chapter  9
23 Pages

The Institutionalization of Industrial Administration in Norway 1950-90 - Consequences for education in business administration of domination by engineering

It has now become common wisdom that there is a link between management practice and the culture of a given society. There have, however, been few studies that deal with the way in which educational institutions shape industrial administration (Fligstein and Byrkjeflot 1996). This may be due to the strong influence of neo-classical economic thought, in which the education system in itself does not matter because, in the last instance, it is shaped by the economy. Managers are understood to be calculators responding to market stimulus, and also in their search for new managerial recruits and their demand for education. In the current wave of cross-national cultural studies, on the other hand, managers and educational systems are presumably pre-programmed by a given society's culture (Hofstede 1993; Lessem and Neubauer 1994). This sudden jump from economic determinism to culturalism seems unfortunate. In the authors' view, there ought to be a relationship between the patterns of recruitment and qualification in management - what managers actually do, and what kind of industrial structures and strategies emerge in a given geographical area. Knowledge-producing institutions matter because they influence and shape the groups and personalities that are recruited to the executive positions; because of their impact on the way in which they interpret their own activities; and thus also how they legitimate what they do when confronted with opposition or insecurity.