The Modern Churchman

Mystical Management: A Religious Critique of General Management in the Public Sector

The Modern Churchman (1991), 33, (3), 17–27.

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For more on critical practical theology, which I take to be the study of and formulation of action guiding metaphors and principles, see D. Browning, Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care, Fortress Press, 1983; ed., Practical Theology, Harper and Row, 1983. Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care Google Scholar

I have adapted this title, and taken my direction to some extent here, from P. Halmos, The Faith of the Counsellors, Constable, 1965. The Faith of the Counsellors Google Scholar

See further, D. Martin, A Sociology of English Religion, Heinemann, 1967. A Sociology of English Religion Google Scholar

For the influence of Christian values on the welfare state see, e.g., D. B. Forrester, Christianity and the Future of the Welfare State, Epworth, 1985. Christianity and the Future of the Welfare State Google Scholar

C. Geertz, ‘Religion as a Cultural System’, quoted in R. Cooter, The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science, Cambridge University Press, 1984, p.368, n.86. The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science 368 Google Scholar

L. Kolakowski, Religion, Fontana, 1982, for example, argues that worship must play a part in any religion worthy of the name. Religion Google Scholar

Cooter, op. cit., p. 190. Google Scholar

P. Strong and J. Robinson, The NHS Under New Management, Open University Press, 1990, p.3. Emphasis mine. The NHS Under New Management 3 Google Scholar

Ibid, p. 165. Emphasis mine. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.187. Emphasis mine. Google Scholar

For a characterisation of sectarian views and attitudes see, eg, M. Hill, The Sociology of Religion, Heinemann, 1973, chs.3 and 4, especially pp.77f. See also, B. Wilson, Religion in Secular Society, Penguin, 1969, ch.11. The Sociology of Religion 77f Google Scholar

R. Stewart, ‘Studies of management jobs and behaviour: the ways forward’, Journal of Management Studies 26, 1989, 1-9; D. Rea, ‘A jolt for the apple cart’, Health Service Journal, 7th Sept. 1989, 1104. ‘Studies of management jobs and behaviour: the ways forward’ Journal of Management Studies 26 1 9 Google Scholar

For such tracts see, eg, M. Edwardes, Back from the Brink, Pan, 1984; J. Harvey-Jones, Making it Happen, Collins, 1987. Back from the Brink Google Scholar

Cf. J. Rifkin, The Emerging Order, Ballantine Books, 1983. It is interesting to note that a whole section in T. J. Peters and R. H. Waterman, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best Companies, Harper and Row, 1982, is entitled ‘The Saving Remnant’, evoking the theology of the Old Testament. Cf Hill's observation of sects: ‘the self-concept is of an elect, gathered remnant with special enlightenment (Hill, op. cit., p.78).’ The Emerging Order Google Scholar

Cf H. Young, One of Us, Pan, 1990. One of Us Google Scholar

Peters and Waterman, op. cit. Google Scholar

Cf Peters and Waterman, op. cit. Cf also S. Leach and J. Stewart, Approaches to Public Policy Making, Allen and Unwin, 1982 for a discussion of rational planning. Google Scholar

Peters and Waterman, op. cit. ch.2. I am aware of leaning very heavily on this one text in the present context. There are, of course, many different and some more complex texts in this area. However, it seems to be that the popularity of this book indicates the general acceptance and assimilation of ideas like those of Peters and Waterman in the public sector. It is perhaps the most overtly evangelical tract with the most religious overtones within the serious management literature. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.37. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.29. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.xxv. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.74. Google Scholar

See further, Strong and Robinson, op. cit., ch.11. A. MacIntyre, After Virtue, Duckworth, 1982, challenges management effectives as a metaphysical value which functions rather like God: 'I am suggesting that ‘managerial effectiveness’ functions much as Carnap and Ayer supposed ‘God’ to function. It is the name of a fictitious, but believed-in reality, appeal to which disguises certain other realities; its effective use is expressive (op. cit., p.73).' Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Walter Principe, quoted in U. King, Women and Spirituality, Macmillan, 1989, p.6. Google Scholar

Cf, eg, S. McFague, Metaphorical Theology, SCM Press, 1983. Metaphorical Theology Google Scholar

For more on metaphors and their crucial importance in shaping world views, secondary meanings, etc, see G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago University Press, 1979. Metaphors We Live By Google Scholar

For more on how language shapes and determines the reality of the world in which we live and affects, therefore, their fundamental orientation to life see, eg, R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989; D. Cupitt, The Long-Legged Fly, SCM Press, 1987. One of the very few management texts which draws and points up the limits of metaphors is G. Morgan, Images of Organisation, Sage, 1986. Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Google Scholar

See Strong and Robinson, op. cit., ch.2. Google Scholar

For descriptions and analysis of the decline of the post war welfare state consensus see, eg, Forrester, op. cit., R. Klein, The Politics of the National Health Service, Longman, 1983. Google Scholar

For more on the critical, ironical stance see Rorty, op. cit. Google Scholar

For more on the ‘spirit’ of organisations see W. Wink, Unmasking the Powers, Fortress Press, 1986. Unmasking the Powers Google Scholar

For more on religious and ethical activity as artistic performance see Cupitt, op. cit. There are some resonances with this in relation to creative managerial authority in C. Handy, The Age of Unreason, Hutchinson, 1989. Google Scholar

