There was a clear separation between labor and management primarily focused on owners/ownership.
Second half of 20th Century workplace – Knowledge productivity
The problems created by the success of mechanised production were met with a solution—the introduction of the computer and the start of the information revolution. Knowledge created a new culture of business derived from the information gathering and analysis capabilities of first the mainframe and then the PC. The essence of knowledge was the people-centric office which focused on ever-improving analysis and decision-making to allocate capital, develop products and services, and coordinate the work across the globe.
The modern organisation model of a board of directors, executives, middle management, and employees grew out of these new capabilities. Management of these knowledge-centric organisations happened through an ever-increasing network of middle-managers. The definition of work changed and most employees were not directly involved in making things, but in analysing, coordinating, or servicing the products and services a company delivered.
Middle-management grew to spend their time researching, tabulating, reporting, and reconciling the information sources available. Knowledge is power in this environment. Management took over the role of resource allocation from owners and focused on decision-making as the primary effort, using knowledge and the skills of middle management to inform those choices.
A symbol of knowledge productivity might be the “meeting”. Meetings came to dominate the management culture of organisations. The essence of these meetings was to execute on a strategy—a commitment to create value, defend against competition, and to execute. The work products of meetings—the pre-reading memos, the presentations, the supporting analytics began to take on epic proportions. Staff organisations developed that shadowed the whole process.
Even with the broad availability of knowledge and information, companies still became trapped in the old ways of doing things, unable to adapt and change. With this era of information technology came the notion of companies too big and too slow to react to changes in the marketplace