This is primarily aimed at IR scholar types, but as Sussex also has a long tradition of critical International Political Economy this may well be of interest to CPPE folk.
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This is primarily aimed at IR scholar types, but as Sussex also has a long tradition of critical International Political Economy this may well be of interest to CPPE folk.
This might be of interest to list-members:
Shadow Banking: A European Perspective
1-2 February 2013, City University London
This two-day conference investigates the phenomenon of Shadow Banking, one of the most complex challenges brought up by the global financial crisis. The event brings together leading academics, regulators and practitioners working on the issues, processes and impact of financial innovation today.
Antoine Bouveret (European Securities and Markets Authority)
Ben Cohen (Bank for International Settlements)
Gary Dymski (Leeds Business School)
Brooke Masters (Financial Times)
Perry Mehrling (Barnard College)
Thorvald Grung Moe (Norges Bank)
Anastasia Nesvetailova (City University London)
Zoltan Pozsar (Senior Adviser, US Treasury)
Details of the conference can be found in the conference programme. Further information, including abstracts, is also available on the conference website:
Delegate attendance: £100 + VAT
Student delegate attendance: £50 + VAT
Conference dinner (optional): £30 + VAT
For press inquiries, please contact Dr Anastasia Nesvetailova directly.
The CPPE Annual Symposium takes place this week at the University of Leicester campus. The presentations and presenters, as well as brief abstracts from each of their papers, are listed below. Details on the schedule and the venue are available from the official site. Preparatory queries as well as subsequent discussions and debates, if any, can be posted here, at least initially.
Cargo Cult Finance - Geoff Lightfoot, Simon Lilley and Kenneth Weir
Richard Feynman’s witty commencement address to Caltech in 1974, where he coined the term Cargo Cult Science, has itself something of a cult following, particularly amongst those who consider it essential to mark the divide between ‘proper’ science and New-Agey pseudoscience. Feynman told of South Sea Islands where the inhabitants, hoping to entice back the airplanes that brought new and wondrous materials during the war, built replicas from bamboo of the airstrips, buildings and equipment that they had seen the Japanese and American forces use. ‘They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land.’ He draws a parallel between this and pseudo-scientific enquiry, such as that into extra-sensory perception, for despite ‘follow[ing] all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, […]they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land’. Yet Feynman sought to do more than just mock Uri Geller and his ilk – he also took aim at the heart of the scientific establishment when he pointed out that cultishness in the history of physics was demonstrated by an unwillingness on the part of researchers to challenge the findings of some of the leading names of the day. At the heart of Feynman’s polemic is a simple plea – for scientists to rigorously strive not to fool themselves and others. Good science, for Feynman, means scrupulously showing contrary results and ‘bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong’. Lofty ideals, indeed, and we should not be surprised that many fail to live up to them even in the material sciences, let alone in disciplines that crave such quantitative certainty. Yet, as recent years have made clear, despite the violent unveiling of how we have been fooled and failed by the predictions and prescriptions derived from the study of finance within the academy, there has been little stomach for reconsideration of the contribution of the authors who defined the discipline nor for exploration of methodologies that do not rely upon the empty trappings of the routines of scientific inquiry. A cargo cult, indeed.
This paper makes no promises of scientific integrity in its approach. Instead it seeks to produce a narrative that catalogues and highlights aspects of cargo cult finance. These range from a deeply embedded institutional refusal to question the findings and pronouncements of the Masters of Finance (neatly collected in an archive at The American Finance Association), through its slavish adherence to failed and failing methodologies, to its inability to engage with the world beyond that which it has modelled. The South Sea Islands cargo cults, from which Feynman drew his analogy, seem mostly benign and almost charming. Cargo cult finance, less so, and the paper concludes by examining some of the linkages between finance institutions, key players and the academic system through which the cult has been promulgated.
