The 1950s to 1980s
This essay is an analysis of Vijay Verma and Max Wideman's post entitled "Is it Leadership or Management that is most needed for conducting projects in the 1990s and beyond?" (For simplicity, I will refer to the paper simply as Wideman's throughout this piece). To conduct this study, I believe that it is essential to begin with a broader examination of the changes in the business environment since the 1950's, which is where Wideman begins his exploration of the subject. I will then review his thoughts concerning the attributes of leadership versus "managership" in the context of the product life cycle.
The table cited in Wideman's piece follows the evolution of enterprise leadership. This progression started with the administrative phase in the fifties, was followed by the managerial stage and ended with the leadership phase, in the 1990s. In the 1950s, enterprises were much more static in structure; they rarely changed strategies because the landscape they worked within remained relatively unchanged. Although the domestic consumer market was growing briskly in this period, organizations were focused mainly on satisfying increases in demand. This required expanding productive capacity in a relatively stable competitive environment. Enterprises were led by administrators, who functioned well within an established hierarchy based on the traditions developed in these conditions.
The 1960s witnessed the dawning of the age of the conglomerate. Enterprises grew exponentially in size and complexity. During the 1980s deregulation brought new competitors to once closed markets. This caused instability because it exposed many staid organizations to competition, demanding quick responses to changes in the marketplace. The administrative approach to running very large enterprises operating in competitive environments was no longer sufficient to maintain profitability. Administrators were unable to cope with the increasingly tumultuous market environment.
This caused a transition to managerial command. Enterprises needed managers who could better respond to the rapid changes affecting the marketplace. Solutions were needed to address specific, and often unprecedented challenges to profitability and survival. Managers were much better suited to navigate the challenging currents unleashed by the complex mergers and mass deregulation that swept through the American economy from the 1960s through the 1980s.
2. Table 1: The Evolution of Enterprise Leadership at www.maxwideman.com/papers/leader/evolution.htm