The management of corporate culture is explored through a series of reflections upon literature that has fashioned and addressed this field. Specifically, the article considers the motivation, key elements and continuing relevance of the critique made in "Strength is Ignorance; Slavery is Freedom" (Willmott, 1993) where, by pointing to their incipient totalitarianism, the ethics of "Excellence" philosophies and their culture change programmes were questioned. The analysis offered in "Strength" is shown to have continuing relevance for the contemporary examination of developments characterised as "post-bureaucracy"; and this claim is illustrated by reference to current pronouncements on "The End of Management".
Note: This article revisits a piece by Hugh Willmott originally published in the Journal of Management Studies (JMS) in 1993. To mark the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Management Studies, Blackwell Publishing have offered us the opportunity to republish the original piece.
The JMS was established in 1963 to publish innovative, novel and rigorous papers that advance conceptual and empirical knowledge and address practice in the broad area of management. The Journal has always adopted an inclusive stance by welcoming contributions from a whole range of perspectives. The only proviso is that that each author should maintain congruity within his or her own ontological, epistemological and methodological positions in the conduct and reporting of research. In this way JMS has established a reputation as a leading general management journal by publishing papers that contribute significantly to the development of discipline as a whole.
"This paper represents the guiding principles of JMS. It is high quality, rigorous, theoretically sophisticated and tells us something new about a topic that perhaps was previously taken for granted. It has become a citation classic. The paper by Hugh Willmott subjects the assumptions and prescriptions of 'corporate culture' (a central theme of organisation studies at the time) to critical scrutiny. I trust that readers of M@n@gement will find it insightful whilst being struck by its continuing power and elegance."
Timothy Clark, General Editor, JMS