American Management Association

views updated May 29 2018

American Management Association

1601 Broadway
New York, New York 10019-7406
Telephone: (212) 586-8100
Toll Free: (800) 262-9699
Fax: (212) 903-8168
Web site:

Not-for-Profit Company
Employees: 700
Sales: $129 million (2003)
NAIC: 611000 Educational Services

The American Management Association is a global, not-for-profit, membership-based management development organization. With its headquarters located in New York City, AMA offers a wide range of business education and management development programs to individuals, businesses, and government agencies, covering such topics as manufacturing, sales and marketing, human resources, communication, finance and accounting, and International management. The information is disseminated through 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, the origins of the Association lay in the education of workers. Until the middle of the 1800s, Americans primarily learned a skill on the job from people who were doing the work already, whether it was learning how to be a printer or an attorney. Many trades had a formal apprenticeship program in which young people learned from a master, became journeymen, and eventually established their own practices and became master craftsmen themselves. Thus, traditional education and job training were kept separate, as people generally quit school to learn a trade. The combination of formal education and vocational preparation was a much later construct. The rise of industrialization, however, began to have a dramatic effect on the prevailing system, with a large number of skills superseded by technology. Many artisans were replaced by hourly employees who needed to learn very specific skills to operate the new machinery. Apprenticeships in these fields were now replaced by a makeshift combination of on-the-job technical training and 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 them into the culture. In 1872 the R. Hoe Company, a printing press manufacturer, became the first company to launch the "corporation school," which combined technical and academic training. Other major companies followed the example, such as General Electric and the New York Central Railroad. The goal was not philanthropic; it was to groom better workers, people who were able to adjust to a rationalized industrialize process. In the late 1880s American industry was heavy influenced by the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the man with the stopwatch who became the champion of efficiency and productivity. A primary objective of the corporation schools was to train workers in the new ways of efficiency, while the offer of night classes for personal advancement and fulfillment was in large part a perk to dissuade workers from 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 reflected in the formal objectives of the new organization: "Corporations are realizing more and more the importance of education in the efficient management of their business. The Company school had been sufficiently tried out as a method of increasing efficiency to warrant its continuance as an industrial factor." The NACS now became a driving force in workforce education, while fighting against the idea of public 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 another organization, The National Association of Employment Managers, which was founded in 1918. This new group changed its name to the Industrial Relations Association of America. Following the war, the two groups merged forming the National Personnel Association in 1922. At the time, there was a major split in the personnel management field, with one side believing that anything having to do with employees was the sole province of the personnel manager, while the other saw the personnel manager in a more supportive role.

In 1923, the Association directors met and changed the name to the American Management Association, a name that better reflected the organization's philosophy and refined mission. It was now more of a managers association than a coordinator of workers' educational programs. The 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. Universities, 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 discuss workplace concerns and practices, much of which dealt with the "human element in commerce and industry." The "human element" was little more than code for "labor relations," a term which itself was pregnant with implications. The period following World War I provided fertile soil for the rise of Socialism, resulting in a Red Scare. Poor working conditions and wage inequalities led to labor unrest and calls for unionism, which business leaders believed was spurred on by Socialists 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 different subjects to address, AMA soon created separate divisions for finance managers, production managers, marketers and the like. Each division then held a annual conference specifically designed to address the needs of its participants. The upper ranks of management met in AMA-sponsored executive meetings where big picture ideas were discussed, such as the concept of "Work Councils" and "Democracy in Industry," which embraced the notion that education for workers and democracy could ward off the threat of Socialism. After the stock market crash in 1929 and the country was plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, the AMA began to advocate progressive positions on the issues of the day. It was perhaps more a pragmatic than enlightened stance, given the mood of the country that led to the election of Franklin Roosevelt, who had the clear mandate of the public to make sweeping changes to the way business was conducted in the United States, especially in terms of labor relations. The president's "New Deal" legislation strengthened the hand of unions. The National Labor Relations Act provided workers with the right to organize and bargain as a group, 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 New 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 Depression, that AMA research began to weigh in on the issue of equality in 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 dramatically by military enlistments and the draft. The report shared best practices of AMA member companies and listed the high-skill jobs held by African Americans. It was the opportunities afforded African Americans, however limited, during World War II that served as a starting point for the Civil Rights movement in subsequent years. In 1943 the AMA issued a similar report about women production workers, urging supervisors not to confuse a woman's mechanical familiarity with mechanical aptitude, arguing that there was no essential difference between men and women in performing jobs, just opportunity. The AMA also played its part in the war effort, essentially serving as a communications conduit between the government and member companies. AMA conferences were often used as a place where new government programs could be announced and explained. Moreover, executives from AMA member companies filled key government jobs during the war. AMA's vice-president on its personnel division, Lawrence A. Appley, headed the War Manpower Commission.

Postwar Contributions

After the war, the AMA made contributions on other fronts. In 1946 the Association's annual report urged corporations to prepare more illuminating financial reports, then in 1948 the organization urged better cooperation with unions, its report arguing that "instead of reducing management's revenue producing powers, such cooperation increases them." It was also in 1948 that Appley became president of AMA, a position he would hold for the next 20 years. Under his leadership, the organization would move well beyond the research it conducted and conferences it hosted to become a leader in business training seminars. The son of a Methodist minister, Appley worked his way through college, 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 money to complete his education, teaching school and working for a while as a New York City streetcar conductor. He would later teach at Colgate University and hold executive positions at Mobil Oil, Vick Chemical 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.

Company Perspectives:

No one knows training better than American Management Association. Since 1923, the business community had turned to AMA for the practical training and business tools needed to improve individual and organizational performanceand achieve bottom-line results.

