Oral History As a Classroom Tool: Learning Management Theory From the Evolution of an Organization

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the use of oral history to teach students about management history and the implementation of principles of management during the evolution of an organization.

Design/Methodology/Approach: The paper describes the oral history methodology and how the process was adapted to classroom learning.

Findings: By studying the historical development of a multispeciality physician practice, students were able to see firsthand the incredible impact of the founders on the future of the organization and understand how the early culture and strategy of the organization set the stage for its successful future. Other findings involved the evolution of the organizational structure and incentive system, staff and recruiting policies, and the impact of the environment overtime. In addition, the use of oral history in the classroom proved to be an effective way of making management history come alive for students.

Research Limitations/Implications: Although designed to benefit students, the researchers found that the project provided an exciting learning experience that revealed numerous new research ideas and avenues to explore.

Originality/Value: This project was an invaluable learning experience for the students since it allowed them to witness the real world through the eyes of experienced practitioners. The students had the opportunity to talk with dynamic individuals who are successful business leaders. Their impact as role models for the students was a strong subsidiary. Furthermore, an oral history such as this leaves a memorial that can be referenced for years to come by researchers, community historians, and the organization itself.

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Journal of Management History





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