The term management fad is used to characterize a change in philosophy or operations that sweeps through businesses and institutions. Some fads may become established aspects of business, sustaining themselves over several years. Others may disappear when initial enthusiasm wanes.
The appraisal that a management theory or practice is a "management fad" is subjective, and the term is usually used in a pejorative sense. Several authors have argued that new management ideas should be subject to greater critical analysis, and for the need for greater conceptual awareness of new ideas by managers.
The following theories and practices appeared on a list of management fashions and fads compiled by Adrian Furnham, who arranged them in rough chronological order by their date of appearance, 1950s to 1990s:
- Management by objectives
- Matrix management
- Theory Z
- One-minute management
- Management by walking around
- Total quality management
- 360-degree feedback
Other theories and practices which have been tagged by some observers as fads include:
- ^ Christensen, Clayton M. and Michael E. Raynor, "Why Hard-Nosed Executives Should Care About Management Theory," Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81, No. 9, Sept. 2003, pp. 66-74.
- ^ Furnham, Adrian, Management and Myths: Challenging Business Fads, Fallacies and Fashions, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, U.K., 2004, p. 17.
- Crainer, Stuart and Des Dearlove, “Whatever Happened to Yesterday's Bright Ideas?,” Across the Board, Vol. 43, No. 3, May/June 2006, pp. 34-40.
- Malone, Michael S., “A Way Too Short History of Fads,” Forbes, Vol. 159, No. 7, April 7, 1997 (ASAP supplement).
- Paul, Annie Murphy, “I Feel Your Pain,” Forbes, Vol. 174, No. 13, Dec. 27, 2004, p. 38.
- Strang, David and Michael W. Macy, "In Search of Excellence: Fads, Success Stories, and Adaptive Emulation," American Journal of Sociology, July 2001, Vol. 107, No. 1, pp. 147-182.
- Wilson, T.D., "The Nonsense of 'Knowledge Management'," Information Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, Oct. 2002, paper no. 144. [Available at http://Informationr.net/ir/8-1/paper144.html]
- Ponzi, Leonard J. and Michael Koenig, "Knowledge Management: Another Management Fad?," Information Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, Oct. 2002, paper no. 145. [Available at http://informationr.net/ir/8-1/paper145.html]
For a critique of the practice of branding new management ideas as fads, see
- Collins, David, "The Branding of Management Knowledge: Rethinking Management 'Fads’," Journal of Organizational Change Management, 2003, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 186-204.
- Collins, David, "The Fad Motif in Management Scholarship," Employee Relations, Vol. 23, No. 1, Feb. 2001, pp. 26-37.
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