The attractiveness of US management methods is largely due to the uncontested strength of American companies during much of the twentieth century. American business methods also projected the American business schools internationally, infecting the business schools in rest of the world. This is how the teaching of US management permeated management practices in other contexts, under the doubtful premise that “what worked well in the US should do well elsewhere”.
As it turned out, the US people management model that matched specialized skills and job descriptions created a national market for labor in America. This increased the mobility of people, which undermined community ties, including those that gave rise to trade unions. Weakened unions allowed the export of workplaces to countries with lower costs at the expense of the labor share of income in the US, whose distribution became more concentrated. Currently, there is no increase in wages though the US is close to full employment1.
The compression suffered by the American middle-class led to frustration to the point of increases in deaths from despair2 with the social dysfunction also being expressed in mass killings even at schools3, besides other uncontested signs of growing dissatisfaction with the fraying of the American social fabric4. The new context of frustration, not be dissociated from the management for production, gave way to an important nativist movement5. Nativism promotes not only xenophobia, but also a withdrawal from the global role of the United States, to the point that it has distanced itself from its traditional allies in the Americas, Europe, and in Asia. Perhaps, the main long-term consequence of the new nativist American stance is the increasing erosion of its soft power: the US is losing its ability to inspire6.
The resumption of the intellectual independence in the business schools of the peripheral countries will allow the emergence of new people management strategies that are better attuned to their cultures
I imagine that the loss of the American attractiveness will soon permeate business schools in peripheral countries. This backdrop will lead to a reconsideration of the pertinence of continuing to manage people in countries where the US methods never attained similar performance. The resumption of the intellectual independence in the business schools of the peripheral countries will allow the emergence of a new management of people better attuned to their cultures.
I believe we will develop a less impersonal management of people with a better acceptance of paternalistic leadership and that the selection of people will focus more on staff selection through affinities rather than the strong emphasis on competencies, promoting a faster integration of work teams while giving greater emphasis to the development of skills through on-the-job training. Teams that are more independent will allow a stronger role for coaching by charismatic leaders of a paternalistic bend. Organizations will be characterized by the greater role of more effective self-managed work teams, perhaps even with greater autonomy in the management of their resources. Eventually, this will facilitate outsourcing and I would not be surprised if the new business organizations in the periphery will look more like ecosystems: federations of independent companies, each with a greater degree of internal cohesion because their employees will enjoy a greater sense of purpose, belonging, and identification.
To shape these ideas, business schools in the peripheral countries should seek inspiration not so much from business schools in the core countries but from successful local organizations. There is a wide range of them delivering exceptional quality at low costs without ever having seen a professional with an MBA degree. I have in mind organizations as diverse as the samba schools in Brazil and the Dabbawalas of Mumbai7, among others, like the Jain diamond traders of Gujarat. All these organizations deliver globally recognized products by organizing themselves in alignment with their local cultures; hence, their high productivity and happiness at work. It is about time business schools in the periphery learn from their own people.
- Quart, 2018
- Case & Deaton 2016
- CNN, 2017
- Putnam, 2001, Murray, 2012, Putnam, 2016
- Friedman, 2017
- Byman, 2018
- Behrens, Singh & Bhandarker, 2016