Ecclesiastical Bureaucracy: a Gregorian critique of Managerialism
For those of you lacking Christmas distractions, the full paper (!)
For those of you lacking Christmas distractions, the full paper (!)
Bacher, Robert, and Michael Cooper-White. Church Administration: Programs/Process/Purpose. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2007.
Bain, Alexander. Logic. Vol. 2 (Induction). 2 vols. London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer, 1870.
Bede. Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Edited by B. Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.
Bridger, Francis. “A Theological Reflection.” In Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy, by Convocations of Canterbury and York, 13–20. London: Church House Publishing, 2003.
Burnham, James. The Managerial Revolution: Or, What Is Happening in the World Now. London: Putnam, 1942.
Business Week. “The New Breed of Strategic Planner.” Business Week, September 17, 1984.
Chandler, Alfred D. “Decision Making and Modern Institutional Change.” The Journal of Economic History 33, no. 1 (1973): 1–15. doi:10.1017/S0022050700076397.
Chandler, Alfred D., and Fritz Redlich. “Recent Developments in American Business Administration and Their Conceptualization.” The Business History Review 35, no. 1 (April 1961): 1–27. doi:10.2307/3111631.
Chew, Mike, and Mark Ireland. How to Do Mission Action Planning: A Vision-Centred Approach. London: SPCK Publishing, 2009.
Convocations of Canterbury and York. Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy. London: Church House Publishing, 2003.
Demacopoulos, George. “Gregory the Great and the Pagan Shrines of Kent.” Journal of Late Antiquity 1, no. 2 (2008): 353–69. doi:10.1353/jla.0.0018.
Diocese of Canterbury. “‘Ecclesiastical Manager’ Advert.” The Church Times, February 4, 2005.
Edwards, J. David. “Managerial Influences in Public Administration.” International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior 1, no. 4 (November 1998): 553–83.
Enteman, Willard F. Managerialism: The Emergence of a New Ideology. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.
Fitch, David. “Ignore Ideology at Your Own Risk: One More Look at the LGBTQ Debate.” Blog. Reclaiming the Mission, March 5, 2013. <www.reclaimingthemission.com/ignore-ideology-at-your-own-risk-one-more-look-at-the-lgbtq-debate>.
General Synod of the Church of England. Clergy Discipline Measure. 2003 No. 3, 2006. <www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2003/3/pdfs/ukcm_20030003_en.pdf>.
———. Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure 2011. 2011 No. 2. Vol. 2011/2, 2011. <www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2011/2/contents/enacted>.
———. Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure. 2009 No. 1, 2009. <www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2009/1/contents/enacted>.
Gladwin, John, and Rupert Bursell QC. Interim Report of the Commissaries Appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Relation to a Visitation upon the Diocese of Chichester. Lambeth Palace: The Archbishop of Canterbury, August 30, 2012. <http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2604/archbishops-chichester-visitation-interim-report-published>.
Handley, Paul. “Holder of the Ring.” The Church Times. December 8, 1995.
Harden, Rachel. “Verdict on Sick Rector.” The Church Times, February 1, 2008.
Hartley, Jean F. “Ideology and Organizational Behavior.” International Studies of Management & Organization 13, no. 3 (1983): 7–34.
Heseltine, Michael. “Ministers and Management in Whitehall.” Management Services in Government 35, no. 2 (May 1980): 61–68.
Litterer, Joseph A. “Systematic Management: The Search for Order and Integration.” The Business History Review 35, no. 4 (Winter) (1961): 461–76. doi:10.2307/3111754.
Locke, Robert R., and J. C. Spender. Confronting Managerialism: How the Business Elite and Their Schools Threw Our Lives out of Balance. London; New York: Zed Books, 2011.
MacIntyre, Alasdair C. Whose Justice? Which Rationality?. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988.
Mayr-Harting, Henry. The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. 3rd ed. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.
Mintzberg, Henry. “Managing Government, Governing Management.” Harvard Business Review 74, no. 3 (May 1996): 75–83.
———. “Musings on Management.” Harvard Business Review 74, no. 4 (August 1996): 61–67.
———. “Society Has Become Unmanageable as a Result of Management.” In Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations, 335–73. New York: Free Press, 1989.
———. The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. Hemmel Hempstead: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Mintzberg, Henry, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joseph B. Lampel. Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide through the Wilds of Strategic Management. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2009.
Norris, H. M. “A Simple and Effective System of Shop Cost-Keeping.” Engineering Magazine, 1898.
Orwell, George. James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution. London: Socialist Book Centre, 1946.
———. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Secker & Warburg, 1949.
