Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research
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Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research

Theory and Application

Edited by Debra Howcroft and Eileen M. Trauth

This important Handbook provides a unique overview of information systems (IS) research by focusing on the increasing interest in critical-related issues.
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Chapter 9: Critical Management Studies: Towards a More Mature Politics

Christopher Grey


Christopher Grey Introduction Critical management studies (CMS) has become the term of choice for a wide and growing array of academics working not just in management but in various cognate fields including accounting and information systems. Many date the use of the term from Alvesson and Willmott’s (1992) eponymous edited collection although, as I shall indicate, it has many antecedents. If we do date it from 1992 then we can make, with almost equal validity, the remark that CMS has achieved an enormous amount and that it has achieved almost nothing. An enormous amount precisely because it has become a term which is so widely used and because it has generated so much in the way of conferences, meetings, journal papers, debate and discussion. Yet almost nothing because, outside of itself, it is hardly known about and has hardly touched the way in which management operates and is invoked in wider society. Indeed, even within the limited terrain of the business and management schools where it has been most influential, its impact upon the ‘mainstream’ of those institutions has been minimal. We might at least expect that those versions of management studies which are under critique would have mounted a defence of themselves, even if they hadn’t been persuaded to reform. But almost nothing like this has happened. What has happened, however, is a series of vituperative debates inside CMS so that the proverbial Martian might reasonably conclude that the only people interested in CMS are its adherents and...

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