Twilight of the gurus

25. April 2015

Date: 23-04-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

The management-pundit industry is a shadow of its former self

IT IS customary nowadays for management gurus to preach that competition is fiercer than ever. Rita McGrath of Columbia Business School talks about “the end of competitive advantage”. Richard D’Aveni of the Tuck School of Business refers to “hypercompetition”. Ram Charan, a consultant and writer on management, lauds “The Attacker’s Advantage”.

Yet the management-guru industry itself seems remarkably stable. Competitive advantage is strikingly enduring, competition is far from “hyper” and the defender has the upper hand. The latest two “Thinkers50” rankings of the world’s leading management pundits, published in 2011 and 2013, show no change at the top, with Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School and the duo of Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD ranking first and second respectively. Two of the most prominent business books of the past few months have been retreads rather than new publications with new ideas: the tenth-anniversary edition of Mr Kim’s and Ms Mauborgne’s “Blue Ocean Strategy” and the 20th-anniversary edition of Don Tapscott’s “The Digital Economy”. It is a far cry from the glory years of the 1980s and 1990s, when “In Search of Excellence”, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, sold 3m copies in its first four years and “Re-engineering the Corporation”, by James Champy and Michael Hammer, touched off a global re-engineering craze. Read the rest of this entry »