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 6: Discourse and Policy in the Learning and Skills Sector

Ron Kerr and Steve Fox


Ron Kerr and Steve Fox INTRODUCTION In this chapter we take a critical approach to policy formation and address the question of whether critical management studies can engage with the field of policy, and if so, how? We do this by focusing on policy language and texts, and in particular policy texts in the learning and skills sector. In order to do this we review the roles of policy networks and communities, of discourses and imaginaries, and of texts and lexical formulations. The chapter illustrates this process of critical intervention in the policy field, focusing upon the use of language in strategically positioning discursive terms in order to (later) release their critical potential. The chapter is based in our work for the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL), a leadership college for the learning and skills sector in England and Wales. CEL was set up in 2004 under the authority of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Its foundation was called for in the document Success for All (DfES 2002) and after a public call for tender and ten shortlisted bids, a partnership of three institutions – Lancaster University, the Learning and Skills Development Agency and Ashridge – was contracted by the DfES for the first three years (2003–2006). CEL was charged with producing a new body of knowledge on educational leadership in the learning and skills sector, the purpose being to inform three areas: (1) programme development, (2) leadership practices and (3) policies through various routes. We focus on...

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