Designing for the Anthropocene: Why a Global Planned Economy is Impossible, yet Essential - David Harvie and Keir Milburn
We live, quite literally, in epoch-making times. There is growing scientific consensus that Earth has now left the last stable geological epoch, the Holocene – which lasted for 11,000 years and was remarkably hospitable to humans. Instead we and our planet have entered a new much less stable epoch: the Anthopocene, so named because, collectively, humans are the dominant force of nature. Yet, the paradox of the Anthropocene is that, although we are at the centre of the world, we seem unable to solve some of the most basic problems we as a species face. A number of fundamental Earth-system processes are severely out of equilibrium and threaten to cross thresholds that will trigger dangerous state-change; at the same time, we are experiencing a global crisis of social reproduction, unable to solve basic problems of hunger, shelter and preventable disease. In this presentation we explore various attempts to analyse and respond to this situation, considering proposals for ‘a safe operating space for humanity’ and ‘a safe and just operating space for humanity’. We pay particular attention to the question of limits – both physical/ environmental and social – and ‘tipping points’, suggesting that the apparent empty set of exits from our predicament force a problematising of the nature of the human and the limits of ‘human nature’. Finally, we turn to planning: we review both the critique of planning, before critiquing this critique and proposing our own conception of design as a tool for effecting our escape.
Organizing Innovation through Ambiguity - Juan Cristia Espinosa
The present paper discussed some of the results of an ongoing research project about innovation practices in nascent companies. The theoretical background of the research is broadly located in the STS literature on “devices” (Muniesa et al. 2007; Jensen 2004). Within this literature, devices act as instruments and practices that transform their heterogeneous network and compose a future based on the alignment of the actors and their domains (Jensen, 2004). The idea of this research is to offer some new insights on how this future, as a collective existence, has come to be assembled (Latour, 2005) by the use of those devices. This work also draws from a tradition of inquiry that looks at how material devices participate as a substantial and crucial ingredient driving and shaping the “accounts” of the organization participants (Munro, 1995 and Munro and Mouritsen, 1996). Here the concept of “account” stems from the ethnomethodology program (Garfinkel, 1968; Orbuch, 1997 and Warfield Rawls, 2008). So within the develop of this research, objects like diagrams of potential distribution channels, spreadsheets of total cost estimations and the specification hierarchy of a new product are being studied as a set of particular devices that participate in the collective creation of this accounts and the future of the organization.
The empirical data comes from a group of different sites, a Chilean biotechnology nascent company and two nascent medical devices companies located in West Midlands of UK. What these sites have in common is the condition of novelty of the technologies/products and the organization itself. This empirical approach is supported by a methodology that tries to reflect on the relationship between critique and notions like “performative disposition” common to post Actor-Network methodologies. Such an approach does not take for granted notions like “utility” and guides us to reflect upon how the foundations are constructed and reconstructed. In the words of Casper Bruun Jensen’s the research practice needs to “careful interrogate” some key terms in the study of the technology development such as “usefulness”, “relevance” between others (Jensen 2010:103). The notion also echoes a “non foundational” line of work that is present in the work of Stenner (2007) and Brown and Stenner (2009). In the practice, this involves a persistently analysis on the part of the researcher of the process whereby the founding premises of her or his own field of research are “constructed and reconstructed” and how this process reconnect with the phenomena that is under study (Brown and Stenner, 2009: 4).
Some of the preliminary results of this study show that a particular set of these devices, tentatively named as “organizing devices”, are arranging and connecting the heterogeneous network of objects that permits the “management by ambiguity” (Munro, 1995) of the innovation phenomena in those nascent organizations. Crucially, this research offers data about some discursive-material organizing devices that could be present as “virtual objects” that contain “all the differences as real potentials” an object that is “several things at once” (Brown and Middleton 2005, p. 710) and permits the organization of the innovation phenomena.
The Ethics of Resistance to Managerial Control - Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar
Managerial tools to control the employees and their usage in directing the employees towards commonly accepted goals, is one of the fundamental discussion topics in management and organization literature. Employees’ resistance to this managerial control process has been discussed from a variety of viewpoints. Especially, with the contribution of critical perspectives, studies of resistance to managerial control began to develop as an essential part of the relevant literature.
This study begins by discussing the place of resistance in the organization studies. As there are a variety of approaches to resistance, the ethical position of resistance is questioned. Hence, the research question of the study can be stated as “what is the ethics of resistance to managerial control in organizations?” In order to answer this question, the relationship between the main assumptions of critical perspectives in the organization studies and the resistance concept is analyzed. Therefore, dominance of the critical approaches and critical theories in resistance studies is discussed. Following the discussions of main assumptions, conceptualization of resistance in terms of different epistemological and ontological standpoints in organization studies is examined. Afterwards, current expressions of resistance in the contemporary studies is given. In the following, concept of ethics is examined with a critical approach and a theoretical approach regarding the ethical assumptions of resistance is developed. In the discussion of ethics of resistance, utilitarianism and freedom ethics has been given special attention. Within this framework, it is stated that people resist to managerial control in order to reach justice and autonomy and it is claimed that this ethical foundation of resistance makes the resistance a righteous act. The theoretical development of a new ethical assumption regarding resistance constitutes the main contribution and importance of the study.
