Quick fixes, management culture and drug culture

excellence and ecstasy, BPR and brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper critiques the prescriptions of management gurus by charting parallels between management culture and drug culture over the last two decades. I argue that the 'quick fixes' peddled by gurus mirror the illicit drug fix of choice popularised in the same era. I suggest that, in terms of the specific nature of their promised highs, Excellence mirrored Ecstasy, and Business Process Reengineering mirrored Heroin. By tracing resonance with drug fixes, I introduce another way to understand why particular corporate fixes are found so attractive, locating this in patterns of addiction and in the gurus’ ability to exploit wider shared cultural contexts. The paper ends by suggesting that the comparison with the world of illicit drugs has lessons not only for our understandings of management and management gurus, but also for critical management academics engagement with both the gurus and our wider audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • excellence
  • business process re-engineering
  • management gurus
  • drugs

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