Mintzberg on management and strategy

22 July 2004

Yesterday, in MGMT 101–organisation and management, I was laying out some of the territory that the class (and I, I suppose) will be covering in the coming weeks. For whatever reason1, much of the course is structured around PLOC2; planning, leading, organising, and controlling. As I pointed out in class, this is not an accurate description of what managers do. I mentioned that since the 1970s we (academics) have had a much richer view of the work of managers. In fact, I was alluding to the early (earliest) work of Henry Mintzberg3.

Anyway,as I was reading today, I came across a nice introductionary article to Henry Mintzberg. It’s well worth reading by stage I students, and is called:

de Holan, P. M., & Mintzberg, H. (2004). Management as life’s essence: 30 years of The nature of managerial work. Strategic Organization, 2(2), 205–212.

Additional, the article shows the serendipitous way in which new management ideas are ‘discovered’ and how they rise to prominence. There is a link here for later–in future we’ll talk about In search of excellence, by Peters & Waterman. At that time, remember to ask why the book was so successful. Henry also makes a point of saying how hard it is to teach management to those people who aren’t managers–he is so right. Until you’ve been there it doesn’t make much sense. Management is a practice (in Turner’s sense) more than it is a science (or even an art), and so there is a significant element of management that is tacit (as there is in most parts of social life).


Inkson, K., & Kolb, D. G. (2002). Management: Perspectives for New Zealand (3rd ed.). Auckland: Pearson Education.

Peters, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row.

Turner, S. P. (1994). The social theory of practices: Tradition, tacit knowledge and presuppositions. Cambridge: Polity Press.

ICANZ put on institutions about the content that wanabe accountants have to be exposed to.

& Kolb, 2003–but I dont’ think it explains how he debunked the myth of the manager spending her/his time

  1. Well, a good part has to do with the requirement that [return]
  2. Mintzberg is mentioned quiet early on in the textbook–Inkson [return]
  3. Which of course is based around Henri Fayol’s ideas of planning, organising, commanding, co-ordinating, and controlling–the commanding was reinvented as leading, and co-ordinating became organising.