Gordon Pearson’s background is more or less equally divided between industry and academia. Main practitioner experience was with three different groups of companies, having joined the first as a management trainee, gaining experience in marketing, operations and control systems and later being largely engaged in general and strategic management.
Practitioner experience confirmed the view that real industry was constrained by accounting norms. The accounting solution to problems was invariably to cut, to close things down and “release” people (the accounting euphemism), rather than support long term building and development. GP wrote several professional journal articles on this theme as well as ‘The Strategic Discount’, which challenged the accounting practice of loading the required hurdle rates for long term investments, with a risk premium. The risk premium didn’t increase the profitability of long term investments but merely resulted in more projects being rejected. The strategic discount was a reduction of the required hurdle rate for long term investments which satisfied strategic ends. The discount didn’t reduce the profitability of such investments but resulted in more strategically justified investments being made.
‘Strategic Thinking’ and ‘Strategy in Action’, were also focused on the practice and theory of strategic management, but were written primarily for post-graduate, post-experience students of management.
First degree was in Management Sciences at Warwick University, followed fifteen years later, by a PhD at Manchester Business School investigating what helped and hindered firms being effective innovators. Subsequent academic research was focused mainly on strategic management, innovation and change, the distinctive focus being on the practicalities of implementation. Having completed the doctoral project the move was made from industry to academia.
A cut down version of the doctoral research was published as ‘The Competitive Organization’. Two clusters of organizational characteristics were identified which helped firms to be effective innovators. The first characteristic was related to strategy: having a clear idea of the firm’s position in its industry and the direction in which it was headed, that clear idea being held by all the people in the organisation, rather than just top management. The second characteristic was a progressive culture which enabled and encouraged people in the organisation to contribute to the firm’s strategic development. These characteristics would only be credible if the management were seen to act with integrity to all stakeholders as argued in ‘Integrity in Organizations’.
A focused strategy and progressive culture are exactly counter to the command and control, shareholder focused, short term maximising, demanded by neoclassical economic theory. That ideology justified and supported the accountants’ emphasis on short term profit.
‘The Rise and Fall of Management’, published in 2009, views the current plight of management practice and theory in its long term context, drawing some conclusions regarding the dysfunctional impact of economic theory on real industry management. It not only justified the accountants’ short term focus, but also the extraction of value from real economy firms for the benefit of external stakeholders. The book suggests ways in which these effects might be reversed.
‘The Road to Co-operation’, published in 2012, considers further the extent of damage arising from the general acceptance of neoclassical economics and the use of outrageously simplisitc mathematical models of real economic pohenomena. It compares Anglo-American acceptance of this approach to corporate governance with less strictly formulaic appraiches elsewhere and stresses the importance of our newer understanding of global sustainability. The book concludes with an analysis of the potential for co-operative industrial management as an economic corrective.
In 2014, GP contributed, as a member of the Corporate Reform Collective to ‘Fighting Corporate Abuse’ and as a member of Keele Management School to Contemporary Issues in Management’ (Eds: Hamilton L, Mitchell, L & Mangan, A),