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 8: Journeys into Critical Thinking: Intersecting Foucault into the Organizational Practice Debate

Daniel King


Daniel King RETHINKING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE Critical management studies (CMS) is increasingly concerned with its relationship to organizational practice. Having carved out a small but significant niche within the business school, its attention is becoming focused around the extent to which it is able, and indeed willing, to impact mainstream management practice. For some commentators, it is essential that CMS leaves its current comfortable but ineffectual hallows as a critical sub-discipline of management and begins a direct dialogue with mainstream theory and practice. CMS can only prosper and achieve its political ambitions, they argue, by directly engaging with practical issues that concern managers and society (Walsh and Weber 2002). Others, more wary of such grandiose ambitions, state that CMS should be circumspect in its ambitions (Grey and Willmott 2002). Counselling that CMS academics are just people doing certain jobs rather than leaders of new social movements (Parker 2002), they state that we should not completely focus on CMS as the site for struggle and resistance but look further afield. Regardless of their orientation, these debates are primarily concerned with CMS’s location within the business school; the relationship between critical theory and practical transformation; and the opportunities for engagement and threats of co-option associated by directly engaging with mainstream management theory and practice. Arguably, at stake here is the nature of CMS and its role and function as an academic discipline (Fournier and Grey 2000), an issue to which this volume provides an important and timely contribution. Despite...

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