Experiences from Academia Around the World
Edited by Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen and Janne Tienari
Chapter 6: Doing Difference with Graduate Management Students: Methods Used to Develop Inclusive Practices
Sandra Billard There is much theorizing in my various areas of interest – action research, inclusive teaching practices and gender relations in organizations – about the importance of listening to voices from the periphery, and of valuing and including difference for effective learning, organizational research and practice to occur. There is little direct examination though of how, at the microstructural level, this might be practically achieved. My aim in this chapter is to show how respecting difference and inclusion can be taught to business school students in courses that are not explicitly created to tackle these issues and where issues like diversity management or gender equality are not part of the course syllabus. By reflecting on the teaching strategies employed in one particular academic situation – a year long action learning and action research programme that students undertake as part of their Masters of Business Management at a regional Australian university – I seek to contribute to an exploration of the kinds of practical interventions, strategies and methods that can be used to facilitate effective ‘doing’ of difference. THE TEACHING CONTEXT One of the most important developments in management learning has been the realization that learning occurs best when it is directly related to real work, to ‘doing’ or to action. ‘Action learning’ is based on this understanding. ‘Action research’ is based on a similar premise that taking action to change or improve a situation, and working collaboratively on this within a system, will result in sounder and more useful understandings and insights. Participants...
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