The (Co-)Consumption of Management Ideas and Practices
Nijmegen School of Management (The Netherlands)
Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (UK)
Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden)
Call for papers
During the last two decades, management scholars have witnessed the expansion of what can be dubbed as the 'management knowledge industry' (Abrahamson, 1996; Sahlin-Andersson & Engwall, 2002). Here, particular attention has been given to the increased economic and ideational significance of the, so called 'supply-side' – 'knowledge producers' or 'entrepreneurs' such as management consultants, business schools, the mass-media, management gurus and others. From a variety of different perspectives researchers sought to provide explanations and accounts of how they interact with their consumers in the dissemination of management ideas (Sturdy, 2004). While recognising the scepticism and criticism that many ideas or 'fads' attracted and that many promoted ideas failed to develop and grow, others succeeded in gaining widespread managerial popularity.
But what can we say about the 'upsetting' impact of this growing management knowledge industry on management and organizational praxis? While some attention has been given to the specific and generic 'demand' factors for management ideas, such as competitive change or the problem of organizational control, the focus of much research continues to be on the creation and promotion of management ideas. Their 'consumption' is still a poorly understood element in the current research, beyond an assumption that producer rhetoric is successful (Clark, 2004). Are management ideas as upsetting as been often claimed or do they have other, less obvious, impacts? We do know from different functional management literatures such as HRM and marketing, as well as from studies of management education and corporate culture, that organizational actors are rarely passive recipients, but typically ambivalent and creative in their adaptations of new ideas and practices and it has been argued that they are becoming increasingly sceptical towards simplified and generic management knowledge (Benders & van Veen, 2001). Indeed, they can be seen as knowledge producers in themselves and certainly, as co-producers and co-consumers of management knowledge. But many questions are still unanswered about what happens at the various points of interaction between the various knowledge mediators
The present sub-theme will focus on the impact of the management knowledge industry on praxis and how management ideas are 'brought to life' in organizations and in the knowledge industry as co-consumers. To advance understanding about this important topic and to provide a forum for a widely researched topic in the scholarly community, this sub-theme seeks to bring together researchers with an interest in learning about how management ideas are enacted, adapted and appropriated in practice and how these processes feed into the ongoing processes of producing and cannibalising management knowledge in, among other spheres, management practice, academia and management consulting. Central in this sub-theme is the question: how do different knowledge carriers come together in the 'workplace' and how are they involved in the consumption-production of management ideas in organizational practice? In other words, this stream seeks studies of the active consumption of management ideas within user and producer organizations and/or of the ways in which management practice is not simply a response to the promoters of management ideas, but intimately linked with the production/formation and proliferation of these ideas through the interactions of different knowledge carriers.
We invite papers that deal with the topics listed above as well as the following, non exclusive list:
- Comparisons of internal and external sources of management ideas in organizations (e.g. consultancy; peers)
- Back stage consumer–producer interactions
- Rejection of knowledge entrepreneurs such as gurus, consultants and MBA recruits
- Management education as an arena for knowledge co-production in organizations
- The dynamics of co-producing/co-consuming relations (e.g. in the consultant–client relationship)
- Cross-national differences and institutional effects on knowledge consumption within organizations
- Historical and contemporary perspectives on the co-consumption of management ideas in praxis
- Managers' appreciation and attitudes towards new ideas and their associated practices
- The selection and use – consumption – of management ideas by those traditionally seen as knowledge producers
We will be able to organize a special issue in Management Learning based on a selection of the papers.
Abrahamson, E. (1996): Management Fashion. Academy of Management Review, 21 (1): 254-285.
Benders, J. & K. van Veen (2001): What's in a Fashion? Interpretative Viability and Management Fashions. Organization, 8 (1): 33-53.
Clark, T. (2004): The Fashion of Management Fashion: A Surge too Far? Organization, 11 (2): 297-306.
Sahlin-Andersson, K. & L. Engwall (eds.) (2002): The Expansion of Management Knowledge: Carriers, Flows, and Sources. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Sturdy, A. (2004): The Adoption of Management Ideas and Practices: Theoretical Perspectives and Possibilities. Management Learning, 35 (2): 155-179.
About the convenors
Stefan Heusinkveld is an assistant professor at the Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. His research concentrates on management consultants and the evolution of management ideas in the managerial discourse and organizational praxis.
Andrew Sturdy is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK. He has a direct interest in the field of the production and consumption of management ideas and practices and has published widely in these areas.
Andreas Werr is an associate professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, and the acting head of the centre for People and Organization. His current research interests focus on the rhetoric of management consulting, the procurement, use and consequences of management consultants in client organizations, the creation and dissemination of management knowledge in consulting organizations and inter-organizational knowledge flows.