The parallel development of management theory and practice over three phases of economic development is surveyed; (1) the pre-oil crisis experience 1969-1975, (2) the post oil crisis sobering up through most of the 1990s and (3) the emergence of new global production organizations , blurring the notion of the firm to be managed. The external market circumstances of each period dictate different structures of business operations ; (a) a steady state and predictable environment, (b) crisis, inflation and disorderly markets and (c) new technology supporting a globally distributed production organization. As a consequence structural learning between the periods has been of limited value and often outright misleading. The influence of management theory on management practice and its origin in the received economic equilibrium model are discussed, and an alternative management theory based on the theory of the Experimentally Organized Economy (EOE) presented. The increased rate of failure among large firms is related to the increasing complexity of business decisions in globally distributed production and the decreased reliability of learning . It is concluded that successful management practice develops through experimentation in markets and that the best management education has been a varied career in many lines of business and in several companies.
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