———. “Second Thoughts on James Burnham, May 1946.” In Smothered under Journalism, 1946, edited by Peter Davison, 18:268–84. The Complete Works of George Orwell. London: Secker & Warburg, 1998.
Pattison, Stephen. The Faith of the Managers: When Management Becomes Religion. London: Cassell, 1997.
Percy, Martyn. “The Challenges of Contemporary Culture.” Conference Address presented at the St Albans Diocese Clergy Conference (’Meeting the Challenge of Mission and Ministry’), The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire, June 25, 2012. <www.stalbans.anglican.org/Resources/Developing-People-and-Parishes/Bishop-s-Conference>.
———. The Ecclesial Canopy: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012.
Pollitt, Christopher. Managerialism and the Public Services: The Anglo-American Experience. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990.
———. “Managerialism Revisited.” In Taking Stock: Assessing Public Sector Reforms, edited by B. Guy Peters and Donald J. Savoie, 45–77. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998.
Quiggin, John. “Word for Wednesday: Managerialism (definition).” John Quiggin: Commentary on Australian & World Events from a Social-Democratic Perspective, July 2, 2003. <http://johnquiggin.com/2003/07/02/word-for-wednesday-managerialism-definition/>.
Steinhoff, William R. George Orwell and the Origins of “1984.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975.
Stewart, Matthew. “The Management Myth.” Atlantic Monthly 297, no. 5 (June 2006): 80–87.
———. The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2009.
It is often forgotten, in the rush to congratulate ourselves on our Anglican pragmatism, that Pope Gregory sent another letter at the time of his advice to Mellitus. This letter was to King Ethelbert, in which the flatteringly and inaccurately named “King of the English” was admonished to:
hasten to extend the Christian faith among the races subject to you, redouble your righteous enthusiasm in their conversion, hunt down the worship of idols, and overturn the building of temples, by encouraging the morality of your subjects with your great purity of life, by terrifying them, by flattering them, by correcting them and by showing them the example of good deeds.1
In other words, paganism was to be eradicated, both through physical and exemplary means. Buildings were to demolished, good deeds erected in their place
The business-like Augustine was able to achieve Gregory’s advice, but not by being business-like. The life of the Roman missionaries in Canterbury emulated the life of the early church: “They were constantly engaged in prayers, in vigils and fasts. …they despised all worldly things as foreign to them; they accepted only the necessaries of life from those they taught; in all things they practised what they preached and kept themselves prepared to endure adversities, even to the point of dying for the truths they proclaimed.”2 It was ‘effective’: “Many found faith and were baptized through their admiration of the simplicity of it all.”3
MAPs are an expression of the greatest fiction of the ideology of managerialism, namely moral neutrality. Alasdair MacIntyre refuted this fiction, as have people writing from within the world of management and management studies; for example, Locke and Spender, Mintzberg, Stewart and Enteman.1 It is curious how this fiction has survived, and indeed, thrived, when James Burnham, one of the earliest proponents of the “managerial revolution,” described how managerialism was the inevitable precursor to totalitarianism—an idea which so appalled George Orwell that he wrote his most famous book about the character of a managerial-totalitarian society.2
Martyn Percy illustrates the danger of the fiction with a thought experiment, set in Babylon at the time of the Exile:
You can imagine the Israelites in, say, Babylon, and those wonderful, whispering voices of Anglican accommodation that would’ve been around even then, turning round to the leaders and to the prophets saying, ‘Now look. We’re not really saying that we want to dump Jehovah. All we are saying is that the Babylonians have done really rather well for themselves. They have nice gardens. They seem to be running rather good water-systems. The roads are excellent; health-care provision is good. So, we’re really saying how about a bit of a mixed economy here? How about giving these gods a bit of a run, and keeping on with Jehovah, and let’s see how it goes?’3
Managerialism, with its four mythic components of economic efficiency, universal applicability, caste conformity and moral neutrality, is ultimately, profoundly, anti-democratic:
The managerialist society is not one which responds to the needs, desires, and wishes of a majority of its citizens. In the managerialist society, influence is exercised through organization. The society responds to whatever the managements of various organizations can gain in their transactions with each other. If people belong to an organization which effectively represents their interests, they may get some response. If they do not, they probably will not.4
Michael Hesletine was clear about the methods and advantages of management, once translated from private to public sectors:
What do I mean by managing? I mean three things; setting clear objectives; a strategy to reach those objectives; a method of monitoring progress to ensure that one is not losing momentum or, if one is, that one can adjust to new circumstances deliberately and quickly.1
