Postcolonialism, Organization, and Management Theory: The Role of “Epistemological Third Spaces”

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Management Inquiry, 2016, 25 (2), pp. 171 - 183
Issue Date:
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© 2015, The Author(s) 2015. This article contributes a critical discussion of postcolonial theory. It opposes the binary nature of much contemporary discussion of the topic in theory and in organization and management theory in particular. We identify the challenges facing postcolonial theory, which we identify in epistemological terms. The dualism of “colonial” and “postcolonial” theory masks considerable diversity that the binary logic occludes. In place of this dualism, we introduce the notion of epistemological third spaces. As a theory of this third space, we introduce the indigenous theory of southern Africa, Ubuntu, discussing its interaction with more conventional Western management and organization theory. We also highlight a case in which the notion of epistemological third spaces would have been valuable had it been applied to the spread of the Nile River virus. We conclude the article with a discussion of the potential links between epistemological third spaces.
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