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PROBLEMS WITH APPLYING BUSINESS MANAGEMENT THEORIES TO LIBRARY MANAGEMENT

The Influence of Commercial Enterprise-Focused Strategic Management Theories on Libraries

This chapter comprehensively addressed the main theories of strategic management and organisational theories that were developed for

Transitions in the bibliometric analysis of management theories. From Library Literature, LISA, LISTA

Figure 3.13 Transitions in the bibliometric analysis of management theories. From Library Literature, LISA, LISTA.

profit-making organisations and also significantly applied within library management. Prior studies have confirmed that theories of strategic management had a strong influence on library management up until the 1950s, and this trend has evidently increased with each passing generation since the 1960s (Fig. 3.13).

In the 1990s, strategic management theories linked to BPR - which included downsizing, restructuring and outsourcing - had a strongly detrimental influence on library management. It was these management theories that led to a reduction in the number of personnel, which in turn led to the loss of important knowledge of library work such as cataloguing and technical services.

From the late 1990s to early 2000s, a large volume of literature about core competence management was published and had a major effect on libraries; this was linked to organisational learning/learning organisation. Librarians welcomed organisational learning/learning organisation and community of practice, which are linked to the concept of core competency. These approaches had not led to a reduction in personnel, and had instead increased the productivity of their operations. In each of these cases, external consultants were hired, and the observation that the librarians were unable to implement management reforms on their own is a subject for further consideration. It has also become clear that management reforms were a major burden on the librarians. However, when considering libraries’ cultures and customs, the lack of adverse reactions to the reforms from librarians, their capabilities for implementing plans, and the results from the implementation of these plans, perhaps we can conclude that management and organisational theories such as organisational learning/learning organisation and community of practice are appropriate management theories for libraries.

In the attempt to create library management as a new field, researchers, library directors and consultants adapted business management strategies for libraries. For instance, the management evaluation theories of the ALA and ARL were based on the long-range planning and MBO. Likewise, Lancaster’s library evaluation theory was based on Taylor’s scientific management. Furthermore, LibQUAL+ modified SERVQUAL to render it suitable for evaluation of library services, and ISO 11620 revised Balanced Scorecard to orient them to libraries. As library management theories, however, they all lacked originality, and were not executed appropriately even when actually applied to libraries. This may be because while management theory is complex, the management theories were originally meant for commercial enterprises and thus had a different concept of management.

 
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