Critical Management Studies at Work
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Critical Management Studies at Work

Negotiating Tensions between Theory and Practice

Edited by Julie Wolfram Cox, Tony G. LeTrent-Jones, Maxim Voronov and David Weir

This book is the first of its kind to reflect on what it means to actually perform critical management studies (CMS): how consultants, researchers, teachers and managers negotiate the tensions they experience in their everyday practice.
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Chapter 4: Footless and Fancy Free? On Some Means to Move Beyond the Self-induced and Institutional Constraints of CMS

Neil Clarke


Neil Clarke INTRODUCTION The life worlds of management and the professions constitute a ‘power elite’ (Wright Mills 1957) of sorts, and so critique is very necessary. However, critiques of these life worlds are inconsistent, particularly because they too often neglect an exposition of the influences derived from the life world of the analyst. This omission has implications for an understanding of what the political project of critical management studies (CMS) could look like. That said, judging by the number of publications and conferences in the vein, it appears the CMS practised largely by academics indefinitely and apparently securely contracted to university business schools has been enjoying a boon time, while prospects for others not so rooted but who also study management critically are less clear. Some have addressed a range of strategies that appear open mainly to the more contractually secure academics, and have asked what CMS provides for any political project that might lie behind the texts they put out that are compatible with the CMS-oriented British Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) (Fournier and Grey 2000). Others have questioned the implicit assumption within such a framework – if the political project of CMS is aimed towards ‘revolution’, then, does it need ‘academic activism’ (Reedy 2007) or business school academics at all? In this chapter I attempt to squeeze between each of these approaches to understanding the CMS phenomenon, and any political project(s) with which it may be associated, and to offer an alternative. The perspective or standpoint taken is the...

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