trust among dispersed businesses whose managers were part of the same patronage system. Geography placed the Romans and other Latins on rich farmland and forced them to defend it from Italian mountain tribes. Wells 1984 offers a more in-depth examination of the origins and effects of urbanization in early Roman times, which was crucial to the formation of the business model. Rome would live by the sword. Booty soon became the primary motive for war. Rome first united the Latins and then in the 4th century BCE all of southern Italy. Thus Rome began to operate on an economy of warfare. Citizens ran their own firms, and even slaves could technically become managers. With the victory over and destruction of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Rome had greater access to markets and materials. Rich 1995 fully explains the reasoning for expansion. The constant expansion of the empire profoundly changed Roman life; Ferrill 1988 explains its business culture and provides an interesting narrative on how that affected the republic as a whole. Rome began to overstretch her capacity because there was no formal bureaucracy to organize the vast supplies and funds needed to maintain armies at great distances. This opened the door for what would essentially be large Roman corporations, at the time called publicans or publicani.

                                                                                  • Cornell, Tim J. The Beginning of Rome: Italy from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000–264 BC). London: Routledge, 1995.

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                                                                                    Recent archaeological finds have helped to unravel the mysterious beginnings of Rome. Cornell puts together a compelling story exploring Roman origins and the series of conflicts it experienced after its birth.

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                                                                                    • Ferrill, Arther. Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1988.

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                                                                                      Many historians have tried to explain the fall of Rome, one of the most powerful empires in the world. Ferrill argues that the increased barbarianism and Germanic presence played crucial roles in the empire’s demise.

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                                                                                      • Pallottino, Massimo. The Etruscans. Rev. ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.

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                                                                                        In this revised and enlarged edition, Pallottino delves into the ancient culture of the Etruscans and provide insightful commentary on these ancestors of Rome. Beautiful illustrations of artifacts help bring this narrative to life.

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                                                                                        • Rich, John. “Fear, Greed and Glory: The Causes of Roman War-Making in the Middle Republic.” In War and Society in the Roman World. Edited by John Rich and Graham Shipley, 36–68. Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society 5. London: Routledge, 1995.

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                                                                                          Early warfare is examined as a social action and interesting insight is give on the effects of the social condition and ideology from war. This is a companion to War and Society in the Greek World (London: Routledge, 1995).

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                                                                                          • Roberts, Keith. The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                            Roberts follows the complex narrative of the rise of business and economics in the ancient world. Includes discussion of major industries, and sociopolitical determinants of each civilization are examined, focusing mainly on ancient Greece and Rome.

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                                                                                            • Wells, Peter S. Farms, Villages and Cities: Commerce and Urban Origins in Late Prehistoric Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                              A mix of economics and archaeology, this analysis of the formation of the first towns through the centuries to the Roman Republic gives interesting insight into the effects of urbanization.

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                                                                                              The Roman Publicani

                                                                                              These publican were operations were run by the knightly class—those with enough wealth and discipline to invest in and control businesses. These were the managers of Rome, and from the 4th century BCE on, the publican became powerful. Badian 1983 gives an in-depth analysis of the structure, origins, and the services of the important publicans. The Roman Senate held auctions and awarded contracts to equip the legions. It seemed that certain groups of publicans focused on different areas or industries, such as performing public works or fulfilling military contracts. Other groups focused on grazing, fishing, and mining rights. With this vast network of publicans, firms stayed lean and flexible, often forming partnerships to perform certain contracts and then disbanding after the work’s completion. Moore and Lewis 2009 examines the managerial offerings of the publicans and their connection to modern-day multinationals. The publicans often used very few permanent staff, relying instead on temporary workers as competition grew stiff and specialized knowledge did not allow for the flexibility that was needed. The growing pressures of the expanding economy and the uncertainties of war forced publicans to shift their model slightly. They began to internalize increasingly more processes due to the unstable environment and the need to reach a greater market. This led to the trend of large publican firms and the foreshadowing of modern multinationals.

                                                                                              • Badian, E. Publicans and Sinners: Private Enterprise in the Service of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                Beginning with a series of lectures, Badian takes readers through the creation of the publicans and their relationship with the public and private sides of commerce.

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                                                                                                • Moore, Karl, and David Lewis. The Origins of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                                                                  Origins is a masterful narrative of the evolution of the global economy and takes readers further back than many other investigations.

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