Guest reviewers choice

Management and organisational behaviour
This months Guest Reviewer is Kevin Rowswell who has chosen as his book selection - Management and organisational behaviour, Laurie J Mullins

Book review by Kevin Rowswell - Management and organisational behaviour, Laurie J Mullins 

FT Publishing International; 10th edition, 2013  ISBN: 978-0273792642

When asked to recommend texts for new managers and students I usually propose three texts which reflect my holistic approach to management.  I believe strongly that ‘good’ managers need to understand the relationships between (a) the way an organisation functions, and how it might function better, (b) the values and culture within which function is embedded and (c) the safeguarding and maximisation of function and values through learning and development.  

My three current texts are Management and Organisational Behaviour, Laurie J Mullins, (Pearson, 2013), Ethics Theory and Business Practice, Mick Fryer, (Sage, 2015) and Informal Learning at Work, Paul Matthews, (3 Faces Publishing, 2013). 

Of these, Mullins is the book I would hope to have to hand if I was shipwrecked with a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced students who showed potential to manage the situation and grow the opportunities it presented. 

Mullins is a long-standing, classic and regularly updated text which many will recognise immediately. 

Why is it so popular?  Mullins’ approach is systematic, direct, non-patronising and accessible.  Mullins provides clear explanations of fundamental management concepts and their application. With updates taking account new developments, understanding and ideas the text remains fresh and relevant.

Did I find it useful? Certainly, and I still do. The two key learning points I continue to take from Mullens are, first, that management theory is only as useful as its application and testing in the real world. And, second, that the link between management, or more accurately management action or inaction, and the behaviours of and within organisations are inseparable.  

I frequently return to Mullins to remind myself of the context of original ideas which are nowadays increasingly and rightly, in terms of transparency and accountability, under challenge in complex operational and policy environments for all kinds of businesses and organisations. 

Who might find Mullins useful?  It is not quite a beginner’s book but it is certainly the first book to begin dipping into as soon as anyone takes on responsibility for organising people or facilities. Used early on in development of management thinking it will immediately challenge those preconceptions many who enter management have about its purpose, operation and efficacy. Used later in career development it provides a tool for reflection against which to view methods and application of basic principles and to develop new thinking. Crucially, the simplicity of Mullins approach to the topic can keep us grounded as individuals and managers. 

***** Five stars – no question. 

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Biography - Kevin J Rowswell, FCMI, FRSA, FBILD, MInstLM

Kevin Rowswell

From his early experience in the family business, Kevin has maintained an interest in the relationship between skills and learning, organisational culture and performance and the role of effective communication for achieving both business and personal success. He readily acknowledges that his two strongest drivers in life and business have always been efficiency and social justice.

Often serving as potentially conflicting aims in business, Kevin believes much of the recent economic challenges faced by the UK in particular stem from a drive for efficiency at the cost of social justice. The net result is loss of credibly in those very institutions and professions, whether business or political, which need public confidence in order to rebalance and re prioritise. He believes much of this has occurred at the very time when that trust and confidence has been substantially undermined by the actions of some members of those same institutions and professions.

He also considers that some of the fundamental issues remain unresolved and a continuing threat particularly because the increased complexity of business has mostly been perceived as opportunity for acquisition instead than creating independent but related synergies between businesses. It’s easy to buy out or destroy your competitor. Once you have achieved that outcome you simply create one monolith after another. This reduces capacity and limits the ability to see beyond narrow self-interest. It takes much more imagination to create partnerships which allow collaboration, identified areas of competition but which crucially allow each partner to continue doing what they do best. He believes that a complete reappraisal of business culture is needed if the current ‘recovery’ is not to fall into the same traps as before – and within a very short period of time.
Kevin’s management and business experience encompasses major corporations, local and national government, politics, charities and small businesses. He has served on a number of boards covering interests in arts, economic regeneration, housing and strategic workforce development. He is currently Director of Academically Speaking which delivers specialist theory based and context specific communications programmes and coaching to professionals working business, administration, academia, and political and civic life. 
Kevin is a volunteer Member of the Gold Mentoring Scheme at his Alma Mater, the University of Manchester and shares his business management experience by support to students considering their career options.

He is also Founder of The Word Studio, a community based organisation which uses acting, theatre and performance techniques to develop confidence, ambition and personal skills amongst groups and communities.

As an Educationalist, Kevin also writes, reviews and develops learning programmes and materials across professional boundaries.  When time permits, Kevin can be found on the water – either under sail or putting a RIB through its paces. Either way, it’s a break from the desk job...and a perfect way to make new contacts.

He can be contacted via  or on 0845 625 0740.

Kevin's LinkedIn page

Acedemically Speaking -