Being efficient versus becoming efficient: The evolution of efficiency in popular management books
LE3 .A278 2015
Bachelor of Business Administration
Throughout the twentieth century organizations have striven to be perfectly efficient; usually by searching for the one best way to achieve organizational goals. Various prescriptions for how to be efficient or how to achieve increased efficiency in organizational work have been repeated numerous times and in numerous ways in many popular management books. Bestselling texts that are so well received often become management fads and fashions de jour. The aim of this research was to trace the concept of efficiency as expressed in the most popular management books over the last century. More specifically, the aim was to investigate and assess whether managerial notions of efficiency have changed or remained constant; whether efficiency’s perceived importance in management practices has varied; or whether there has been a convergence towards one dominant management conceptualization or another. The historical tracing of these texts informs us that efficiency needs to be considered as socially constructed and multi-dimensional. While efficiency has been portrayed at various times as a concept, a notion, a rationale, a factor, or as an outcome or result, most managerial writing on efficiency describes the concept in terms of one or more of the dimensions of time, cost, ratios, or of resources. The findings also indicate that the only consistent and stable element of managerial conceptualizations was the desire to improve and to be or do better. This result tells us that it is more appropriate to view efficiency as a journey rather than a destination, a managerial process rather than an outcome.
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