Università, business school, school of management: dal valore di impresa al valore di sistema

Knowledge is organised into disciplines, each with its own limited perspective on reality and study methods. There is a fundamental difference between natural sciences based on a positive and descriptive approach and social sciences that are characterised by a normative drive. Theories elaborated by social scientists are always influenced by the values and subjective views of the researchers and, at the same time, policies derived from these same theories affect and modify reality.

In the field of management studies, there are two main approaches: i) the scientific management approach, primarily developed in North America, that attempts to apply quantitative methods similar to those of the natural sciences to the study of organizations; ii) the approach developed in Central Europe and inspired by institutional theories.

Due to historical reasons, in the North American approach, the concepts of management sciences, the principles of efficiency and organizational rational functioning have been, mainly and almost exclusively, applied to firms, the institutions of modern economy aimed at producing wealth.

This approach has given birth to the model of Business Schools. In recent years, with the progressive application of management principles to other kinds of institutions, such as public administrations and non-profit organizations, this model has evolved and has often been identified with the new designation of School of Management.

On the contrary, since the beginning of the 20th century, the European tradition in management sciences has developed theories and proposed best management practices applicable to different kinds of institutions (families, firms, public administrations, non-profit organizations).

Until a few years ago in Italy there was a clear distinction between Universities in which the institutional European approach was prevalent and the non University School of management system in which scientific management and its application to the different organizational functions were prevalent. Nowadays, the two approaches appear to converge thanks also to the increasing number of young researchers and scholars educated internationally.

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