Biography

My academic qualifications include a BSc in management sciences from Warwick University, and a PhD from Manchester Business School, researching innovation, strategy and culture.

My twenty year practitioner experience was gained with three different groups of companies in manufacturing, distribution and services, two British and one Australian. Having joined the first as a management trainee, I gained experience in marketing, operations and control systems and later was largely engaged in general and strategic management. I have held board level responsibility for mergers and acquisitions, finance and accounting, personnel and industrial relations, IT and computerisation, production control, purchasing and marketing,

I subsequently joined academia at Keele University’s department of management; where I was head of the department for four years and director of MBA programmes for three. From 2004 I have been an honorary senior research fellow in Keele Business School. He has more than 60 publications including seven books, the last two being ‘The Rise and Fall of Management: a brief history of practice, theory and context’published by Gower in October, 2009, and ‘The Road to Co-operation: escaping the bottom line’ also published by Gower in April, 2012.  

I maintain a critical blogsite at www.gordonpearson.co.uk which focuses on the impact of management theory on management practice. 

The Road to Co-operation: Escaping the Bottom Line

This critical analysis highlights the effects of using unrealistic mathematical models of  human, organisational and market behaviour, to guide economic policy. It flags up the  destruction of real economies, markets, firms, jobs and people, caused by unwarranted trust in unregulated markets, the naïve adoption of maximisation targets, including acceptance of the falsely based focus on serving shareholder interests above everything else. Wholesale displacement of this ‘bad theory’ is shown as prerequisite to a sustainable future. 

Though real markets work better than known alternatives, Pearson makes the crucial distinction between the real and the speculative-financial, where totally different realities apply. Failure to make that distinction has transformed financial sectors from supportive of the real economy, to a predatory, inequitable and often fraudulent reality focused on extracting value rather than its creation.

Briefly reviews how the resultant culture is magnifying the impact of global population growth and unsustainable inequality, resource depletion and pollution of finite earth.

Pearson argues that these destructive impacts could be reversed by the adoption of more co-operative systems of corporate governance to protect the real economy from predation by finance and to positively engage all stakeholders in the future sustainable development of industry and business. A comparative analysis is provided of corporate governance theory, law, and practice in different jurisdictions, including UK and USA, Japan, Germany and the emerging economies of China and India. It is shown that outside Anglo-American jurisdictions, greater care is exercised to protect and develop real economic strengths.

The Road to Co-operation proposes realistic changes in policy and practice, which would facilitate different degrees of co-operation. These extend from employee involvement in specific corporate decisions, through various approaches to governance, including different co-operative formats, to full-on co-ownership. Change in this direction would be prerequisite to recapturing real long term economic success on a non-exploitative and co-operative foundation.

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK wrote: ‘I simply loved reading the book. While some of the subject matter for the book was familiar territory (as a former Chief Executive, for eleven years, of the New Economics Foundation), I thought it was wonderfully written with a deft touch and very great authority. The result is something that is a real contemporary classic, in terms of articulating the case for an economy that, as the title echoes, can generate shared and sustainable freedom.’

The Rise and Fall of Management: A Brief History of Practice, Theory and Context

This is not just a history or a sociological analysis of management. It gives a broad, practically informed, critical view of the subject that will be welcomed by any reader with a professional or academic interest in the practice, theory, and context of professional management. The book examines the history of management’s rise and fall, and some means of its possible renewal. Additional insight into today’s economic and financial problems comes from this bottom up historical perspective on how and why the practice and teaching of management has developed as it has.

Management as a practice is shown to be essential to the early stages of industrialization. Its subsequent accumulation as a body of expertise was made explicit and taught in the early American business schools. The subsequent development of management theory was based on both solid empirical research and practical experience. Scientific, structural, human relations and contingency approaches to management are reviewed and its crucial role in global economic progress recorded.

Finally, this challenging book sheds light on the benign role management could play if freed from the restraints of inappropriate theory. Such renewal, against the background of today’s short term wealth maximization culture, would be crucial to solving the problems of global resource depletion and climate change as well as the re-establishment of fairness, justice and transparency in the industrial scene.

Gordon Pearson, who has spent equal parts of his long career as a practising manager and a management educator, clarifies through rigorous historical review, how professional management has addressed the difficult issues with which we struggle today.

Simon Caulkin, Management Editor of The Observerwrote: ‘Gordon Pearson's new book fills an important gap. In the course of a careful and absorbing institutional history, he demolishes some of management's pervasive and damaging myths – such as the primacy of shareholder value – and restates its enduring verities. To reshape management for the future, we need to know how it developed and why. This is the place to start.’