Breaking the chains of ignorance: manager-philosophers in recent management history

Steven Segal, Kyle Bruce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to disclose new pathways for research and for understanding the relationship between management, philosophy and history. Design/methodology/approach: Textual exegesis of the key protagonists in terms of a critical explanation or interpretation of text. Findings: In contrast to textbook forms of philosophy developed under conditions of abstraction from practice, it is in the context of practice that managers develop their way of thinking. More particularly, the authors have demonstrated through the exemplars of Semler and Welch, how as managers are disrupted in their workday practices of “living forward”, they are able to become reflexively attuned to the taken-for-granted common sense and ideas that have been implicit guides to them. As they are able to recognise their taken-for-granted background common sense, they are able to critique this, subject it to change and, thus, open-up new possibilities for living forward. Originality/value: The focus of this paper has tended to be rather piecemeal and limited to the impact of particular philosophers on particular management thinkers. To date, there has been no philosophical contemplation of the practice of management per se nor, concomitantly, the pivotal but basically disregarded role of managers qua philosophers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-132
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Management
  • Philosophical concepts
  • Philosophy


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