History of the department

LSE has a rich tradition of research and education in business and management.

We aspire to carry the ideals of the School forward into the future.

Department of Management established in 2007

By around the year 2000, LSE encompassed its business and management disciplines in five academic units: the Department of Accounting and Finance, the Interdisciplinary Institute of Management, the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Information Systems, and the Department of Operational Research. These units had developed organically over the years, and the decision was taken to rationalise and reorganise them.

In 2007 the Department of Management was established, bringing together four long-standing, and previously separate, academic units (the Interdisciplinary Institute of Management, the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Information Systems and the Department of Operational Research) into one new integrated department. 

Although recently established in its current form, the roots of our department are intertwined with LSE’s history since its founding, and we aspire to carry the ideals of the School forward into the future.

Founding era

The LSE was founded by social and economic pioneers Beatrice and Sidney Webb in 1895, with a clear mission to contribute to ‘the betterment of society’.

From the outset, the School was at the frontier in developing social sciences as academic fields (especially economics, sociology, anthropology, and social research methods), and exploring the practical application of the social sciences (social policy and administration, accountancy, transport economics, and public administration). A culture of academic discovery and higher learning, applied to cutting-edge practical fields which could drive real positive change in society, was built into the School’s DNA from the outset. 

In keeping with the School’s focus on practical disciplines, vocational courses in ‘commerce and industry’ (encompassing subjects we now recognise as business, management and public administration) were offered from 1902, and the academic destined to become the School’s first Professor of Accounting and Business Organisation arrived in 1904.

Post-World War II

After the end of World War II, the first undergraduate degree in commerce (B.Comm) was launched, and the School established a Department of Business Administration, Training and Research in 1930.

The following decades were a vibrant era for business, management and public administration within the School, and Diploma courses in Personnel Management and Trade Union Studies were introduced. The School responded to trends of formalisation and computerisation with appointments in statistics, mathematics, computational methods, and operational research. By the early 1960s, the School had departments for Accounting, Industrial Relations, Computational Methods, and Operational Research. The School became a model of research in the social sciences. 

In the mid-1960s, the issue of whether a graduate school of business should be established in the capital (as well as in Manchester) was on the agenda of government, business groups, and the University of London. The idea of a Joint School of Administration, Economics, and Technology (between LSE and Imperial) was floated, but did not come to fruition. The outcome was that the London Graduate School of Business Studies (known today as the London School of Business (LBS)) opened its doors in 1965.

In contrast, the LSE took a stance against separating business and management from other social science disciplines in this way, and the Director of the School (currently known as LSE President and Vice Chancellor) at that time, Sydney Caine, wrote: “there is a tendency outside the School to take a narrow view of education for management and to forget the part that the general study of the social sciences in their different aspects can play.” The decision was taken to maintain fully integrated departments within the LSE covering fields related to business, management and public administration, rather than to establish a separate Business School.