Abstract: Management Innovation, a Genealogical Perspective: The Case of Drucker's Management by Objectives and Self Control

Albert David


One could think that Peter Drucker's invention of Management by Objectives and Self Control (MBO) and its first implementation at General Electric in 1952 was a breakthrough in management techniques. Analyzing the history of MBO from a genealogical perspective, and taking into account Drucker's own intellectual trajectory, we suggest a different perspective: MBO is the logical signature of the multidivisional structure; it takes its roots in the "systematic management" movement initiated by Du Pont at the end of the nineteenth century and it also represents Drucker's attempt to reconcile corporatism and bureaucracy. Elaborating from Drucker's invention of MBO, we discuss the reasons why MBO and similar large-scale management techniques correspond to systematic design regimes, while the very process of their invention seems to be, on the contrary, the realm of a design regime much closer to "bricolage."