Heroism, hagiography, and management theory

By Gordon Rugg

Popular management texts can be wonderful if you’re having a bad day. You simply dip into an accessibly-written text, and soon you encounter uplifting, edifying stories about real people who went through experiences much more traumatic than your bad day, and who then went on to accomplish amazing things. Stories like those can lift the spirits wonderfully, and fill you with new resolve and hope, at least until the next email or phone call comes along to plunge you back into the here and now.

Or, if you’re of a cynical nature, stories like those can leave you wondering whether you might be able to sell some gold bricks to anyone who believes the aforesaid tales.

So where does the truth lie? That’s the topic of this article, which takes us from management theory into the lives of saints, and into good old schema theory and cherry picking.

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Images from Wikipedia; details at the end of this article

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