What We Still Need

“UNLESS, we admit that rules of thumb, the limited experience of the executives in each individual business, and the general sentiment of the street, are the sole possible guides for executive decisions of major importance, it is pertient to inquire how the representative practises of business men generally may be made available as a broader foundation for such decisions, and how a proper theory of business is to be obtained. The theory of business, to meet the need, must develop to such a point that the executive , who will make the necessary effort, may learn effectively from the experiences of others in the past what to avoid and how to act under the conditions of the present. Otherwise, business will continue unsystemic, haphazard, and for many men a pathetic gamble, with the failures of each serious business depression made up largely of the best moral risks.

No amount of theory can be a substitute for energy, enthusiasm, initiative, creative ability, and personality, nor will it take the place of technical knowledge. Now, however, all of the personal qualities may be coupled with an adequate technical equipment, and yet the executive of wide experience may fail through our inability to grasp the broad underlying forces controlling business, a knowledge of which would give a sound basis for judgment. It is a serious criticism of our business structure that it so long lacked an adequate method by which these broad forces may be appraised, their probable course charted, and their application to individual executive problems made reasonably clear.”

Essential Groundwork For A Broad Executive Theory by Wallace Donham
The opening article from the first issue of Harvard Business Review in October 1922

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