Critical performativity

The happy end of Critical Management Studies?

Authored by: Sverre Spoelstra , Peter Svensson

The Routledge Companion to Critical Management Studies

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415501880
eBook ISBN: 9781315889818
Adobe ISBN: 9781134511235


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The aim of this chapter is to engage in the perennial debate concerning the relevance (or lack thereof) of Critical Management Studies (CMS) (see e.g. Parker, 2002; Spicer, Alvesson & Kärreman, 2009). There seems to be a growing – and perhaps well deserved – anxiety among researchers labeled or labeling themselves critical management scholars. In the early days of CMS, much of its legitimacy stemmed from its negation of established, or so-called mainstream, management research. Being something else—presenting a provocative alternative to the hegemony of positivist and realist management research and management guru discourse—rendered CMS fresh, interesting and relevant. But time passed, and CMS soon started to experience the academic equivalent of a midlife crisis. The field got more and more established, special journals were launched, professors were assigned and professors became rich and famous. Lurking beneath this success, however, was the doubt that CMS perhaps was not very useful for social change. What if people didn’t care? What if nobody listened? What if our writings are not even worthy of being read?

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