Thirty years on, the message has reached the Church of England, with the burgeoning popularity of MAPs (Mission Action Plans). The marriage of secular improvement plans and the mission of the Church, a MAP is simply “a document which outlines the mission activities that a local church is going to do in the coming months and years.” It is a form of “strategic planning,” familiar to the secular world, and in which “research is needed, reviews have to be conducted, opinions must be explored, priorities have to be assessed, resource plans must be made and decisions have to be taken.”2 For Chew and Ireland the origins of MAPs (other than in Chew’s secular experience as “Business Excellence Director” for an electronics firm) can be traced to the actions of David Hope when he was Bishop of Wakefield. He attended a course on leadership run by John Adair, doyen of British leadership studies, and was impressed enough to translate Adair’s seven marks of a high-performance team into an ecclesial context.3 The rudimentary scheme, implemented in Wakefield and then London dioceses, was based on a four-fold process: Review; Choose; Plan; Act.4 It had an immediate and impressive effect: congregational attendance in London improved, and Hope is clear that “it wouldn’t have happened without MAP.”5
Chew and Ireland are aware of the resistance that MAP might encounter from within the Church. Chapter 1 has a (short) section asking and answering the question “Is MAP just another management fad?” They make a distinction between “key processes” and “management tools.” The latter are subject to change, decay, fashion and faddishness.6 Processes remain constant and necessary, and MAP is an example of process.7 Furthermore, they address the biblical and ecclesial roots of their process with a theological reflection on MAP (chapter 3), in which the stewardship of the Pastoral Epistles, planning in Romans and the Lukan parables, the biblical image of growth, the work of the Natural Church Development movement, and the recovery of the missionary imperative, are all evidenced as the roots and fruitfulness of MAP.
Chew and Ireland’s work, rapidly being implemented throughout the dioceses of the Church of England,8 appears to stand firmly within the modest pragmatism of its foundation. As Pope Gregory told Melitus “…it is doubtless impossible to cut out everything at once from their stubborn minds: just as the man who is attempting to climb to the highest place, rises by steps and degrees and not by leaps.”9 Step by step does it, and not just a random series of steps. We need to know where we are going, and then examine our progress in a reflective and critical manner.
We need to plan strategically. Except, problematically, according to Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel, strategic planning is itself the combined functioning of three fallacies: the fallacy of predetermination (in which forecasting is dependent upon ignoring discontinuities and the unexpected), the fallacy of detachment (in which hard data is abstracted from the messiness of soft experience), and the fallacy of formalization (in which we believe that the reality of a situation is most fully described by being broken into its constituent parts, artificially delineated).10
Interestingly enough, the Church of England has discovered strategic planning thirty years after its short-comings were identified in the secular business world. “After more than a decade of near-dictatorial sway over the future of U.S. corporations, the reign of the strategic planner may be at an end,” reported Business Week in 1984. Reasonably enough, one might think when “few of the supposedly brilliant strategies concocted by planners were successfully implemented.” As the CEO of General Motors, the corporation most closely associated with strategic planning, said, “we got these great plans together, put them on the shelf, and marched off to do what we would be doing anyway. It took us a little while to realise that wasn’t getting us anywhere.”11
As Mintzberg has said elsewhere:
most so-called strategists, however, just sit on top and pretend to strategize. They formulate ever-so-clever strategies for everyone else to implement. They issue glossy strategic plans that look wonderful and take their organizations nowhere with great fanfare. Strategy becomes a game of chess in which the pieces great blocks of businesses and companies get moved around with a ferocity that dazzles the market analysts.12
Very often the process of counting (measuring costs and resources) actually ignores the costs inherent in counting. It is “control by numbers,” a reification by which we pretend a new process is a substitute for thinking: “managers keep operating on their systems, radically altering them in the hope of fixing them, usually by cutting things out.”13 (Or, as David Hope put it, “prune for growth.” ((Quoted in Chew and Ireland, Mission Action Planning, 4.))) Contemporary professional management is “management by remote control”, through which “empowerment” is a reassertion of the power of the hierarchy: “people don’t get power because it is logically and intrinsically built into their jobs; they get it as a gift from the gods who sit atop those charts.”14
From within the church Percy has warned against the “inexorable rise” of MAPs. He identifies the confusion in much MAP material between ‘growth’ and ‘multiplication.’ “The church is not a body that is supposed to be ever-more productive, like a factory or industry that simply improves its output year on year. It is an organic body of wisdom, in which pruning, seasons, life and death, course through its very veins. It is about renewal and resurrection—so also about letting go, and death. It is about love and loss, and the hope of things to come.” MAPs, by their very nature (concentrating on the things that can be measured—the fallacy of predetermination), confuse “extensity for intensity, popularity for depth, and acquisition for wisdom.” The Church is required to follow Christ, and to give up all in that following, even its own life: “The church is not called to success, but to faithfulness.” Too often, following “the yellow brick road” instead of the via dolorosa we tend to devalue sustaining and over-value innovation. We become a church in which novelty, rather than martyrdom, is the highest good.15
