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Critical Management Education Essay

3049 words - 12 pages

Critical Management EducationCritical management education (CME) is an approach to management education that stresses the role of management in the reproduction of inequality, oppression, and exploitation. It questions whether management education, with its stress on rational models of human behavior, can deliver reliable effective managerial practice. It aims to inculcate in practicing managers a political and ethical awareness and so to move management education from the transmission of supposedly reliable technical knowledge toward a concern with the effects and wider consequences, both intended and unintended, of such knowledge.Conceptual OverviewCME is best understood as a reaction against mainstream and conventional approaches to management education in business schools that consist (according to CME) of the transmission of technical skills as if these were morally and politically neutral, and as if the goals of profitability and efficiency were universally shared within organizations and society. In a related way, it is a reaction to the mainstream and conventional ways in which management research has (again according to CME) suppressed critical issues such as power, inequality, and ethics. This suppression is compounded by a mainstream approach that prizes "positive" rather than "normative" knowledge, with an associated stress on quantitative techniques and supposedly generalizable, rather than context-specific, knowledge. However, CME is equally critical of the way that conventional management education is overly reliant on the dubious knowledge associated with the uncritical endorsement of management fads, gurus, and populist stories about great leaders.CME makes two generic criticisms of mainstream management education:That it ignores ethics, morality, and values; that is, it focuses on how to manage, not on why manageThat the focus on how to manage is anyway flawed, because it neglects such things as unintended consequences, unknowability, and resistance that undermine such management techniquesThus, mainstream management education produces managers who cannot exert the control they are taught that they can, and who in the process create, or potentially create, morally (and otherwise) damaging effects. So if mainstream management education worked, then it would be wrong, but it doesn't work anyway-it is both immoral and ineffective.CME proposes that instead management education needs to do the following:Focus on values, not techniquesExplore/expose managerial interests and the exercise of managerial powerUnderstand management as a local, situated practiceUnderstand the social, political, and philosophical contexts of managementThere is, however, a considerable variety of opinion about what this means. This is not surprising given that CME emerged from the knowledge base associated with critical management studies (CMS), which is itself highly fragmented. For example, some versions of CME are predicated on neo-Marxism, others on...

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