Established management practices – such as Six Sigma or business process re-engineering, as well as more recent practices such as agile management processes, HR analytics and beyond budgeting – are viewed by practitioners as the basic tools of their trade. Yet they have been known to wax and wane in popularity, often quite unpredictably, with one technique following the other in wave-like fashion. The scholarly observation of this phenomenon has given rise to the literature on fads and fashions in management studies, which – building on earlier work in allied disciplines – has sought to explain the transience, persistence, and overall trajectory of management practices. In this paper, we review and integrate the existing literature on management fads and fashions, taking stock of the sizable body of work that has accumulated over the past three decades and which has, to our knowledge, never been reviewed comprehensively before. At the same time, we also note that technological change – with the advent of social media and the ubiquity of Internet connectivity, for example – has radically transformed how practitioners seek, consume, and engage with new practices, as well as the way in which such practices are broadcast and diffuse. In our review, therefore, we try to make this well-established body of literature current by explicitly discussing how well its central tenets and theoretical arguments have stood the test of time, and propose useful directions for moving forward.
International Journal of Management Researchvol.
22, (April 08, 2020):