The undoubted success of the CIO in North Atlantic society in the years after the Second World War meant that the way in which CIOs were structured was thought to contribute to their success.1 Because business administration was a factor in the success of CIOs it must mean that business administration was the factor in the success of CIOs. Therefore, it became apparent that business administration could be and should be applied to other areas of human endeavour. This assumption, the universal applicability of business administration, led to the development of what we might call “managerialism.”2 By the latter part of the twentieth century it was dominant in all expressions of human endeavour. As John Quiggen succinctly puts it:
The central doctrine of managerialism is that the differences between such organisations as, for example, a university and a motor-vehicle company, are less important than the similarities, and that the performance of all organisations can be optimised by the application of generic management skills and theory. It follows that the crucial element of institutional reform is the removal of obstacles to ‘the right to manage’.3
Michael Heseltine, in the first Thatcher government, believed completely in managerialism:
I believe we are faced, as a nation, by a task of national revival as daunting as we have ever faced. Efficient management is a key to the revival. If Britain’s managers fail, we can turn out the lights. And the management ethos must run right through our national life—private and public companies, civil service, nationalised industries, local government, the National Health Service.4
Hesletine’s faith in the invisible, omniscient and omnipotent power of the management ethos warns us that something more than a mere technocratic approach to resource allocation is going on here. Heseltine’s “management ethos” is, in fact, an ideology, and it is important to recognise this. There is no position of neutrality when it comes to the operation of ideology. As David Fitch puts it, to “take a position on the terms offered from within an ideology [means] you have in essence already assented to that ideology.”5
Christopher Pollitt believed that the ideology of management was an unanswerable and unremarkable thesis.6 First, managerialism is “the assumption that better management…offers our societies the best chance of material progress.”7 Second, it is a distinctive activity, distinguishable from such things as “better policies, new technologies, or different kinds of constitutional arrangements.” Upon these two fundamental axioms is built a secondary level: managers have the right to manage; management is “an essentially dynamic force” (as opposed to “administration”); there is no distinction between public and private sectors; managerialism is essentially and morally prior to politics (the latter is “a realm of disorder, amateurism, short-sightedness, conflict and drama; the former is a realm of order, professionalism, dynamic, and strategic thinking.”8) In other words, both the ends and means justify managerialism compared with any other kind of human endeavour.9 The ideology of managerialism requires that the manager is known as “a moral agent working to achieve the greatest good, not only for their organizations, but for society as a whole.”10
What are those insights? What is administration, and how does it differ from management? Its history is a well-ploughed field, and the developmental model of Chandler and Redlich reflects a broadly accepted consensus. In this model recognizably modern business organizations began to develop in mid-nineteenth century through three phases: first a “single-product, single-function concern” (such as a shipping company or a mine); second, a “single-product, yet multi-function industrial concern” (such as a mill-owner taking advantage of the railway to transport his products directly to customers); third, a “multi-product and multi-function industrial concern” (such as a chemical company which produces “plastics, film, textile fibers” and so on).1 Through these phases the complexity of the organization increased in vertical and horizontal axes: vertical, in as much as it required “different functional activities” to be organized into different departments (such as, in the railway, transportation, traffic and finance)2; horizontal, in as much as industrial concerns began to sprawl “out over a large geographical area.”3
The multi-functioning of complex industrial organizations (CIOs) became the driving dynamic in the development of systems of administration: because different functions were involved in a single company, “the overall determination of profit and loss proved more difficult.”4 Complex negotiations between the allocation of resources and the assessment of profit led to complex decisions. Soon the administration of multi-function enterprises “pivoted” around departmental heads and the internal politicking which, inevitably, determined their interactions.5 It was necessary to coordinate the functions of the CIO. At first this was simple enough: a single man, the manager, was placed at the centre and summit of the organization:
The manager’s desk should be the Alpha and Omega of every transaction. It should also be the information bureau of the establishment. No work should be done without the manager’s authority and sanction.6
Thus a third factor came into play: operations and strategy were joined by management, that is, the means by which “centralized coordination, evaluation, and planning for the activities of a large number of sub-units” could be carried out within a single organization.7 The new type of organization, with a complexity never encountered before, “required the generation of internal operating, financial and cost data.”8 Balancing resources and allocating profits was expressed “through a flow of internal impersonal statistics,”9 the means by which CIOs could be controlled. And they were controlled through “a large number of specially, often technically trained managers.” They were “a new type of decision-making unit and…a new class of decision makers.10 In other words, CIOs came into being through the full realization of three factors: Manufacture; Growth; Management.
