Management fad is a term used to characterize a change in philosophy or operations implemented by a business or institution.
The term is subjective and tends to be used in a pejorative sense, as it implies that such a change is being implemented (often by management on its employees, with little or no input from them) solely because it is (at the time) "popular" within managerial circles, and not necessarily due to any real need for organizational change. The term further implies that once the underlying philosophy is no longer "popular", it will be replaced by the newest "popular" idea, in the same manner and for the same reason as the previous idea.
Several authors have argued that new management ideas should be subject to greater critical analysis, and for the need for greater conceptual awareness of new ideas by managers. Authors Leonard J. Ponzi and Michael Koenig believe that a key determinant of whether any management idea is a "management fad" is the number and timing of published articles on the idea. In their research, Ponzi and Koenig argue that once an idea has been discussed for around 3-5 years, if after this time the number of articles on the idea in a given year decreases significantly (similar to the right-hand side of a bell curve), then the idea is most likely a "management fad".
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Management fads are often characterized by the following:
The following management theories and practices appeared on a list of management fashions and fads compiled by Adrian Furnham, who arranged them in rough chronological order by their date of appearance, 1950s to 1990s:
Other theories and practices which observers have tagged as fads include:
The catchphrases alone are enough to bring flooding into the memory some of the numerous time-and-money-wasting initiatives that went nowhere. Remember 'empowerment,' now replaced by 'engagement'? Remember 'thriving on chaos' and 'upside-down organizations'? [...] The change-ophile, wannabe consultant or desperate manager often embrace every new fad around.
For a critique of the practice of branding new management ideas as fads, see
For a listicle see:
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