Reflections: Changing Warwick Business School - Martin Parker
This reflections piece recounts two years in the change management of a major UK business school. Using evidence gained whilst the author was an employee at Warwick Business School, I reflect on the conditions and institutional mechanisms which allowed a ‘seismic’ change programme to take place. Crucially, this has involved discounting the past and claiming that anyone who is against change is either self-interested or doesn’t understand the ‘real world’. I conclude with some observations on the relationship between the managerial business school and the idea of the university.
Gatekeeper or Bouncer? Peer Review and the Politics of Reception - Norman Jackson and Pippa Carter
A call for papers on climate change issued by a major journal declared that ‘(t)he question is not simply to ask how understandings of climate change can make a contribution to organization theory, but also how organization theory can actively contribute to responses to climate change‘ (our emphasis). Our submission in response to this argued that OT, both orthodox and critical, would be unable to make the ‘active contribution’ hoped for, because Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) represents an ontological threat to OT itself.
Reviewer response to our paper was uniformly hostile and, indeed, personal. One of the more startling comments came from Reviewer 2, who concluded ‘(t)he only thing I can say about [our paper] is that it is a potent argument AGAINST double blind review, as I think the authors should be named and shamed’ (our emphasis). Reviewer 3 implied that we were racists.
Peer review is a notionally rational process for the expert evaluation of new knowledge claims. Ideally, reviewers make a reasoned assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a paper and, hopefully, offer some guidance as to how an inadequate paper might, if possible, be improved. Clearly, there is wide discretion on the part of reviewers and editors about what constitutes an appropriate review. However, the idea of ‘peer’ (etymologically, ‘equal’ ), in the context of reviewing, while masking inequalities of, for example, status and experience, denotes a relationship of trust in a situation in which there is, inevitable, an asymmetry of power. It implies that the writer and the reviewer are of a kind, that there is mutual respect and that each is acting professionally. How, then, are we to understand reviews whose target is, not the paper and its content, but the author(s)? A review that proposes to subvert the system of peer review in favour of a show trial? Should we see it as overstressed reviewers having a bad day? An abuse of power? Or what? How do we explain the editorial endorsement of these reviews? How explain the willingness of a critical journal to associate itself with such hysterical responses?
In reflecting on the reception of our paper we have been led into consideration of two further distinct but related issues: on one hand, the apparent institutionalisation of critical thinking in OT (and its, perhaps consequent, failure, so far, to ‘change the world’); on the other hand, the ‘climate’ of denial of the existential threat of AGW, and of denial of the concomitant inadequacies of our responses to it.
“The Geology of Morals” before Science, Art and Philosophy - Charles Barthold and Stephen Dunne
The third chapter of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus is an intricate treatise on the organic composition of the earth, its cellular-chemical and molecular structures, its people, its languages, its psychic phenomena and its underpinning strata. It is also a non-verified witnesses’ account of the idiosyncratic ramblings of a monstrous scientist – Professor Challenger – who fails to convince its audience as to the veracity of its stubbornly held eclectic opinions and so disgruntledly returns to the virtual world from which it came. Which of these contradictory accounts of the text is more convincing? The one which treats the text literally, so dwelling upon the ethical question of how to act in a world which is as Challenger describes? Or the other with treats the text literarily, so dwelling upon the plot, its characters, and its hypothetical connections to the material world? Rather than rendering the plateau as either an instance of science, or art, we instead ask, along with Deleuze and Guattari’s later What is Philosophy?, whether Professor Challenger is better understood as a conceptual persona involved in the philosophical act of concept creation, or not. We suggest the latter, instead insisting that ‘the Geology of Morals’ reports upon an experiment in thinking which simply didn’t work. It is not an image of thought to be dogmatically replicated – it is rather an extremely hyperbolised account of the risks inherent to thinking – failure to think productively being the most frequent, failure to think beyond opinion being the most debased.
