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American Management Association Business Information, Profile, and History

ama seminars training education

1601 Broadway
New York, New York 10019-7406
U.S.A.

Company Perspectives:

No one knows training better than American Management Association. Si nce 1923, the business community had turned to AMA for the practical training and business tools needed to improve individual and organiza tional performance--and achieve bottom-line results.

History of American Management Association

The American Management Association is a global, not-for-profit, memb ership-based management development organization. With its headquarte rs located in New York City, AMA offers a wide range of business educ ation and management development programs to individuals, businesses, and government agencies, covering such topics as manufacturing, sale s and marketing, human resources, communication, finance and accounti ng, and International management. The information is disseminated thr ough assessments, books and other publications, seminars, conferences , forums, briefings, and online self-study courses.

1800s Origins

Although today's AMA is geared toward management-level individuals, t he origins of the Association lay in the education of workers. Until the middle of the 1800s, Americans primarily learned a skill on the j ob from people who were doing the work already, whether it was learni ng how to be a printer or an attorney. Many trades had a formal appre nticeship program in which young people learned from a master, became journeymen, and eventually established their own practices and becam e master craftsmen themselves. Thus, traditional education and job tr aining were kept separate, as people generally quit school to learn a trade. The combination of formal education and vocational preparatio n was a much later construct. The rise of industrialization, however, began to have a dramatic effect on the prevailing system, with a lar ge number of skills superseded by technology. Many artisans were repl aced by hourly employees who needed to learn very specific skills to operate the new machinery. Apprenticeships in these fields were now r eplaced by a makeshift combination of on-the-job technical training a nd some academic training added to the mix. Given that many of these new workers were immigrants it was in the best interest of employers to help them learn English as a second language and to assimilate the m into the culture. In 1872 the R. Hoe Company, a printing press manu facturer, became the first company to launch the "corporation school, " which combined technical and academic training. Other major compani es followed the example, such as General Electric and the New York Ce ntral Railroad. The goal was not philanthropic; it was to groom bette r workers, people who were able to adjust to a rationalized industria lize process. In the late 1880s American industry was heavy influence d by the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the man with the stopwatch who became the champion of efficiency and productivity. A primary ob jective of the corporation schools was to train workers in the new wa ys of efficiency, while the offer of night classes for personal advan cement and fulfillment was in large part a perk to dissuade workers f rom taking an interest in unionism.

In 1913, 35 of the largest corporation schools, with New York Edison company at the head, joined together to form the National Association of Corporation Schools. The influence of Taylor on management was re flected in the formal objectives of the new organization: "Corporatio ns are realizing more and more the importance of education in the eff icient management of their business. The Company school had been suff iciently tried out as a method of increasing efficiency to warrant it s continuance as an industrial factor." The NACS now became a driving force in workforce education, while fighting against the idea of pub lic scrutiny. With the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917, NACS played a role in the mobilization of industry, as did ano ther organization, The National Association of Employment Managers, w hich was founded in 1918. This new group changed its name to the Indu strial Relations Association of America. Following the war, the two g roups merged forming the National Personnel Association in 1922. At t he time, there was a major split in the personnel management field, w ith one side believing that anything having to do with employees was the sole province of the personnel manager, while the other saw the p ersonnel manager in a more supportive role.

In 1923, the Association directors met and changed the name to the Am erican Management Association, a name that better reflected the organ ization's philosophy and refined mission. It was now more of a manage rs association than a coordinator of workers' educational programs. T he Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 funded vocational education in the public school system, while technical high schools, correspondence schools, and proprietary schools also emerged to meet the needs of workers. U niversities, on the other hand, aligned themselves with corporations, assuming the task of educating the aspiring management ranks. AMA's role was to provide business leaders with a chance to meet and discus s workplace concerns and practices, much of which dealt with the "hum an element in commerce and industry." The "human element" was little more than code for "labor relations," a term which itself was pregnan t with implications. The period following World War I provided fertil e soil for the rise of Socialism, resulting in a Red Scare. Poor work ing conditions and wage inequalities led to labor unrest and calls fo r unionism, which business leaders believed was spurred on by Sociali sts and their radical brethren.

