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Management Fashion: Lifecycles, Triggers, and Collective Learning Processes

Eric Abrahamson and Gregory Fairchild
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Dec., 1999), pp. 708-740
DOI: 10.2307/2667053
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2667053
Page Count: 33
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Management Fashion: Lifecycles, Triggers, and Collective Learning Processes
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Abstract

This theory-development case study of the quality circle management fashion focuses on three features of management-knowledge entrepreneurs' discourse promoting or discrediting such fashions: its lifecycle, forces triggering stages in its lifecycle, and the type of collective learning it fostered. Results suggest, first, that variability in when different types of knowledge entrepreneurs begin, continue, and stop promoting fashions explains variability in their lifecycles; second, that historically unique conjunctions of forces, endogenous and exogenous to the management-fashion market, trigger and shape management fashions; and third, that emotionally charged, enthusiastic, and unreasoned discourse characterizes the upswings of management fashion waves, whereas more reasoned, unemotional, and qualified discourse characterizes their downswings, evidencing a pattern of superstitious collective learning.

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