A Marketing Theory of Value - Robert Cluley
If you’ve used the internet in the last decade, there is a system that has been working around you – probably without you even realising it. It has been simultaneously collecting data about you and tailoring your experience of the internet on the basis of (the analytic modelling and mining of) that data. This system is based on two competing ideas which have won over the marketing trade: first, that targeting adverts is the most effective marketing strategy; second, that measuring the effectiveness of adverts is essential. These ideas are inconsistent because there’s no evidence that targeting consumers actually works and the systems we have to measure the effectiveness of targeting target as they measure. But ultimately, this inconsistency doesn’t matter because this system makes money and that it what I want to talk about. In this case, it is not data itself that is valuable but a particular way of using data within marketing that makes it produce value. It is this value, and the ability to produce and capitalise on it, which lies at the heart of businesses such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the modern advertising industry.
The purpose of this post is to invite interested parties to an incidental reading group that some of us are currently discussing.
The plan, as it is, would be to meet fortnightly to discuss Heidegger’s Being and Time. Meetings would likely be held in Leicester, possibly at a pub and possibly on a Friday evening. Plans are all very sketchy at the moment but will be firmed up when a group of participants is established. Vague plans currently include either Friday 7th September at 6pm, or Saturday 8th September at lunchtime, as possible start dates for the project.
Once we have an idea on numbers and interested parties, the group will arrange a date between us for starting the project. In the absence of a group consensus, I’d suggest we go for either of the dates suggested above (7/8 Sep) and then take it from there.
As for reading targets for the first meeting, I propose we read to the end of Introduction section I (which is page 35 of the Macquarrie and Robinson translated edition). It is m hope that the group will then establish reading targets for future sessions.
If you are interested in reading Heidegger with us, and meeting fortnightly in Leicester to discuss, please register your interest with Ken Weir (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reply below to this post.
Have a good weekend,
Further to the email that has been round the CPPE list, here is a call for proposals/submissions* for the edited book ‘Hard Cash’ that myself and Stephen Dunne will be compiling over the next few months:
As you’ll see from the attached file, we’re planning to kick the whole thing off formally in the Autumn with a CPPE-hosted workshop at ULSM at which those participating can outline what they intend for their contribution, play with ideas, get feedback and/or snarf the biscuits.
In addition to putting this on the blog. we’ll also be targeting particular individuals that we might want to encourage to contribute. If anyone knows of anyone doing deeply funky money-related stuff that we might not already know about, please let us know and we’ll get on to them. We have a few names already, but more are very welcome.
Angus and Stephen
* the Chapter titles included in the call have all been proposed already, but are at varying stages of development – hence we have anonymised them. They’re just here for guidance. And yes, we’ve cleaned at least one of them up a bit so that no “members” get put off by vulgarity. We know how sensitive you all are…..
Too lazy or thick to read all that difficult philosophy? Well the nice folk at Open Culture have put a bunch of TV interviews conducted by Brian McGee with famous and very posh philosophers on the interweb. Go here.
Aside from Iris Murdoch and Martha Nussbaum there is a noticeable absence of ‘Lady Philosophers’ from the list, but this was the seventies which were, as I dimly remember, quite crap. You may feel the urge to wear tweed and light up a pipe when listening to these. If so, go with it….
Those of you with a ‘thing’ for contemporary French theory will find this useful – if you don’t know it already:
It is a FREE download of a bunch of lectures by Alexander Galloway on lots of deeply trendy incomprehensible types…… Enjoy
A belated report on the visit of our old friend Ruud Kaulingfreks to the CPPE in February. Ruud talked to his chapter from the Campbell Jones and Rene ten Bos collection ‘Philosophy and Organization‘. His theme was the various ways in which the operability of philosophy has been mobilised in management education and consultancy. The philosophically equipped consultant might be seen as trickster or a joker figure – someone who offers an alternative learning, but who also runs the risk of being seen as pointless, as wasteful. But such an intervention runs counter to the logic of training as a form of governance, which is experienced by its recipients as either a reward (‘come join us for a weekend away in a castle in Poland’) or a punishment (‘attendance at this session is mandatory and will be monitored’). The current vogue for ‘ethical consultancy’ (a glorious term which attracted much discussion) might be seen in a tradition of professional philosophy dating to the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Such philosophy may be seen to have a role as sanctioning or justifying senior managerial decisions. The CEO searches for their own legitimacy, and this search acquires a kind of quasi-spiritual or religious quality. Non-executive directors would then be a philosopher caste for business. The wise elders assisting in the spiritual quest for (commercial) enlightenment. Perhaps we could see in this a tacit acknowledgement of guilt, or the lack of any grounds for legitimacy. Better yet, the gesture of turning to philosophy (or art, or whatever other ‘wasteful’ activity that can be bought in) is a demonstration of the power and the cynicism of the senior manager – ‘I will do what I want and I will take whatever I choose and make it mine in the full knowledge of its incoherence’. The cult which grows around the supposed wisdom of the great business gurus, such as Steve Jobs, is a celebration of the seriousness and sanctity with which the task of seeking meaning in multi-layered propositions which express only their utter vacuousness is pursued: it is turtlenecks all the way down (with apologies to William James).
