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Elite solidarity, social responsibility, and the contested origins of Britain's first business schools

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mairi Maclean, Professor Charles Harvey, Professor Tom McGovern



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Britain is often depicted as a laggard in management education before the late creation of two graduate schools of business in the mid-1960s triggered the emergence of a new academic sector. According to the dominant narrative, the anachronistic views of Britain's industrial leaders and disdain of its universities for practical learning constrained developments in the field. Through the lens of elite theory, we offer a reinterpretation of the formation of Britain's first business schools informed by archival research, suggesting that they arose from an evolutionary process rather than a crucible event. The story of the creation of Britain's first business schools has never been told from the perspective of elite agency. Our study reveals the emergent managerial elite of the post-war era as growing into something altogether more powerful. Our main contribution to theory is to demonstrate that, while expanding management education ostensibly contravened elite interests, elite interaction in the field of power at a time of national urgency amplified influence, prefiguring their role as 'influence elites' today.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maclean M, Harvey C, McGovern T, Shaw G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Academy of Management Learning & Education

Year: 2023

Volume: 22

Issue: 2

Pages: 191-215

Print publication date: 01/06/2023

Online publication date: 25/02/2022

Acceptance date: 18/02/2022

Date deposited: 20/02/2022

ISSN (print): 1537-260X

ISSN (electronic): 1944-9585

Publisher: Academy of Management


DOI: 10.5465/amle.2021.0229

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/4965-he31

Notes: Two of the four authors - Harvey and McGovern - are from Newcastle University Business School.


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