Newcastle University Business School

Event Item

Little Heresies: Everything we know about management is wrong

Date/Time: Thursday 8 December 2016, 17:30-20:00

Venue: Newcastle University Business School Partners' Room

In this seminar contributors to KITE and guest speaker Simon Caulkin, discuss how, in their opinion: management sort of works. Supermarkets are mostly stocked, and trains get there, eventually. But despite a steady supply of fads and fashions, it doesn’t work very well, and its discontents are mounting.

So, in a non-exhaustive list, big organisations are pretty unpleasant places to work; companies and managers are neither liked nor esteemed; unlike humans, corporate lives are becoming shorter, not longer; returns, like innovation, are in long term decline; in short, as has become all too clear in the continuing aftershocks of the Great Crash (itself a catastrophe made entirely in management suites and boardrooms) our organisations can no longer provide for our economic and social needs, as they have done in the past.

Organisations are hardly a novel life form – their habits are studied in more than 100 business schools in the UK alone, and more students study business than any other subject.

So why are returns on this effort so low? Why, unlike its physical and biological science cousins, doesn’t management progress or get better? The obvious answer is the right one. It’s the wrong kind of management, and as with any system tinkering to make it better just makes it worse.

Management no longer solves our problems. It is the problem. Everything we think we know about management is wrong.

About Simon Caulkin

Simon Caulkin is a business writer who for 16 years was management columnist for The Observer. He has written widely for the national and business press and previously edited the UK monthly Management Today. He was the Industrial Society's industrial journalist of the year for 1997, won a prize for the best management article of 2004 and was the Work Foundation's 2009 columnist of the year. He continues to write at

About the Series

These seminars build on a highly successful UK national tour in 2012/13 called ‘Kittens are Evil’ which attracted over 500 attendees and significant social media activity. This set of seminars brings together the best talks from the tour with new material from a local network of little heretics.