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Managerialism and the Demise of the Big Three


  • Locke, Robert


This essay is about the crisis of US automobile management and the difficulties that management educators and practitioners in America have had facing up to that crisis. It focuses on Detroit’s Big Three but it also looks at the role Japanese firms played in transferring JMS (Japanese Management Systems) to America, particularly the transfer of TPS (the Toyota Production System) to Georgetown, Kentucky. It opens (I) with a discussion of the triumph of a science-based “New Paradigm” in business school management education and in industry, with reference to its critics, in order to establish the institutional framework within which US automobile management expanded and operated after World War II; then (II) a more general discussion ensues in which U.S. managerialism and JMS are compared, and the pathways and barriers to the transfer of JMS to America both to US firms and to Japanese transplants are explored, before in the last part (III) the focus narrows to a specific case of transfer: H. Thomas Johnson’s analysis of Toyota’s successful alternative Production System (TPS) at Georgetown and how it supersedes in theory and practice the managerial methods of the Big Three.

Suggested Citation

  • Locke, Robert, 2009. "Managerialism and the Demise of the Big Three," MPRA Paper 18996, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:18996

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 18, pages 315-341 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Chandler, Alfred D. & Redlich, Fritz, 1961. "Recent Developments in American Business Administration and their Conceptualization," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(01), pages 1-27, March.
    3. J.-C. Spender, 2007. "Structural Adjustments and Conflicting Recipes in the US Auto Industry," Chapters,in: Social Innovations, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christine Doran, 2016. "Managerialism: An Ideology and its Evolution," International Journal of Management, Knowledge and Learning, International School for Social and Business Studies, Celje, Slovenia, vol. 5(1), pages 81-97.
    2. Shanti Chakravarty & Anthony Dobbins & Lynn Hodgkinson, 2013. "Poverty of Agency Theory and Poverty of Managerial Practice: The Royal Bank of Scotland Fiasco," Working Papers 13013, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).

    More about this item


    Japan; USA; auto industry; General Motors; Ford; Honda; Toyota; managerialism;

    JEL classification:

    • N8 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History
    • N60 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - General, International, or Comparative

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