Editorial: Rhetoric or Revolution

Management magazine regularly reports from the front lines of the organisational revolution. Reports of the battle generally cover the progress of ongoing skirmishes that deliver small advance in thinking here or tactical competitive advantage there. Only occasionally does the revolution flare up into anything like open warfare – battle between deep-rooted ideologies, such as the conflict between capitalist and communist economies for instance. Now and then, however, analysis of collection of dispatches signals turning point or the approach of campaign that will change the way in which we manage the future. Our role then is to draw the strands together, make the connections and describe the forces that are shaping our world. We asked regular Management writer Vicki Jayne to explain the relevance of activities that suggest the approach of sea change in management thinking.

When does rhetoric become revolution? Presumably when new philosophies gain sufficient currency to sway prevailing opinion. If so, is the waning influence of the liberal market philosophies of the Business Roundtable and accelerating conversion to the teachings of the Business Council for Sustainable Development an important straw in the wind? It certainly means “industry captains no longer put their commercial credibility at risk by uttering business and social responsibility in the same sentence”, reports Jayne in her cover story this month. The shift from shareholder priority to stakeholder interest is changing management priorities and reshaping business. There isn’t any doubt about that. The issue is, how profound will this sea change be? When social commentators look back on this period of time in say 50 or 60 years will they see it as “turning point in history when there was fundamental shift in business philosophy”, as one business leader predicts?
The other important stories in this issue, which pick up on the themes associated with changing management and personal priorities, include our coverage of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Awards, and Adèle Gautier’s conversations with 10 leading women who talk about their lives and their evolving ambitions. It is all designed to give managers plenty to think about.

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