Thursday, 2 February 2012

'Supremely Ignorant' - LSE Management Courses and Clerical Experience

I am interested in all areas of railway history from the pre-World War One period. Indeed, as my PhD covers so many of them, I have research questions consistently popping out of my head. One of my areas of interest is management training from the 1890s onwards. Indeed, from 1904 the London School of Economics operated a Railway Department to train future traffic managers, predominantly clerks, as the employment structure of companies meant that the vast majority of senior executives had only had working experiences on one promotional tree, and within one department. This was explained in 1911 by one of the LSE's lecturers, Mr W. Stephenson:-

'Students come from a variety of departments and offices. In many cases their knowledge of railway work is confined strictly to the limits of work done in their own departments, and often to only a small section of such work. Of the rest of the work of the railway they are supremely ignorant.'[1]

A small section of my PhD is about whether these courses actually improved management quality for the London and South Western Railway before 1914.


[1] London School of Economics Archive [LSE], Minutes, 14/2/1, 1904-1911, Memorandum by Mr Stephenson to the Advisory Committee on Railway Subjects, 13th February 1911

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