To learn and to teach something about alternative forms of work and organization is one of the urgent tasks of critical management and organization studies. However, one of the most striking problems in teaching alternatives is the lack of imagination, that is the idea that these are real and possible alternatives. As Gibson-Graham (2006: XV) write about their own experiences: „In the face of a new discourse of the diverse economy, participants in our projects can easily recognize the activities and enterprises it names, but they cannot readily identify with the alternative subject positions it avails. Most of them get up in the morning wanting a job – and if not wanting one, feeling they need one – rather than an alternative economy”.
One idea to cope with this problem seems to reframe it or to tackle it in a roundabout way. Luc Audebrand and colleagues introduce cooperatives into the classroom via the topic and reflection of paradoxes in organizations. They argue that “despite the absence of the cooperative business model in mainstream management textbooks and curricula, this model can offer a high pedagogical value for management education in that it can foster paradoxical thinking” (Audebrand et al. 2017: 216).
Said this, we can think about several other topics which makes it possible to introduce alternatives. Just think about power, participation, democracy or sustainability and maybe then alternatives are just around the corner or at least are worth to talk about it in the classroom.
Audebrand, Luc K., Annie Camus, und Valérie Michaud. 2017. A Mosquito in the Classroom: Using the Cooperative Business Model to Foster Paradoxical Thinking in Management Education. Journal of Management Education 41 (2): 216–248. doi: 10.1177/1052562916682552. [http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1052562916682552]
Gibson-Graham, J. K. 2006. The end of capitalism (as we knew it). A feminist critique of political economy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.