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Novel as an emancipatory case study in management learning
Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2951-5919
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In my paper I would like to consider the condition of modern management education using the perspective of Critical Management Education (Contu 2009; Grey 2004). This kind of reflection is relevant, because management education as currently practised in western Europe and USA is strongly based on positivistic paradigm which constitutes strong concern about economic efficiency without the concern about the human dignity or freedom in organizational reality. Thus, I would like to defend the thesis, that knowledge transferred through the process of modern management learning is parochial, pernicious, and danger for human. The economic and technical perspective of human, management and world, deep-rooted in management learning is seen today as the “one best way” of thinking. As a result, there is still little humanities in curriculum of business schools and also in curriculum in university’s programs of management learning, so there is little chance to teach students (managers) how to think in the critical way. Thus, management education don’t equip students with an adequate management competences - critical thinking is one of the most important competency which can make possible to cope with the complex cultural and social problems associated with the modern organizational world. It is connected with the fact, that without the extensive, transdisciplinary knowledge delivered by humanities, there is no chance for manager to be really concerned for people engaged in organizational practice (Kostera 2012).

Curriculum of modern management education has to be radically changed in more humanistic direction. This change must constitute a kind of deviation from traditional curriculum and must include experimentation with art and popular culture (Czarniawska, Gagliardi 2006). According to this I would like to consider using novels as a emancipatory case study in management learning. I am trying to show that novel can be treated by managers, academics and teachers as an act of reading the world, which in turn need to be interpreted (Czarniawska 1999). Thus, reading novels might produce creative insights into the practices of organizing and can develop the discourse of management sciences. Novels may help to grasp processes that are inaccessible for the scientific theory, and which are sometimes theoretically cumbersome for the theorists and managers. They can saturate the researcher’s and manager’s competences and enable them to develop their knowledge about the organizations and management in the more courageous way. In the other words, reading the novels is the process that leads to develop an organizational imagination (Czarniawska, Gagliardi 1994).

I believe that a novel, as Milan Kundera believes, is a laboratory of human existence which demonstrates the “carnival of relativity” of values and norms. Good novels have always complex plots, experimental structures, paradoxical resolutions - reading them, both in a research mode and in a teaching mode, offers a variety of insights not always easily accessible in field studies. After all, claims Milan Kundera: "The novel dealt with the unconscious before Freud, the class struggle before Marx, it practiced phenomenology (...) before the phenomenologists" (“The Art of The Novel”).

Thus the point is not that managers and scientists are to become literary critics, but that the wisdom of novels can make the constructive de-construction of their particular point of view in the process of studying and experiencing the organizational world. But the materialization of this change depends on the appropriate strategy of reading. The ambition of narrative analysis in management sciences and management education should be an inspired reading, as Richard Rorty calls it, which is not aimed at gathering information from the novel but which is subjective and idiosyncratic. The creative nature of learning is enhanced by knowledge through experience. Thus, knowledge must involve the creation of knowledge through the personal experience - without the personal contact and experience with the text (novel’s narration as well as the scientific one) we cannot say that someone acquire the knowledge. As Hermann Hesse shows in his novels, the processes of reading and learning are real only when they are connected with an existential triad “Experience–Awakening– Transformation” on the ground of reader’s subjectivity. So I am trying to prove that an appropriate way of reading, which can be described as an “explosive” contact with the narration can lead an individual to “symbolic revolution” (Pierre Bourdieu) and constitutes the critical distance to the external world - can contribute to a “existential awakening”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-46861OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-46861DiVA, id: diva2:1371470
Conference
The 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, “Extending the Limits of Neo-Liberal Capitalism”, July 10-12, 2013, Machester, United Kingdom
Available from: 2019-11-20 Created: 2019-11-20 Last updated: 2019-11-20Bibliographically approved

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