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Enright et al., “Daewoo and the Korean Chaebol,” University of Hong Kong case no.
In the upheaval, he says, Donham saw the limits of the approach he had championed.
Strangely, Donham’s apparent change of heart is not recognized in conventional histories of HBS and its iconic case method, according to Bridgman and his co-authors, management professors Stephen Cummings, a fellow professor at Victoria University, and Colm Mc Laughlin of the University College Dublin. He and his colleagues, whose work was published in the Academy of Management, propose that the case study, now central to the HBS brand and its revenue, has been given a convenient origin story that created a new, accepted truth.
And Donham began revisiting his mission at Harvard.
By this time, he had become friendly with the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, a British transplant who had left Cambridge University for Harvard, where he wrote on metaphysics.
Referencing the French philosopher Michel Foucault, they suggest that in such cases, the “truth” about a historical event is actually driven by present-day concerns, but that it becomes, as Foucault wrote, “the sort of error that cannot be refuted because it [has been] hardened into an unalterable form in the long baking process of history.”Bridgman and his colleagues’ intriguing counter-history of HBS begins when Donham arrives in 1919, becoming its second dean.
The school was only 11 years old then, but it was already using what it called “problem solving” as a method for learning—to a degree.His support of hands-on training thus bolstered Donham’s approach to teaching business at a time when the academic community was questioning whether the school even belonged on its campus.However, the great thinker also worried about the era’s preoccupation with capital and material goods.Whitehead is now best known as the originator of “process philosophy,” which, put most simply, posits that reality is comprised of a series of interconnected events, or becomings, rather than fixed “matter.” Among other issues, this worldview is concerned with “the relationship between mind and world, and the realization of values in action,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Whiteheld held strong convictions about what education should be.Specifically, he “rejected any distinction between abstract and practical knowledge,” Bridgman and his fellow researchers note. “Daewoo and the Korean Chaebol.” University of Hong Kong case no. HKU143 (University of Hong Kong, August 2001), via Harvard Business Publishing, accessed March 2007. As the authors report, the school’s founding dean, Edwin Gay, had adapted the case study method pioneered at Harvard’s law school, of which Donham was an alumnus.Under Gay, however, the school had struggled to find problems as fodder for course lessons.The case method, as a style of learning, asks students to imagine themselves in the role of the “protagonist” (typically the CEO) leading the firm profiled in the case.They’re required to come to class prepared to make a solid argument for one course of direction, and then convince their peers of it, with rhetorical flair.