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Management's expanding responsibilities: a highly successful entrepreneur 50 years ago looked at the changing social role of business managers.

As management has developed, particularly in the past few decades, it has become clear that the profession has responsibilities beyond improving the operating efficiency of the enterprises being managed.

Since the early years of scientific management, the major emphasis has been on the economic efficiency of the unit involved. Considerable attention has been given to human relations and much has been learned about this subject, but this has been done generally in an attempt to increase efficiency. The underlying philosophy has been that, if the manager is able to produce goods and services for which the market has called and produce them at a profit, his responsibility to society has been discharged well.

No one will deny that profit-making is, indeed, the most important responsibility of a manager, for if he fails in this, he is hardly in a position to do anything else. In the past few decades, the management profession has begun to realize that it does have responsibilities beyond the achievement of economic efficiency. Fortunately, many management people have finally recognized that they do owe something to their employees beyond an hourly wage for work performed, and that they and their business firms are somehow involved in the environment created around their affairs by the society at large.

The most evident understanding of management's broader responsibility has come about in employee relations. The change in attitude was motivated in part by unions and government, but there is ample evidence that the management profession has become self-enlightened in the matter.

Employees are now well recognized as human beings, not just as a commodity to be bought on the open market. Good working conditions, safety, sickness benefits, provisions for retirement income, and many other considerations for employees are now counted high on the list.

Managers have, in recent years, taken an active interest in many affairs outside the confines of their business enterprises. Interest and activity in the local community have been increasing at a healthy rate. For a long time there have been isolated cases of communities which have been made more attractive because of the interest and involvement of the local business management. Such interest has become commonplace in recent years, and now nearly every community in America is better in some way because professional management has considered the local environment to be important.

This interest has extended far beyond financial support for community projects. It has included active participation by business people in local governmental bodies, school boards, and other such groups. These participants are a benefit to the community because of their professional skills, and in such participation they have further extended their influence.


The year in which David Packard's article appeared saw two watershed events in the advancement of human rights in the United States. In March, police attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators who were crossing the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. The event spurred action that culminated in the federal Voting Rights Act, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson in August. Police halted the Selma to Montgomery march at the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Ala.


Western culture was undergoing major social changes when this article was published in June 1965.

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Title Annotation:TECH BUZZ: VAULT
Comment:Management's expanding responsibilities: a highly successful entrepreneur 50 years ago looked at the changing social role of business managers.(TECH BUZZ: VAULT)
Author:Packard, David
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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