There were strong echoes of Stefano Harney’s recent seminar at the Exterritory event in Paris this week. Exterritory is a project initiated by Israeli artists, filmmakers and curators Ruti Sela and Mayaan Amir in 2009, to explore some of the many contradictions produced by the struggle over land in the Palestine/Israel conflict. Because both sides lay claim in various ways to ‘territory’ (conceived in multiple ways), Ruti and Mayaan wanted to explore the possibility of stepping outside territory altogether to innovate modes of resistance and to highlight the absurdities of the battle over land. This has involved many different events over the years, most strikingly their projection of images of the region and its many people onto the sails of yachts at night in international waters off the Israeli coast.
The event in Paris – co-hosted by the Kadist and Evens Foundations – was the first of a number of planned symposia bringing together artists, curators, academics and other oddments to consider what ‘exterritory’ might mean in practice. The Paris symposium explored various aspects of exterritorial and extraterritorial space (the distinction between the two being far more meaningful in French). The first session included (defiantly non-) geographer Stuart Elden’s thought-provoking analysis of the construction of ‘exile’ in Shakespeare’s plays and Laurent Jeanpierre‘s examination of theoretical and juridical notions of exterritoriality. The second session consisted of my own rambling thoughts inspired by events of 2008 and the ‘flash-crash’ – ‘Where has all the (xeno)money gone?‘ – and Dana Diminescu‘s fascinating exploration of the complex and emergent spatialities of migration. All four papers were skilfully brought together by the contribution of Anat Ben David, one of Ruti and Mayaan’s regular collaborators on Exterritory.
All sorts of cross-cutting themes and resonances emerged from the papers and subsequent discussion that I won’t rehearse here (the event was filmed and will eventually appear on-line) but for me the most striking aspect was the ubiquity of social, economic, political, individual, collective, planned and spontaneous ‘spaces’ that do not conform to the established norms of legally-defined and reproduced ‘territoriality’. Indeed, by the time we’d worked through the ambiguous spatialities of exile, xenomoney, migration, cyberspace, exception, and many others, territory itself was beginning to look like the minority sport. Which, of course, makes it all the more interesting that so much of our legal, institutional, police, military and political activity should be devoted to what emerges as a very narrow and privileged mode of living in and thinking about the world.
On the 25th and 26th of January Gerry Hanlon re-visited Leicester’s CPPE, one of his former stomping grounds, and treated two jam packed seminar rooms to a pair of challenging examples of what they had been missing since he left. One of the projects Gerry was engaged with when he was still in Leicester was the sort of thing which could (and did) get him into a spot of bother at that time (c. 2004-5), namely, an insistence upon a reading of Marx and Hayek, alongside one another, in terms of their epistemological parallels!
Traces of that project have thankfully persisted.
The project Gerry left Leicester with doesn’t look quite so controversial now, in no small part thanks to the fact that Foucault’s Lectures on Bio-Politics, themselves one of the protagonists for Hanlon’s own Inaugural Lecture at Queen Mary’s, have been translated into English. Hanlon’s abiding refusal to divide economic traditions along ideologically essentialist lines holds much more traction in today’s seminar room which has had to acquaint itself with the detail of Foucault’s economic forays through Edinburgh, London, Vienna and Chicago. Evidence for the overcoming of the “post-structuralism = anti-Marxism” fallacy, which the translation of Foucault’s late-1970s lectures has contributed towards, has opened up yet another space for debates about the relationship between philosophy, politics and economics. This is a space where Gerry was already thinking when he left us. It is also the space where his work is still located, albeit now much elaborated.
Details of both sessions run by Gerry can be found below. The full papers are available on request. I’ll leave it to others to discuss the event and its details, with (or without) the above notes of contextualisation in mind.