Critical Management Education

Essay by vvasimmUniversity, Master'sA, February 2011

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Critical Management Education

Critical management education (CME) is an approach to management education that stresses the role of management in the reproduction of inequality, oppression, and exploitation. It questions whether management education, with its stress on rational models of human behavior, can deliver reliable effective managerial practice. It aims to inculcate in practicing managers a political and ethical awareness and so to movemanagement education from the transmission of supposedly reliable technical knowledge toward a concern with the effects and wider consequences, both intended and unintended, of such knowledge.

Conceptual Overview

CME is best understood as a reaction against mainstream and conventional approaches to management education in business schools that consist (according to CME) of the transmission of technical skills as if these were morally and politically neutral, and as if the goals of profitability and efficiency were universally shared within organizations and society. In a related way, it is a reaction to the mainstream and conventional ways in which management research has (again according to CME) suppressed critical issues such as power, inequality, and ethics.

This suppression is compounded by a mainstream approach that prizes "positive" rather than "normative" knowledge, with an associated stress on quantitative techniques and supposedly generalizable, rather than context-specific, knowledge. However, CME is equally critical of the way that conventional management education is overly reliant on the dubious knowledge associated with the uncritical endorsement of managementfads, gurus, and populist stories about great leaders.

CME makes two generic criticisms of mainstream management education:

That it ignores ethics, morality, and values; that is, it focuses on how to manage, not on why manage

That the focus on how to manage is anyway flawed, because it neglects such things as unintended consequences, unknowability, and resistance that undermine such management techniques

Thus, mainstream management education produces managers who...