For more on critical practical theology, which I take to be the study of and formulation of action guiding metaphors and principles, see D. Browning, Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care, Fortress Press, 1983; ed., Practical Theology, Harper and Row, 1983. Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care Google Scholar

I have adapted this title, and taken my direction to some extent here, from P. Halmos, The Faith of the Counsellors, Constable, 1965. The Faith of the Counsellors Google Scholar

See further, D. Martin, A Sociology of English Religion, Heinemann, 1967. A Sociology of English Religion Google Scholar

For the influence of Christian values on the welfare state see, e.g., D. B. Forrester, Christianity and the Future of the Welfare State, Epworth, 1985. Christianity and the Future of the Welfare State Google Scholar

C. Geertz, ‘Religion as a Cultural System’, quoted in R. Cooter, The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science, Cambridge University Press, 1984, p.368, n.86. The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science 368 Google Scholar

L. Kolakowski, Religion, Fontana, 1982, for example, argues that worship must play a part in any religion worthy of the name. Religion Google Scholar

Cooter, op. cit., p. 190. Google Scholar

P. Strong and J. Robinson, The NHS Under New Management, Open University Press, 1990, p.3. Emphasis mine. The NHS Under New Management 3 Google Scholar

Ibid, p. 165. Emphasis mine. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.187. Emphasis mine. Google Scholar

For a characterisation of sectarian views and attitudes see, eg, M. Hill, The Sociology of Religion, Heinemann, 1973, chs.3 and 4, especially pp.77f. See also, B. Wilson, Religion in Secular Society, Penguin, 1969, ch.11. The Sociology of Religion 77f Google Scholar

R. Stewart, ‘Studies of management jobs and behaviour: the ways forward’, Journal of Management Studies 26, 1989, 1-9; D. Rea, ‘A jolt for the apple cart’, Health Service Journal, 7th Sept. 1989, 1104. ‘Studies of management jobs and behaviour: the ways forward’ Journal of Management Studies 26 1 9 Google Scholar

For such tracts see, eg, M. Edwardes, Back from the Brink, Pan, 1984; J. Harvey-Jones, Making it Happen, Collins, 1987. Back from the Brink Google Scholar

Cf. J. Rifkin, The Emerging Order, Ballantine Books, 1983. It is interesting to note that a whole section in T. J. Peters and R. H. Waterman, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best Companies, Harper and Row, 1982, is entitled ‘The Saving Remnant’, evoking the theology of the Old Testament. Cf Hill's observation of sects: ‘the self-concept is of an elect, gathered remnant with special enlightenment (Hill, op. cit., p.78).’ The Emerging Order Google Scholar

Cf H. Young, One of Us, Pan, 1990. One of Us Google Scholar

Peters and Waterman, op. cit. Google Scholar

Cf Peters and Waterman, op. cit. Cf also S. Leach and J. Stewart, Approaches to Public Policy Making, Allen and Unwin, 1982 for a discussion of rational planning. Google Scholar

Peters and Waterman, op. cit. ch.2. I am aware of leaning very heavily on this one text in the present context. There are, of course, many different and some more complex texts in this area. However, it seems to be that the popularity of this book indicates the general acceptance and assimilation of ideas like those of Peters and Waterman in the public sector. It is perhaps the most overtly evangelical tract with the most religious overtones within the serious management literature. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.37. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.29. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.xxv. Google Scholar

Ibid, p.74. Google Scholar

See further, Strong and Robinson, op. cit., ch.11. A. MacIntyre, After Virtue, Duckworth, 1982, challenges management effectives as a metaphysical value which functions rather like God: 'I am suggesting that ‘managerial effectiveness’ functions much as Carnap and Ayer supposed ‘God’ to function. It is the name of a fictitious, but believed-in reality, appeal to which disguises certain other realities; its effective use is expressive (op. cit., p.73).' Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Walter Principe, quoted in U. King, Women and Spirituality, Macmillan, 1989, p.6. Google Scholar

Cf, eg, S. McFague, Metaphorical Theology, SCM Press, 1983. Metaphorical Theology Google Scholar

For more on metaphors and their crucial importance in shaping world views, secondary meanings, etc, see G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago University Press, 1979. Metaphors We Live By Google Scholar

For more on how language shapes and determines the reality of the world in which we live and affects, therefore, their fundamental orientation to life see, eg, R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989; D. Cupitt, The Long-Legged Fly, SCM Press, 1987. One of the very few management texts which draws and points up the limits of metaphors is G. Morgan, Images of Organisation, Sage, 1986. Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Google Scholar

See Strong and Robinson, op. cit., ch.2. Google Scholar

For descriptions and analysis of the decline of the post war welfare state consensus see, eg, Forrester, op. cit., R. Klein, The Politics of the National Health Service, Longman, 1983. Google Scholar

For more on the critical, ironical stance see Rorty, op. cit. Google Scholar

For more on the ‘spirit’ of organisations see W. Wink, Unmasking the Powers, Fortress Press, 1986. Unmasking the Powers Google Scholar

For more on religious and ethical activity as artistic performance see Cupitt, op. cit. There are some resonances with this in relation to creative managerial authority in C. Handy, The Age of Unreason, Hutchinson, 1989. Google Scholar

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Pattison, Stephen