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.
There are two new and interesting publications, both published in Organization, I want to inform you about:
Contradiction, circumvention and instrumentalization of noble values: How competition undermines the potential of alternatives
https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508417741536 | First Published December 3, 2017
Recent studies have shown that alternative organizations are particularly exposed to the risk of losing ‘their soul’ or their capacity to put into practice their original ends when they compete with capitalist companies. But what happens when an alternative organization competes exclusively with another alternative organization? This article addresses this question using a unique and ‘revealing’ case, in which two mutual insurance organizations compete structurally and directly with each other and propose the same products to the same target population, at the same time and same place. The case shows in concrete terms how competition can undermine the integrity of alternative organizations and expose them to a dissociation between ends and means by leading them to: (1) adopt ‘dirty’ practices that are incoherent with their founding purpose, (2) circumvent the coherent practices that have been specifically designed to reach their alternative ends, and (3) instrumentalize their alternative ends and turn them into means of coping with competition. Furthermore, the case shows how the dynamic of structural and direct competition, because of its ‘captivating’ nature, may prevent local actors from ‘denaturalizing’ or questioning these incoherent practices. This study suggests that any action aimed at promoting alternative organizations requires taking due account of the competitive environment in which local actors of alternatives are placed and which can seriously undermine their emancipatory potential.
Changing the world? The politics of activism and impact in the neoliberal university
https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508417726546 | First Published December 15, 2017
This article explores the political differences between academic activism and the recently emerged research impact agenda. While both claim that academic work can and should engage with and influence the world beyond the academic ‘ivory tower’, their political meaning and practice are radically different. Following the distinction made by Jacques Rancière, we argue that research impact performs a policing function which, despite its own rhetoric, is arranged as an attempt to ensure that academic work maintains a neoliberal status quo by actually having no real political impact. Academic activism, in contrast, serves to politicize scholarly work by democratically disrupting political consensus in the name of equality. Being an academic activist in an era of research impact rests in a twofold movement: that of both acting in the name of equality in an effort (using Marx’s terms) to ‘change the world’ and resisting and contesting an academic administration whose police actions have attempted to eliminate such forms of democratic practice from the political consensus. The argument is illustrated with examples from the Australia Research Council’s statements on research impact and the practice of climate change activism.
Im Oktober 2016 wurde die Gesellschaft für sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft (GSÖBW) (Association for SocioEconomic Education and Research) gegründet. Ziel ist die Förderung einer pluralistischen und interdisziplinären Ausrichtung der Lehre und Forschung in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften. Aus der Gründungserklärung des Vereins:
„Der Ruf nach interdisziplinärem Denken und Forschen steht auf der öffentlichen Agenda seit einigen Jahren weit oben. Die Gesellschaft für sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft (GSÖBW) trägt den Forderungen nach einer Erneuerung der wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Forschung und Lehre Rechnung. Ihrem Selbstverständnis nach stellt sich sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft weniger als eine Natur-, sondern vielmehr als eine multiparadigmatische Sozialwissenschaft dar. Sie verpflichtet sich den Prinzipien der Interdisziplinarität, Pluralität und Kontroversität ebenso wie der permanenten ethischen Reflexion. Dies betrifft die Lehre an den Hochschulen ebenso wie den Unterricht an Schulen, verbreitet sich die Forderung nach (mehr) Pluralismus doch vielmehr institutionenübergreifend.“
Zur Tätigkeit des Vereins zählen auch jährliche Fachtagungen. Die 2. Jahrestagung der GSÖBW zum Thema „Historizität und Sozialität in der sozioökonomischen Bildung“ findet vom 27.2-1.3.2018 in Tutzing statt.
Zur Homepage: https://soziooekonomie-bildung.eu/
Als Einstieg in das Feld der Sozioökonomie empfiehlt sich zudem:
Hedtke, Reinhold (Hrsg.) (2015): Was ist und wozu Sozioökonomie? Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
Sounds like an interesting and relevant piece of work …
„The explosion of published outputs, at least
in social science, creates a noisy, cluttered
environment which makes meaningful research
difficult, as different voices compete to capture
the limelight even briefly. Publishing comes to
be seen as a game of hits and misses, devoid
of intrinsic meaning and value, and of no wider
social uses whatsoever. Academics do research
in order to get published, not to say something
socially meaningful. This is what we view as
the rise of nonsense in academic research,
which represents a serious social problem. It
undermines the very point of social science.
This book argues that we are currently
witnessing not merely a decline in the quality
of social science research, but the proliferation
of meaningless research, of no value to society,
and modest value to its authors – apart from
securing employment and promotion“
More information at Oxford University Press: www.oup.com