AMA added to its scope in 1924 by absorbing the National Association of Sales Managers. Because different types of executives had differen t subjects to address, AMA soon created separate divisions for financ e managers, production managers, marketers and the like. Each divisio n then held a annual conference specifically designed to address the needs of its participants. The upper ranks of management met in AMA-s ponsored executive meetings where big picture ideas were discussed, s uch as the concept of "Work Councils" and "Democracy in Industry," wh ich embraced the notion that education for workers and democracy coul d ward off the threat of Socialism. After the stock market crash in 1 929 and the country was plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930 s, however, the AMA began to advocate progressive positions on the is sues of the day. It was perhaps more a pragmatic than enlightened sta nce, given the mood of the country that led to the election of Frankl in Roosevelt, who had the clear mandate of the public to make sweepin g changes to the way business was conducted in the United States, esp ecially in terms of labor relations. The president's "New Deal" legis lation strengthened the hand of unions. The National Labor Relations Act provided workers with the right to organize and bargain as a grou p, and the government showed a willingness to intervene if necessary. AMA's General Management Conference became an important forum where business and government leaders could air their views. Some of the Ne w Deal legislation would be struck down by the Supreme Court in 1936, but by this time the AMA and business leaders realized that it made more sense to address workplace problems themselves, rather than have the government intervene.

It was during World War II, which lifted the country out of the Depre ssion, that AMA research began to weigh in on the issue of equality i n the workplace brought on by the war effort. In 1942 the AMA issued a research report that advocated the need for African Americans to be better incorporated into the work force, which had been thinned dram atically by military enlistments and the draft. The report shared bes t practices of AMA member companies and listed the high-skill jobs he ld by African Americans. It was the opportunities afforded African Am ericans, however limited, during World War II that served as a starti ng point for the Civil Rights movement in subsequent years. In 1943 t he AMA issued a similar report about women production workers, urging supervisors not to confuse a woman's mechanical familiarity with mec hanical aptitude, arguing that there was no essential difference betw een men and women in performing jobs, just opportunity. The AMA also played its part in the war effort, essentially serving as a communica tions conduit between the government and member companies. AMA confer ences were often used as a place where new government programs could be announced and explained. Moreover, executives from AMA member comp anies filled key government jobs during the war. AMA's vice-president on its personnel division, Lawrence A. Appley, headed the War Manpow er Commission.

Postwar Contributions

After the war, the AMA made contributions on other fronts. In 1946 th e Association's annual report urged corporations to prepare more illu minating financial reports, then in 1948 the organization urged bette r cooperation with unions, its report arguing that "instead of reduci ng management's revenue producing powers, such cooperation increases them." It was also in 1948 that Appley became president of AMA, a pos ition he would hold for the next 20 years. Under his leadership, the organization would move well beyond the research it conducted and con ferences it hosted to become a leader in business training seminars. The son of a Methodist minister, Appley worked his way through colleg e, eventually graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio Wesleyan University . Along the way he worked in a cafeteria, drove a truck, served as a motorcycle policeman, and even quit for a year to save up enough mone y to complete his education, teaching school and working for a while as a New York City streetcar conductor. He would later teach at Colga te University and hold executive positions at Mobil Oil, Vick Chemica l Company, and Montgomery Ward. Along with his stint heading the War Manpower Commission, Appley was uniquely qualified to understand the differences between workers and management, business and government, and business and academia.

Appley would write or co-author six books on management principles. I t was under his leadership that AMA in 1949 began to sponsor workshop seminars that allowed managers to meet, share, and essentially educa te themselves. Out of this grew other types of programs, such as cont inuing education courses for different professional functions, and "o rientation" seminars, which essentially helped executives to gain cro ss-functionality by learning about other areas of their business. In 1952 AMA launched an executive training program, The Management Cours e, which would become a mainstay of the organization. It would consis t of one-week sessions devoted to four areas--management, finance, ma rketing, and leadership--and focus on real-world situations.

As had been the case during World War II, the AMA continued to serve as an intermediary between industry and the government during the 195 0s. After a surprise dip in the economy in 1958, the association host ed a special Economic Mobilization Conference, where President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the keynote address and top executives from the l argest corporations convened with government officials to discuss rec overy plans.

