Permission Taking: The Humanities and Critical Pedagogy in the MBA

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The Routledge Companion to Reinventing Management Education, 2016, pp. 361 - 373
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The MBA has been under significant critique in recent years, most saliently in relation to its narrow functional focus, instrumental orientation and lack of attention to the ethical dimensions of business (Mintzberg 2004; Navarro 2008; Muff et al. 2013). Although it is common for responses to these issues to focus on broad-based programmes and curricular change (for example, Moldoveanu and Martin 2008; Datar et al. 2010), with this chapter I want to explore ways in which individual educators can respond and have responded to these issues in the classroom. In so doing I am not dismissing the importance of changes to the structure of education at the level of either policy or practice; clearly what happens at such lofty levels has a significant impact on teachers and students. Commentary on, for example, changes to government funding arrangements, the widespread vocationalization of management education, or universities focusing on using management programmes in a way that puts revenue generation above education is critical to maintaining democratic debate over the future of education. However, for most of us who toil away in the classroom our influence on such matters is for the most part limited, rendering us almost passive in our receipt of changes that eventually trickle down to us. We might engage with them in a similar manner to how we care about national politics, but our position is as citizens (in this case of the university) rather than as politicians. Moreover, if as individual educators we become enthralled solely with general debates at the expense of considering the possibilities of our own professional practice, then we risk avoiding taking action in the very location where we can make a difference. Although it may be the case that changes to the structure and governance regimes of universities have augmented managerial power at the expense of that of individual academics (Parker and Jary 1995), the classroom is a prime site where such encroachments can be resisted.
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