Critical Management Studies is Coming Home

Deputy Head of School Professor Jo Brewis briefly outlines details of the thematic streams awaiting delegates of next summer’s 9th Critical Management Studies (CMS) Conference

Martin Parker has already explained why Leicester’s management academics have regularly had the cheek to criticize the pervasiveness of managerialism. Managerialism, he argued, should not be seen as the natural panacea for all our global ills: alternatives to the ubiquity of neoliberal market managerialism exist. It has been left to me to announce how such an exploration of alternatives will be realised at next year’s Critical Management Studies (CMS) conference.

Our organising committee is now delighted to be able to confirm the contributions of three notable key note speakers: environmental and anti-globalization author and activist Vandana Shiva, employee ownership expert David Erdal and psychologist, writer, producer and social commentator Oliver James. We also have the privilege of announcing 28 separate streams. Mindful of the presumptuousness of speaking on behalf of others, I’d encourage you to read up on each of these individually for the sake of seeing what their organizers actually have to say for themselves. Nevertheless, for the purposes of brevity, I’ve bundled the streams together below with respect to their thematic similarity. So with apologies to all of our stream convenors…

Five of the streams adopt very far reaching perspectives in their search for alternatives. Stream 3 sees “catastrophic conditions as the products of human action and thus subject to change” while stream 6 on democracy, subversion and dissensus concentrates not on the question of whether alternative realities are possible but on the practices of their realization. Stream 22, on escaping capitalism, constructs trajectories out of contemporary socio-economic arrangements while stream 23 challenges “a particular version” of history which plays down “the many alternatives … to the apparent ubiquity of neoliberalism and managerialism”. Stream 28 on political economy considers “the organization of total social capital” in order to reposition management and organization studies within its wider socio-economic capitalist context. In all five of these cases, though not just here, delegates are being asked to understand managerialism as something embedded within larger and more significant circuits.

Another five of the streams then seek to demarcate a specific aspect of management within which the notion of heterodoxy warrants further pursuit. Stream 4, on finance and its alternatives; stream 7, on alternative food and drink markets; stream 11, on health and social management; stream 21, on management education; and stream 26, on ecological accountancy and accounting; each require their participants to consider how their particular objects have been presented, thus delimiting alternatives. Contributors towards each of these streams will therefore be expected to shake a specific area of management out of its dogmatic slumber.

Yet another five streams will take their bearings from specific forms of organizing: stream 9, on the degradation of the employment relationship; stream 17, on fourth wave feminism; stream 19, on civil society, voluntary and not-for-profit organizations; stream 24, on cooperative and community-owned organizations; and stream 25 on employee share ownership in Central and Eastern Europe. Here, the emphasis is clearly on describing organisation as a phenomenon underpinned by profoundly theoretical and demonstrably practical dimensions.

The search for alternatives regularly evokes spatial imagery which is why we have four streams organised around the themes of space and placestream 5, on culture and regional governance; stream 8 on international development; stream 16, on migration, borders and mobility; and stream 18, on place marketing and branding.

Four streams will also be devoted to the task of scrutinizing the constitution, activities and effects of economically, socially and ideologically powerful groups: stream 10, on global elites; stream 12, on the professions; stream 20, on entrepreneurs; and stream 28, on managers.

There will be two streams organized around a concern with the ethics of scholarly interaction: stream 2, a pre-conference PhD workshop focused on writing about alternatives and stream 14, a women-only stream organized by VIDA, following its principles of critical friendship. Two streams invite participants to engage with the arts: stream 13, on the organization of artistic production; and stream 15, on cultural animation, on the other hand, both making broadly empirical enquiries in the first instance and broadly methodological and pedagogical enquiries in the second. In addition to all of this, an open stream is being run for “authors whose work does not really fit within any of the other streams but their papers broadly fit with the conference theme”.

Like I said, you really need to read through each of the streams to get a real sense for the variety of discussions we’re very much looking forward to hosting next July. Beyond following through the links above, you can also email us at if you require any further information.

Originally published at

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