The First Systematized Uses of the Term “Management” in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Journal of Management History, Volume 19 Issue 2, 2011, pp.189-224

Thèmes liés : Management - In English

Since its appearance in the English language in the 16th century and until the beginning of the 20th century, the word “management” did not mean primarily “business management.” From the time when its use become frequent, in the middle of the 18th century, five generic types of literature make a repetitive use of the notion : these are texts on husbandry, medical care of the mother and of the infant, household administration, school supervision and engineering. While those uses are very diverse, when considered as a whole all these subject matters show coherence in their common definition of the term “management,” which could be summarized as : caring, making efficient , driving, systematizing, and calculating. This broad characterization of the word “management” was not an explicit reference for business management practitioners and theoreticians at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, but rather the mental foundation upon which mechanics, engineers, and accountants chose to build their own concept of the notion. From a global overview of this early discourse on management, we draw a hypothesis on the symbolic and institutional causes of the appearance of modern management.

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