Oxford CircusBob Tricker - Oxford Circus

NEW – 2015, Bob Tricker


The story of Oxford University and
management studies


Bob Tricker was closely involved with the development of management studies at Oxford University.  He worked with Norman Leyland, the founder of the Oxford Centre for Management Studies, as P.D. Leake Research Fellow, and succeeded him as Director of that Centre in 1971, serving for nine years, followed by a further five as a Professorial Fellow.  He was a Fellow of Nuffield College for fourteen years.

Reflecting on the saga of fifty years of management study in Oxford, he concludes that attempts to study business and management in the University had many of the hallmarks of a circus: businessmen giving acrobatic performances on the tightrope of university politics, academics flying the trapeze of anti-business sentiment, heads of college and business leaders competing to snap the ring-master’s whip, there were even a few clowns. In this personal perspective, he describes his ringside seat as the study of management developed in the University and how, from time to time, he found himself in the ring.

There was a deeper problem, he concludes. Oxford’s economists were convinced that the concepts and theories of micro-economics covered business. All businessmen had to do was understand them. Following a visit to American business schools, they concluded that Oxford did not need and should not have either a business school or an MBA, and should certainly not embrace low level vocational subjects such as accountancy or marketing. These attitudes reflected an ancient and deeper suspicion of trade and the making of money within the University. Such things were inconsistent with Oxford’s intellectual inheritance, it was felt. ‘Business is not Oxford’ was enshrined in the stones of ancient colleges and still hung in the air of their quads.

This book tells the story of the work of the Oxford Centre for Management Studies, the evolution of Templeton College, and how they became part of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

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