Modern Management

Topics: Slavery, Management, Slavery in the United States Pages: 5 (1706 words) Published: September 19, 2013
Assignment 1.2: Modern Management
Lee Dale Foley
Jones International University
August 16, 2011


Today, individuals are sometimes naïve to believe that modern management is a result of recent practices, theories, and ideas. Some believe the general structure of management and how human resources are carefully planned is the direct result of today’s contributors. They are erroneous to believe such. This commentary will explore the histories of management while cultivating the reader concerning the development of modern management and supervision as it is the result of the evolution of management that began in the nineteenth century involving slavery, railroads, and legal issues.

Assignment 1.2 – Development of Modern Management
Modern management has a distinctive composition consisting of managers, administrative practices, personnel, and capital. Many individuals are naïve in their perception of today’s management believing it is a direct result of recent practices, theories, and concepts; however, historians argue differently. Historians have taken readers on a journey through the history of management, while educating people concerning the management of slaves, railroads, and legal issues – the pillars of modern-day management. Slavery

“American slavery has been wrongfully excluded from histories of management. By 1860, when the historical orthodoxy has modern management emerging on the railroads, 38,000 managers were managing the 4 million slaves working in the US economy.” (Cooke, 2003) Slave trade greatly influenced the management era. Slaves were responsible for farming, construction, irrigation, housekeeping, child-care, cooking, and much more. This surplus of human resources and capital required managers which eventually led divisions of management. Slave owners hired managers to supervise the slaves while wives oftentimes supervised slaves who worked as housekeepers and cooks. Managers were responsible for setting the expectations of the slaves and their respective daily duties. Slave owners oftentimes delegated authority and responsibilities to the manager who in-turn commanded the workers. Although slave management contributed to modern management practices, it has not been viewed by many historians to be a form of management. “Throughout the era of slavery the Negro was treated in a very inhuman fashion. He was considered a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. He was merely a depersonalized cog in a vast plantation machine.” (Cooke, 2003) The treatment of slaves and the criticism of such behavior as seen today have led many individuals to overlook slave management as a contribution to modern principles and ideas. Many historians prefer to give more credit to the railroads. “Of course, such a history would equally challenge any version of the history of management which explicitly or otherwise excludes slavery.” (Cooke, 2003) Slavery brought about new and innovative ideas regarding human resources. Slaves worked the plantations, which sometimes were hundreds of acres, and they were managed by individuals designated by the owner. Managing slaves required a great deal of time management, conflict resolution, capital expenditures, and even slave trading. “The chain of command went upwards from drivers to overseers to masters. Always there was obedience.” (Cooke, 2003) The management of slaves required a chain of command to be operational. Slaves answered to their overseer and overseers answered to their masters. This form of organizational structure allowed for delegation, communication, and duties to flow smoothly. In comparison, modern management structure is quite similar in nature. For example, McDonalds franchise has such a structure. For example, crew members are tasked with the job of handling customer orders, cooking, and cleaning and they answer to a shift leader. The shift leader is responsible for ensuring the crew works diligently and effectively. The shift leader...

References: Chandler, A. D. (1965). The railroads: Pioneers in modern corporate management. The Business
History Review, 39(1), 16-40.
Cooke, B. (2003). The denial of slavery in management studies. Journal of Management Studies,
40(8), 1895-1918.
Tomlins, C. L. (1988). The mysterious power: Industrial accidents and the legal construction of
employment relations in Massachusetts, 1800-1850. Law and History Review, 6(2), 375-438.
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