Management education was a long established subject of study at UMIST. As the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, it had been one of the pioneers in this area, when it set up the Department of Industrial Administration in 1918. The Department had been backed by leading Manchester industrialists such as Samuel Turner and Charles Renold. Its first Director was A F Kent, who was recruited from the University of Bristol, and had made his name in industrial psychology.
In 1926 the Department was recognised an "an integral department in the College". It offered a range of short courses for both University and vocational students, including a one-year diploma course and special courses in "administration" for engineers and for chemists. Department staff also undertook extra-mural work, delivering lectures for local businesses. Although the inter-war period proved difficult for the Department, during the Second World War concerns about post-war economic reconstruction led to renewed interest in management education. The Department was active in these discussions; it sponsored a conference on "Training for Industrial Management" in May 1945, and it was involved with the Manchester Joint Research Board, which had been set up in 1944 to bring together University academics and local industries. The Department also published a series of Mon graphs on Higher Management, based on lectures delivered at the Department by leading theorists like Lyndall Urwick and Wilfred Brown.
Under the Principalship of Vivian Bowden, appointed in 1952, Manchester College of Science and Technology (as the College became in 1956) underwent a major expansion. Although Bowden himself had no great interest in management as an academic subject, the subject came to be seen of considerable importance to the College's broader aims of developing close and mutually beneficial relations with industry. Bowden recruited Reginald Revans to the chair of management in 1955. Revans (1907-2003) was a highly original management thinker, well-known for his work on Action Learning, and he successfully developed Department's research profile, particularly in areas like work study and productivity.
In 1963, the Franks Report on management education recommended setting up business schools in London and Manchester. The Department had hoped to be the nucleus of the Manchester school, but in the event, Manchester Business School was established independently of the Department (with closer links to the University of Manchester). It was MBS which would take responsibility for teaching the master of business administration (MBA) degree. The Department's response to this was innovative; it developed management education as an undergraduate subject, and UMIST was the first university to offer an undergraduate degree in management sciences in 1965. The degree was offered at both honours and ordinary level, and included modules in industrial finance and control, operational research, marketing, industrial engineering and behavioural science. The Department continued to teach masters degrees and Ph.D.s, as well as joint degrees, such as the degree of Engineering Manufacture and Management developed in the late 1970s.
In 1965 the Department was renamed the Department of Management Sciences, and by the early 1970s it had become the largest undergraduate department at UMIST. The significant increase in student and staff numbers required the department to move to new premises in the Maths and Social Sciences tower in 1970.
Under the leadership of Ronald Beresford Dew, significant academic appointments were made including Roland Smith, Leonard Neal, Peter Smith, Ken Lomax, Cary Cooper, John Goodman and Bob Hollier. They helped develop the Department's growing reputation for research. This was recognized when the Department was classed as "outstanding" by the UGC in its research assessment of 1986. The Manchester School of Management (as the Department was renamed in 1988) continued to be one of the best performers in both the Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) and teaching quality exercises up to 2004.
The 1990s saw greater cooperation between the School of Management, Manchester Business School and the University of Manchester's Department of Accounting and Finance (DAF). In 1990 a joint degree in accounting with the Department of Accounting and Finance was offered, and in December 1990 there was agreement in principle to establish a federal school of business, comprising MSM, MBS and DAF. This was achieved in 1994 when the Manchester Federal School of Business and Management was established with MSM, MBS, DAF and a University of Manchester research unit, Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (PREST) as members. The primary purpose of the Federal School was to encourage cooperation in research in areas of shared interest and expertise. This led to the creation of research centres such as the Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition the Financial Services Research Centre and the Quality Management Research Centre.
In 1995, the School undertook a major reform of the B. Sc. degree, introducing five specialised variants (decision science, employment and organization, human resources, international business economics, and marketing). Degrees in international management with French, German and American Business Studies were launched. The School also taught management modules to students on other degree courses such as computer sciences, physics,and maths. External collaborations were developed with the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Times Publishing of Singapore and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In August 1998 the School of Management moved to a new building at Booth Street, close to the MBS and School of Accounting and Finance. By 2000 the School had over a thousand students and over 100 staff. In 2004, with the creation of The University of Manchester, the Federal School was dissolved and MSM, MBS, School of Accounting and Finance, and Institute of Innovation Research (IoIR) amalgamated to form a new body, known as the Manchester Business School, which was part of the Faculty of Humanities.