Management fashion setters disseminate management fashions, transitory collective beliefs that certain management techniques are at the forefront of management progress. These fashion setters-consulting firms, management gurus, business mass-media publications, and business schools-do not simply force fashions onto gullible managers. To sustain their images as fashion setters, they must lead in a race (a) to sense the emergent collective preferences of managers for new management techniques, (b) to develop rhetorics that describe these techniques as the forefront of management progress, and (c) to disseminate these rhetorics back to managers and organizational stakeholders before other fashion setters. Fashion setters who fall behind in this race (e.g., business schools or certain scholarly professional societies) are condemned to be perceived as lagging rather than leading management progress, as peripheral to the business community, and as undeserving of societal support. This article is not a plea for business school scholars to become slaves to management fashion. Rather, it urges these scholars not only to study the management-fashion-setting process and to explain when and how it fails to serve shareholders, employees, managers, students, and other stakeholders, but also to intervene in this process in order to render it a more technically useful, collective learning process for these stakeholders.
The Academy of Management Reviewvol.
21, (January 01, 1996):