Daniel A. Wren

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Daniel A. Wren (born ca. 1935) is an American business theorist and Emeritus Professor at the University of Oklahoma, known from his 1972 book coauthored with Arthur G. Bedeian, entitled "The evolution of management thought."


  • Mooney's unpublished paper “The Science of Industrial Organization” (1929) portrays GM's multidivisional organization's use of the line-staff concept in organizing overseas assembly plants. Here I compare General Motors with Ford Motor Company, which had first-mover advantages overseas, and examine how each company organized and managed their international operations. “Linking pins,” a social-science concept, illustrates how GM's organizational hierarchy achieved vertical coordination of effort.
    • Daniel A. Wren, "James D. Mooney and General Motors' Multinational Operations, 1922–1940." Business History Review 87.03 (2013): 515-543 : Article abstract

The evolution of management thought, 1972[edit]

Daniel A. Wren & Arthur G. Bedeian (1972). The evolution of management thought. 6th ed. 2009.

  • Management as an activity has always existed to make people’s desires through organized effort. Management facilitates the efforts of people in organized groups and arises when people seek to cooperate to achieve goals.
    • p. 11-12 (in 1972 edition)
  • Although the Gordon and Howell report noted the diversity of approaches to the study of management, it was Harold Koontz who delineated the differences and applied the catchy label ‘‘management theory jungle.’’
    • p. 413
  • As open systems, organizations faced an environment that might be placid and benevolent, or turbulent and harsh. Economic, social, political, and technological changes could come rapidly or slowly, and some organizational arrangements might be better able to cope with the changing environment than others. Could it be that there was no one way to structure an organization that design was influenced by environmental factors and could vary, depending on technology?
Joan Woodward (1916–1971) took this contingency view, classified organizations by the complexity of the technology used in producing goods, and found that it influenced an organization’s structure. Her classification, ranging from less complex (1) to more advanced (3), consisted of (1) unit and small-batch production systems that produced made-to-order and customized products to meet consumers’ needs; (2) large-batch and mass production, which involved a fairly standardized or uniform product with but few variations in its final appearance; and (3) long-run continuous-process production, which involved a standard product manufactured by moving through a predictable series of steps.
  • p. 462-3 (in 2009 edition)

"Most influential management books of the 20th Century," 2001[edit]

Arthur G. Bedeian, and Daniel A. Wren. "Most influential management books of the 20th Century." Organizational Dynamics 29.3 (2001),

  • The Management of Innovation (1961) [by Tom Burns and George M. Stalker is]... the first major attempt to deal with the nature of organization-environment relations and identify the types of organizational structure and managerial practices that are appropriate for different environmental condition. Introduced the mechanistic-organic polarity (never a dichotomy) to the management lexicon.
    • p. 224.

Quotes about Daniel A. Wren[edit]

  • Historian Daniel A. Wren says that operations research/ management science has "… roots in scientific management." Like Taylor and the Gilbreths, today's management scientists use research and analysis to find optimal solutions to management problems. Modern-day management scientists, of course, use much more sophisticated mathematical tools and computers. And management science's goal is not to try to find a “science of management” but “to use scientific analysis and tools to solve management problems.”
    • Gary Dessler, ‎Jean Phillips (2008) Managing Now, p. 16: About the Management Science Approach
  • Wren and Bedeian 2008 is the most important management history book, and it is the one most widely used as a primary source in courses on management history.
    • David D. Van Fleet Management History, 2014.

External links[edit]

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