We know management is both science and art. The science is made up of general rules for ordering, reporting, controlling, and optimizing asset allocation. In contrast, the art is focused on the creation of organizations, their people and assets, and the science’s rules too. The science is strong when things are stable and predictable, and the assets known. Not so when they are not, which is when the art comes into play. Since WW2 pressures within academe have forced scholars, especially the younger ones, to prioritize the science. We have neglected the art of managing. Ironically, the world has paid us little attention and has moved on relentlessly, practicing the art. For managers in the XXI century Business Age and economic and sociocultural landscape yesterday’s rules are less and less relevant. Management has innovated, evolved, been enriched, and transformed. Today’s organizations are already into the future, navigating a business landscape characterized by waves of disruptive new technology, stakeholders’ behaviors, economic and political evolutions. Perforce managers must drive organizations in today’s increasing ambiguity, unpredictability and complexity and not in the imagined stable and rational contexts of yesteryear (which may never have existed).

The Arts of Management Symposium addresses questions like: What are these new modes of managerial knowledge and practice? What are the key principles and epistemological approaches needed to understand them? How are managers able to navigate in an increasing digital and complex world? What is management’s role and practice in the ages of the Precariat and gathering inequity? What future work is to be managed as AI and other technologies transform the human contribution? What are the tensions and balances between humanity and science? How can we best think about management as democratic capitalism’s central art form? What are the roles of rationality and intuition? What is the role of historical methods in unforecastable environments? What can we learn from the history of our own research activities?

Clearly management is central to organizational value creation and has a major role in steering and handling the organizational value creation mechanisms. Today’s management practice calls for a combination or synthesis of logical thinking with intuitive, creative and critical thinking. In a world in which disruption is normal and a rule of game, in which organizations need to be resilient, people have to exercise imagination, creativity and openness. But what kind of management practices are then necessary? The paradigm of management as the rigorous application of a science needs to be enriched. The study of management today is largely based upon a methodological paradigm characterized by logical empiricism, rational thinking, and agency theory. Indeed, the paradigm implies it is possible to design and govern an organization as a rational and efficient system able to achieve targeted business objectives through control, standardization, and planned change alone. While innovation has been recognized as a key factor for success, its analysis has generally been framed as merely possessing the organizational capacity for managing technical knowledge, developing core competences, and making sure people deploy their know-how to solve problems. This view may have worked well enough in a business climate characterized by quasi-stable economic growth. However, today’s business landscape is beset by ambiguities, uncertainties, dynamism, and unpredictability that calls for a new perspective on organization and management systems. Where do the capabilities for serious rule-breaking innovation come from? The dominant management paradigm that accentuates tight elements like stability, discipline, reliability, precision, modulations and measurability needs to be expanded and synergistically integrated with loose emotive-based elements such as malleability, resilience, toughness, agility, imagination, creativity, happiness, and intuition. For future success technical knowledge will need to be integrated with emotive knowledge; and the technological dimensions have to be synergistically integrated with the distinguishing human-based features such as imagination, intuition, creativity and empathy. In the new management paradigm organizations knowledge still represents a fundamental strategic resource and source of organizational value creation. However, in a digital world in which big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cybernetic systems will increasingly play a fundamental role for operations and decision-making managers will need to understand: What are the new key knowledge-based value drivers to be strategically managed? How will look like the knowledge landscape of the fourth industrial revolution? What are the new forms of strategic knowledge management of the future organizations?

The Arts of Management Symposium

5 December 2019

University of Basilicata – Matera, Italy