Talking horse sense

The verb manage comes from the Italian maneggiare (to handle — especially a horse), which in turn derives from the Latin manus (hand). The French word mesnagement (later ménagement) influenced the development in meaning of the English word management in the 17th and 18th centuries.

I lifted this etymology of the word management from Wikipedia. It interests me in more ways than one, not the least because I myself am going to attend a B school. The roots of the word management is strongly related to handling, especially the word manus(hand). It refers to hands on experience, the sort of “get your hands dirty” experience that comes only through the willingness to work.This quality was important in the 17th and 18th centuries, when formal training in management was unheard of. People started working at the grass root level and moved up the ranks through experience or dexterity. Compare this trait to the modern practice of seeing a business school degree as an extension of your UG education. Final year students seek to enter B schools directly from their colleges without having any real life work experience. Of course, in our modern world characterized by instant dissemination of information and knowledge, most intelligent students might be able to overcome this lacunae by building upon the experience of others. But the lack of personal experience will always remain a stumbling block for many management trainees.

It is also worth noting that the Italian word maneggiare was used to denote handling of horses. In the 17th and 18th centuries, in the absence of faster forms of transportation, horses formed the backbone of human traffic and logistics. The very fact that the word management derives from a word used to denote handling of horses shows the importance that people attached to management.

On a lighter note, the word sophomore, commonly used to denote a second year student in a university, is said to be derived from the Greek words “sopho” meaning “wise” and “moros”, meaning “foolish”. The assumption is that a second year student is wiser than a fresher, but not wise enough that he or she may be considered fit to graduate.Put simply,they are regarded as self-assured and opinionated but crude and immature. Now, most prestigious B school courses last only two years, meaning that the students graduate in their sophomore years (at least, what can be called a sophomore year from the perspective of the university). Think about it…..

4 thoughts on “Talking horse sense

  1. Looks like you are boning up on a bit of the history of the subject before you head out to IIMB. But these are pretty interesting etymologies that you have dug up.

    Just for the sake of debate, I would like to argument here. In all their academic years, right from kindergarten to college, people participate in various activities of management. Whether it be getting your classmates to line up in a queue, organizing a class skit, playing along with your teammates in a cricket match, standing for the posts of student representative, managing the nitty gritty of club activities or handling the massive finances that go along with a college level cul/tech festival. All of these building blocks, I feel, do help form the foundation that would support us during our formal management training. Isn’t that the reason why one of the primary criteria for selection of candidates at premier institutes is the ‘participation in extracurricular activities’?
    In my opinion, management schools don’t teach us anything new about the fundamental principles of management that we learn through years of trial and error. It just shows us how to apply them more effectively and also teaches us about the new rules of the game that exist in the corporate world which we are to be stepping into.

    Perhaps ‘sophomores’ are the one of the causes of the state the world is in today 😀 . A quote by Bertrand Russell that might explain a lot…

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

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