Latest update is the detail of Chris McKenna’s session. For the first time, he is running a session combining both of his specialisms – business history and professional firms, specifically consultants in this instance.
This is what he promises:
The American writer Mark Twain once famously observed that “history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” This session will consider the “rhymes” of history through the development of management consulting as a professional field and the evolution of the modern economy from the first industrial revolution to the present. Of the leading business professions, consulting is perhaps the youngest yet arguably the most influential because of its role not only in legitimating corporate practices but also in carrying knowledge around the world. Industrial revolutions, economists argue, have had a similar economic influence as technology, business practices, and markets have spread globally through the diffusion of best practices (in part through the use of consultants). Just what can we learn from the founding of the first management consulting firms in the United States in the 1930s for the future of the profession of consulting and what parallels can we see in the broader shift from agriculture to industry to services over the past 250 years in the evolution of the world economy?
As a teacher of strategy in Oxford, Chris McKenna brings the perspective of a corporate historian to bear on questions of long-range planning by uniting the study of the past with the strategic concerns of the present. Though no-one can predict the future, finding patterns (or at least rhymes) in the past is a an invaluable way to understand the present and to think about possible scenarios in the future. Or, as McKenna says, “using yesterday’s technologies to solve tomorrow’s problems, today.” As organisations explode, what will replace them and who will guide their reconstruction? To answer that question, we need to know what is without precedence and what we already know — those “known knowns” and “known unknowns” will be our topic for the morning session.
Christopher McKenna, Reader in Business History & Strategy, Said Business School, University of Oxford
[Author of “The World’s Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century” (A Financial Times Book of the Year for 2006)]
See the complete agenda of the conference here.
For tCLers, CCC alumni and CCC faculty: get the latest news through our LinkedIn group and check our latest mailing to find out how to book, if you haven’t done yet.