From Jensen to Jensen: Mechanistic Management Education or Humanistic Management Learning?

  • Claus DierksmeierEmail author
Original Paper


Michael Jensen made a name for himself in the 1970s–1990 s with his ‘agency theory’ and its application to questions of corporate governance and economic policy. The effects of his theory were acutely felt in the pedagogics of business studies, as Jensen lent his authority to combat all attempts to integrate social considerations and moral values into business education. Lately, however, Michael Jensen has come to defend quite a different approach, promoting an ‘integrity theory’ of management learning. Jensen now rather aspires to empower students to give authentic expression to their personal values in their professional lives, and he sees the main function of management studies in assisting them in this effort. This article reconstructs the transformation of Jensen’s outlook, drawing on Jensen’s theories as an exemplar of wider trends in the current literature on management learning, away from a decidedly ‘mechanistic’ and towards a more ‘humanistic’ pedagogy of management. Jensen’s case serves to highlight developments that might make for better preconditions for the appreciation of business ethics on part of business students. On closer inspection, though, it appears that his remaining within a positivistic framework ultimately impedes the kind of progress Michael Jensen envisions for business studies.


Management education Humanistic management Agency theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by the author.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RottenburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Political ScienceTübingenGermany

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