The early years of the Roman mission to Kent were anxious times for the missionaries: they were faced with a deeply heathen society, rather than the more familiar Arian heretics of northern Italy. How were they to deal with the culture, rituals and practices they found? A reverse mission was sent back to Rome carrying a package of questions. One of Pope Gregory’s replies set the seal on a particular Anglican form of pragmatism, of which Bridger’s theological reflection is a latter day example. On no account, says Gregory, are the pagan temples to be destroyed. They are to be emptied of their idols, asperged, and altars set up in them. In this way, the people might be “changed from the worship of devils to the service of the true God.” When the people “see that their shrines are not destroyed they will be able to banish error from their hearts and be more ready to come to the places they are familiar with, but now recognizing and worshipping the true God.”1
Gregory’s pragmatism would have appealed to Augustine, for, as Henry Mayr-Harting describes him, we see in the first Archbishop of Canterbury:
the man of affairs, organizing bishops’ sees, framing questions on law and administration to put to the pope, persuading and helping Ethelbert to draw up in writing a code of laws… making arrangements for the protection of church property, and conferring with British churchmen. …it is impossible to mistake the air of a man intent on doing a brisk and efficient piece of business.2
Thus we see Augustine’s expediency, a man who appreciated and acted upon the “insights of administration…creatively adopted and adapted for fruitful and competent administration by and in the church.”3
“Are you fed up with being an Ecclesiastical Manager?” said the headline of the advert, in bold letters. “Do you simply long to be that traditional Parish Priest that God once called you to be—and not be bound up in reams of paperwork?” Who could resist such temptations, even if it meant relocating to the Romney Marsh? Such were the blandishments advertised in The Church Times in February 2005.1 Heady, and innocent days, when it was still possible to pretend that priesthood and management could somehow be separated—even if the separation was open only to self-supporting ministers.
Since then the Church of England has introduced the Clergy Discipline Measure, Common Tenure, the standardization of fees and increased the demands of child and vulnerable adult protection.2 All of these measures require an increased degree of efficiency, professionalism and managerial expertise from its clergy.
The consequences of not being proficient are clear. In December 2007, the Rev’d David Faulks, rector of four rural parishes in Peterborough Diocese, was found “culpably inefficient” in his administration of parochial fees and the management of the parish magazine’s finances. His inability to “keep full and accurate financial records for the parish magazine,” with other charges, amounted to “neglect and inefficiency in the performance of his duties of office and financial conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to his office and work.” Despite having suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for four years, the unwillingness of any member of his parishes to manage the parish magazine, and the lack of any personal profit from the maladministration, he was given a two-year conditional discharge under the terms of the Clergy Discipline Measure.3
This is right and proper, in the current culture of the Church of England. After all, five years earlier the Convocations of Canterbury and York asked for guidelines on the professional conduct of clergy. The subsequent report used the ordination charge as an outline. Under the injunction “will you strive to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ?” we are told “Good administration enables good pastoral care.”4 Appended to the Guidelines was a “Theological Reflection” by Canon Francis Bridger which admonishes those who believe that guidelines are “a concession to managerialism.” Utilizing the insights of professionalism and management is better seen as “an attempt to work out in concrete terms the practice of vocation in a contemporary setting.”5 We need not be wary of “an unthinking acceptance of the cult of managerialism.”6
In this respect, Convocations and Canon Bridger are following in venerable footsteps, employing a missionary strategy as old as the recorded history of the church in England.
They are to be…stewards of the Lord…, that the whole Church may be built up in unity and faith.
Who would be a manager in the Church of England? Often there is an implicit and explicit contrast made between the roles, responsibilities and sensibilities of a manager and a priest. An advert for a House for Duty post contrasts the role of an “Ecclesiastical Manager” with that of a “traditional Parish Priest.” And yet, the responsibilities of efficient, transparent managing are now part and parcel of Clergy Terms and Conditions of Service and the Clergy Discipline Measure: if the paperwork isn’t completed then there are, properly, consequences.
What are the origins of managerialism, in the Church and in the secular world? Is managerialism best treated as an ethically neutral and effective means of getting things done? What might the teachings of Pope Gregory, Henry Mintzberg, and Michael Heseltine have to say to priests attempting to remain faithful to their ordination vows? Is it possible to be both a conscientious priest and a conscientious manager?