Numerous management concepts are discussed in an MBA program, including enterprise value, the 3Cs model (company, customers, competitors), the Five Forces model (5F: competitive rivalry, supplier power, buyer power, threat of substitution, threat of new entry), analyses using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and VRIO (value, rareness, imitability, organization), and so on. Yet “reverse-side” management concepts also exist, ones that cannot be explained in such beautifully constructed frameworks. Here, we will collect such concepts under the rubric we call “Dark Side Management Studies.”
As far as I know, research in management studies progresses from surveys of prior research to company hearings, data analysis, and logical systemization. This process readily fits large corporations, but unfortunately, small- and medium-sized firms often escape the scope of the researcher's perspective: hence, the “Dark Side,” where little light shines. One reason given by researchers for this lack of attention is the difficulty of obtaining primary information from small- and medium-sized companies, since much of this information is not open to public access.
Managers are aware that the original major difference between large and smaller corporations is “ownership” (possession). One topic focuses on the question: “Who owns the company?” If the owners of stock in a company are the company president and his or her family, or the company founder, then terms such as “stock value,” “governance,” and “corporate theory” are going to have a completely different meaning than for stock exchange-listed (i.e., publicly traded) companies. Certainly, many of you may have heard of the following companies.
- Steinway & Sons (pianos)
- John Wiley & Sons (publisher)
- USM U. Schaerer Sons K.K. (furniture)
- Arnold & Son (timepieces)
One often sees such Western companies bearing the founder’s name plus his sons. In the case of such family businesses, sacrifices are made so as to win the ultimate trust of their customers, no matter the costs, no matter what the banks say, with distribution of business resources to projects that seem to surpass the boundaries of logic. Strategies that display such “true grit and guts” surely draw the attention of researchers as unique cases, yet too often these are labeled as “inexplicable.”
So, which type of management theory is of greater efficacy, the Dark Side or typical management studies? Naturally, this will depend on the goals pursued by individual researchers. Rather than focusing on a company’s growth, which is the theme of typical management studies, Dark Side management is research into the “longevity” of companies; this is the secret teaching of “ELSV” that has been handed down from generation to generation of Dark Side managers. It seems that we should take a closer look at this Dark Side, as well as at its ELSV. That, in fact, is our subsequent topic.