Appley would write or co-author six books on management principles. It was under his leadership that AMA in 1949 began to sponsor workshop seminars that allowed managers to meet, share, and essentially educate themselves. Out of this grew other types of programs, such as continuing education courses for different professional functions, and "orientation" seminars, which essentially helped executives to gain cross-functionality by learning about other areas of their business. In 1952 AMA launched an executive training program, The Management Course, which would become a mainstay of the organization. It would consist of one-week sessions devoted to four areasmanagement, finance, marketing, and leadershipand 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 1950s. After a surprise dip in the economy in 1958, the association hosted a special Economic Mobilization Conference, where President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the keynote address and top executives from the largest corporations convened with government officials to discuss recovery plans.

The AMA began expanding beyond the United States in 1961 when it opened the Management Centre Europe in Brussels. Five years later a center opened in Mexico City, followed by the Canadian Management Center in 1974, AMA-Japan in 1993, the Asia Pacific Management Institute in Shanghai in 1995, and AMA-Latin America in 1996. During the 1960s AMA centers also opened in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, 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 publishing division called AMACOM to produce practice-oriented management books. Appley led the way, publishing The Management Evolution through AMACOM in 1963. His 1956 title, Management in Action, would also be published by AMACOM, as would three more management books in 1969, 1970, and 1974. In 1981 Appley co-authored his last book 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 the journal Organizational Dynamics.

AMA expanded in other ways during the 1960s. The Association started Operation Enterprise, a program to inform high school and college students about possible business careers. Onsite training was now provided 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 when 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 University of the State of New York.

Appley's retirement coincided with a downturn in the United States economy and a host of fresh challenges facing government and business leaders. AMA forums would become a place to discuss problems that included inflation, productivity, environmental concerns, and foreign competition. 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 research and AMACOM books that maintained companies could produce higher quality products at a lower cost if the quality of processes were improved. In later years AMA worked with Motorola to develop supply management 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 technology. In 1985 the Association began broadcasting its briefings and forums by satellite. AMA also championed the use of bar coding for inventory control and other uses through a number of seminars that demonstrated to managers how to take advantage of the technology. AMA seminars would also provide a venue for contemporary accounting practices such as activity-based costing. When the Internet came on the scene 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 classes and used its Web site as a repository for dozens of multimedia self-directed training classes. AMA also combined electronic media with print, producing book and CD-ROM combinations.

The 1990s saw AMA grow on a number of other fronts. The Padgett-Thompson training organization was bought in 1991, expanding the Association's subject matter as well as geographic reach. The Growing Companies Division was launched to cater to the needs of small to mid-sized businesses. To accommodate the growth of the Association, AMA moved into new state-of-the-art facilities in the Times Square section of New York City in 1996.

Key Dates:

National Association of Corporate Schools (NACS) formed.
NACS merges with Industrial Relations Association of America.
American Management Association name adopted.
Lawrence Appley named president.
AMA centers formed in Canada and Europe.
Publishing Division, AMACOM, established.
Five management education organizations consolidated into AMA.
AMA center established in China.

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 include the people who assisted managers when it forged an alliance with the National Association of Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants. NAESAA members would now be able to take advantage of AMA's classes, services, and resources. By now, more than 100,000 people around the world attended AMA seminars. All told more than 25,000 people and 3,000 organizations in some 90 countries were members of the Association.

Principal Subsidiaries


Further Reading

"AMA and NAESAA Form Alliance," OfficeSolutions, March-April 2005, p. 12.

Fagiano, David, "AMA Expands into China," Management Review, March 1996, p. 5.

Jones, Bodil, "AMA Expands European Operations," Management Review, January 1996, p. 34.

"The Power of Management: 75 Years of Leadership for Business and Industry," American Management Association, 1998.

Scheid, Fred M., "'How Did Humans Become Resources Anyway?'" paper presented at the University of Alberta in Edmonton Adult Education Research Conference, 1995.

Stone, Florence, "AMA: Building Management Excellence for 80 Years," MWorld, Fall 2003, p. 74.

American Management Association

views updated May 29 2018


The American Management Association (AMA) is the world's leading membership-based management development organization. The business education and management development programs offered by the AMA provide its members and customers the opportunity to learn superior business skills and the best management practices available. The AMA fulfills this goal through a variety of seminars, conferences, assessments, customized learning solutions, books, and online resources. The range of programs offered by the AMA includes finance, human resources, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and international management, as well as numerous others.

The philosophy of the AMA is to be a nonprofit, membership-based educational organization that assists individuals and enterprises in the development of organizational effectiveness, which is the primary sustainable competitive advantage in a global economy. A major goal of the AMA is to identify the best management practices worldwide to provide assessment, design, development, self-development, and instruction services. The AMA meets this goal with an abundance of print and electronic media and learning methodologies, which are designed for the sole purpose of enhancing the growth of individuals and organizations.

The origins of the AMA can be traced back to 1913, when the National Association of Corporation Schools was founded. Around 1922, the National Association of Corporation Schools merged with the Industrial Relations Association of America, which had been founded in 1918. The result of the merger was the National Personnel Association. Shortly after the merger, in 1923, the National Personnel Association's board of directors chose the new name of the American Management Association. The modern AMA, as it is known in the early twenty-first century, began with a consolidation of five closely related national associations, which were all dedicated to management education. The consolidation of the organizations into one organization prompted the regents of the State University of New York to grant the AMA the title of an educational organization.

The AMA offers numerous beneficial programs aimed at a variety of people. In addition to its traditional programs, the AMA also provides programs for high school and college students and has special partnerships with local management training organizations. More information is available from the American Management Association at 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; (212) 586-8100 (phone), (212) 903-8168 (fax), (800) 262-9699 (customer service); or

see also Management

Nikole M. Pogeman

About this article

American Management Association

All Sources -
Updated Aug 08 2016 About content Print Topic


American Management Association