Sunday, 6 March 2016

All about me


Rather shamelessly, my post today is to promote two books of mine that are about to come out. The first is a collection edited with Isabelle Huault, VĂ©ronique Perret and Laurent Taskin entitled Critical Management Studies. Global Voices, Local Accents. Published by Routledge on March 18 (but already available electronically) the idea is a simple one. Critical Management Studies (CMS) is largely dominated by Anglophone writings from Anglo-Scandinavian authors, but it has to some extent been picked up globally. So how does CMS play out in different locales and different linguistic communities?
Part of the issue here is one of travel and translation of ideas; another part is about how CMS perhaps ironically recreates the patterns of domination within ‘mainstream’ management studies. We wanted to capture this in a way that recognized some sense of a ‘centre’ and ‘margins’ but also to problematize that distinction by showing how, for example, CMS may be more fragile in, say, the UK than might be thought and also might be quite radically inflected in, say, Brazil. So there is more going on than a hegemonic centre ‘making’ CMS and a passive margin ‘taking’ CMS (although some of that may be going on, as well).
In a way it’s just a first attempt at a global ‘survey’ of CMS – a first attempt because there are large parts of the world that are not covered, either because there is not much CMS going on, or because we couldn’t find an author to write about it. The countries or regions that are covered are: Australia/New Zealand, Benelux, Canada, China, France, Germanic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia, South America, Turkey, UK, USA.
The other book is entirely different. Written with Jana Costas and published by Stanford University Press on 30 March it is called Secrecy at Work. The Hidden Architecture of Organizational Life. It’s not in any but the broadest sense a CMS book. Rather it aspires to be a contribution to organizational sociology and theory on a big scale. We argue that secrecy should be added to the standard repertoire of the study of organizations because it is part of the standard repertoire of organizational life. We try to capture the whole gamut of ways that this is so, from trade secrets and restricted access laboratories through to whispered gossip in workplace corridors.
And more than that we try to show how such things create literal and metaphorical architectures of in groups and out groups. Secrecy is an incredibly powerful thing, creating a sense of exclusivity and specialness, but also sometimes a burden amongst those who possess secrets. Meanwhile imaginations, both beneficent and malign, abound amongst those on the outside about what goes on behind closed doors.
So this is, in intent at least, an ambitious book but of course it remains to be seen what others will make of it. Early omens are good. Yiannis Gabriel of Bath University has said that it “sheds brilliant light on an area of organizational life that has … been systematically excluded from organizational theory”. Amanda Sinclair at Melbourne University calls it a “brilliant analysis” whilst Steven Lukes of New York University found it to be “a pioneering, highly readable study; full of insights”. However it ends up being received it’s a book I’m proud of.
Since this post is irretrievably egotistical I will just mention that the manuscript of the fourth edition of ‘A very short etc.’ that is the basis of this blog has now gone to the publisher and should be out at the end of this year or the beginning of next.

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