The AMA began expanding beyond the United States in 1961 when it open ed the Management Centre Europe in Brussels. Five years later a cente r opened in Mexico City, followed by the Canadian Management Center i n 1974, AMA-Japan in 1993, the Asia Pacific Management Institute in S hanghai in 1995, and AMA-Latin America in 1996. During the 1960s AMA centers also opened in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washingto n, D.C.

The AMA also became increasingly more concerned with publishing. The seminars it hosted led to the printing of booklets to be distributed to AMA member. Then, in 1963, the association established a book publ ishing division called AMACOM to produce practice-oriented management books. Appley led the way, publishing The Management Evolution I>through AMACOM in 1963. His 1956 title, Management in Action, would also be published by AMACOM, as would three more management b ooks in 1969, 1970, and 1974. In 1981 Appley co-authored his last boo k to be published by AMACOM. AMA also launched a venue that provided a spring board for a number of unknown writers. In 1972 it founded th e journal Organizational Dynamics.

AMA expanded in other ways during the 1960s. The Association started Operation Enterprise, a program to inform high school and college stu dents about possible business careers. On-site training was now provi ded by way of programmed instruction and videotape, and briefing and seminars were created to supplement AMA conferences and workshops.

Appley retired as president in 1968, but stayed on as AMA's chairman another six years, only leaving after AMA took a major step in 1973 w hen it consolidated the operations of five national associations that provided management education services. AMA was then able to receive recognition as an educational institution from the Regents of the Un iversity of the State of New York.

Appley's retirement coincided with a downturn in the United States ec onomy and a host of fresh challenges facing government and business l eaders. AMA forums would become a place to discuss problems that incl uded inflation, productivity, environmental concerns, and foreign com petition. AMA reports and books suggested solutions. During the late 1970s members were concerned with becoming low-cost producers, which led to the outsourcing of manufacturing to countries with cheap labor and the roots of the service economy at home. The 1980s then brought the concept of "Quality Renaissance," an idea promoted by AMA resear ch and AMACOM books that maintained companies could produce higher qu ality products at a lower cost if the quality of processes were impro ved. In later years AMA worked with Motorola to develop supply manage ment seminars, which then led to AMACOM books on the subject.

Technology Embraced in 1980s

During the 1980s AMA continued to show a willingness to embrace new t echnology. In 1985 the Association began broadcasting its briefings a nd forums by satellite. AMA also championed the use of bar coding for inventory control and other uses through a number of seminars that d emonstrated to managers how to take advantage of the technology. AMA seminars would also provide a venue for contemporary accounting pract ices such as activity-based costing. When the Internet came on the sc ene in the 1990s, AMA not only held seminars to show managers how to use the tool in a variety of ways, the association launched Online cl asses and used its Web site as a repository for dozens of multimedia self-directed training classes. AMA also combined electronic media wi th print, producing book and CD-ROM combinations.

The 1990s saw AMA grow on a number of other fronts. The Padgett-Thomp son training organization was bought in 1991, expanding the Associati on's subject matter as well as geographic reach. The Growing Companie s Division was launched to cater to the needs of small to mid-sized b usinesses. To accommodate the growth of the Association , AMA moved i nto new state-of-the-art facilities in the Times Square section of Ne w York City in 1996.

In the 2000s AMA launched a new quarterly journal, MWorld, for members and customers. The Association's web site was also beefed up with Members-only content. In 2005 AMA broadened its reach to includ e the people who assisted managers when it forged an alliance with th e National Association of Executive Secretaries and Administrative As sistants. NAESAA members would now be able to take advantage of AMA's classes, services, and resources. By now, more than 100,000 people a round the world attended AMA seminars. All told more than 25,000 peop le and 3,000 organizations in some 90 countries were members of the A ssociation.

Principal Subsidiaries: AMACOM.

Chronology

  • Key Dates:
  • 1913: National Association of Corporate Schools (NACS) formed.
  • 1922: NACS merges with Industrial Relations Association of Ame rica.
  • 1923: American Management Association name adopted.
  • 1948: Lawrence Appley named president.
  • 1961: AMA centers formed in Canada and Europe.
  • 1963: Publishing Division, AMACOM, established.
  • 1973: Five management education organizations consolidated int o AMA.
  • 1996: AMA center established in China.
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