chapter  7
17 Pages

Management Education in Britain - A compromise between culture and necessity

The principal purposes of this chapter are: first, to provide an insight into the reasons for the establishment of the first business school in Britain, at Manchester University in 1965; second, to explain how up to the mid 1980s it coped with a business culture which, as Turner describes above, was generally loath to accept the need for academic management education (Wilson 1992); and third, to link this story with the performance of Britain's economy. British business and industrial history reveals inherent weaknesses in managerial techniques and structure, and one of the main reasons for these problems must have been the way in which key personnel were recruited and trained. This provides a good reason for tracing the history of Manchester Business School (MBS), because it is possible to demonstrate in graphic form how this environment moulded the methods employed to convince senior executives of the need to change their methods. It is also possible to extend this analysis into a general study of the relevance of management education, because while the British (and American) university system was instructed to provide this form of teaching as a means of improving industrial competitiveness, in Japan no such relationship has been envisaged, begging the important question about the need for management education. American business schools have also recently been heavily criticized for an alleged failure to produce the right type of managers for the competitive challenges of the last generation, pointing to the need for a detailed debate about the role of education and training. In the British context, the establishment of business schools did not solve any of the inherent managerial and organizational weaknesses in the industrial sector,


and rather than slavishly imitating the Americans an alternative might have been tried which would have come closer to the Japanese system.