The Evolving Nature of Management Ideas in the 2020s Summary


Read the attached article . Create a summary of on what you see the 2020’s will hold. give reasons, examples for your answer.HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
Visualizing a Century of
Management Ideas
How HBR’s coverage has evolved over time. by Tejas Ramdas,
Raffaella Sadun, and Nicholas Bloom
Published on / September 19, 2022 / Reprint H07861
HBR Staff
Over the course of Harvard Business Review’s century-long life, its
articles have introduced leaders to new ideas and tools designed to
keep them on the cutting edge of running a successful business. During
this period, management has evolved from a relatively specialized trade
discipline to a field characterized by an ever-increasing ambition to
explain how organizations function and how they can be improved.
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
For the magazine’s 100th anniversary, we decided to take a close look
at the nature of HBR’s coverage during its history, paying particular
attention to patterns of change. The patterns we discerned, we felt,
might serve as a revealing and interesting proxy for how the theory
(and, to some extent, the practice) of management has changed during
the past century. In particular, by studying which topic areas gained or
lost traction over time, we hoped to shed some light on the evolving
nature of the challenges faced by managers across the decades. Which
managerial ideas have actually been most relevant for practice? Has the
set of “relevant” ideas evolved over time?
To perform our analysis, we first digitized every article that HBR
published from its first issue, in 1922, to the last issue of 2021 —
14,777 articles in all. We then employed machine-learning techniques,
statistical text analysis, and a healthy dose of our judgment to identify
significant management terms, grouping them into six managerial topic
areas: finance & accounting, human resources, marketing, operations,
organizations, and strategy. (For more detail on our methodology, see
here.) Together, these topic areas loosely correspond to the topics
taught in the classic MBA curriculum.
In analyzing our data, we observed distinct changes in emphasis over
the course of HBR’s history. We’ve illustrated those changes in this
animated time line. You can also see their evolution in the chart “A
Century of HBR Topics.”
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
See more HBR charts in Data & Visuals on
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
As these illustrations show, we found three main patterns in our
analysis: an early preponderance of language relating to finance &
accounting and operations, followed by a steady and gradual decline;
a steady and substantial increase in language relating to strategy and
marketing; and a persistent and substantial share of language relating to
organizations and human resources (HR).
These findings suggest that HBR has gradually shifted its focus away
from the tangible aspects of management, such as how to allocate
financial resources or organize production, and toward the intangible
ones, such as how to build a sustainable strategy or develop a
valuable customer experience. This pattern is consistent with what
other scholars have found when studying the evolution of management
ideas in the past century. In studies published in HBR and elsewhere,
scholars have documented the growing demand for leaders with strong
social skills (as opposed to just technical, administrative, and financial
expertise) and the increasingly important role that intangibles are
playing as drivers of value creation at the macroeconomic level.
We also found that HBR’s coverage fell into three main chronological
periods. In its first few decades, the magazine focused most of its
attention on concepts relevant to manufacturing and other large,
capital-intensive industries and on the financial, operational, and
organizational challenges they present. Aspects of management relating
to the workforce came to the fore in the 1940s, as did the subject of
collective bargaining, reflecting the growing importance of unions in
mediating this relationship. Key terms during this period, and their
corresponding categories, include:
1920s: Cost accounting (finance & accounting); industrial relations
(organizations); inventory control, mass production (operations)
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
1930s: Capital structure (finance & accounting); brand (marketing)
1940s: Human resources (human resources); collective bargaining
From the 1950s to the 1970s, HBR gradually shifted its attention toward
new aspects of production — notably quality control — and began to
focus on organizational structure, possibly reflecting the importance
of conglomerates. The magazine’s focus on HR also evolved, with
more coverage of how firms could relate to employees rather than to
organized labor. In the 1960s and 1970s in particular, important new
topics emerged in personnel management, finance, and technology. Key
terms, and their corresponding categories, include:
1950s: Interpersonal relationships (human resources); organizational
structure (organizations); quality control (operations); customer
behavior (marketing)
1960s: Performance appraisal (human resources); options (finance &
1970s: Corporate governance (finance & accounting); information
systems (operations)
In recent decades (the 1980s to 2021), HBR trained its attention on
competition and strategy (especially in the 1980s) and on customercentric marketing ideas. In the 1990s a new focus arose on the role
of innovation, especially disruptive innovation, and on new structured
managerial approaches to maximizing operational effectiveness and
control, among them Six Sigma and the balanced scorecard. Similar
trends were apparent in the 2000s and 2010s, with new managerial
frameworks for strategy coming into play. Both marketing and
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
innovation as a form of strategic differentiation grew consistently in
importance. Key terms, and their corresponding categories, include:
1980s: Customer satisfaction, marketing strategy (marketing);
competitive advantage, strategic management, strategic planning
1990s: Balanced scorecard (finance & accounting); Six Sigma
(operations); disruptive innovation, core competency (strategy); market
segmentation (marketing)
2000s: Risk management (finance & accounting); value chain, blue
ocean strategy (strategy)
2010s: Customer experience (marketing); open innovation, value
proposition (strategy)
Of note in this time line is a gradual increase in HBR’s coverage of
marketing over the years and the explosive emergence of strategy.
We also see coverage moving away from generic topics and toward
specific managerial frameworks and ideas — for example, from mass
production to Six Sigma in operations, from cost accounting to the
balanced scorecard in finance & accounting, and from brand to market
segmentation in marketing. One way to interpret these changes is
that HBR, and perhaps the management discussion more broadly,
has increasingly shifted its attention toward pragmatic ideas with
immediate applicability within organizations.
It’s likely that many factors have helped bring about this shift.
Organizations have grown bigger, more diverse, and more complex,
requiring different kinds of leadership and management. New
technologies have arrived, changing how and where work can be done.
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HBR / The Big Idea / Visualizing a Century of Management Ideas
The role of managers has changed dramatically. And management
science itself has matured: Many of the financial and operational
questions that once dominated the attention of leaders and scholars are
now, for better or for worse, perceived to be less topical. In their place
have arisen new questions, such as how best to adapt to organizational
complexity, globalization, the diversification of the workforce, and the
advent of remote work.
As HBR moves into its second century, we look forward to finding out
what guidance it will offer companies and leaders as they grapple with
these questions, and others that have yet to come to the fore.
This article builds on ongoing work conducted with Michael B.
Christensen, M.J. Yang, and Jan Rivkin.
This article was originally published online on September 19, 2022.
Tejas Ramdas is a PhD candidate in statistics and management at
Cornell University.
Raffaella Sadun is the Charles E. Wilson professor of business
administration at Harvard Business School.
Nicholas Bloom is a professor of economics at Stanford University.
Copyright © 2022 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved.
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