The University and the Role of the (Critical) Business School

Critical University Studies (CUS) is a term which has recently come out of discussions between Carnegie-Mellon literary theorists Jeffrey J. Williams and Heather Steffen. Many of us have already been engaged with CUS, at least according to the manner in which it is described in the article linked above. Having enjoyed reading the article a couple of times, I have 2 connections between CUS and other areas which I’d encourage everyone to consider. 
1) To the specificities of the University based Business School (in light of Khurana, Ghoshal, Locke and Spender, The Rigour/Relevance Debate, Against Management, Critical Management Studies, ABS List, Global Campuses, Distance Learning, etc.)
2) To the current University reforms within the UK (the Fees Debacle [see especially the recent Martin McQuillan documentary, REF 2014 and after, impact based assessment of the university, etc.)
Any insights in this regard would be hugely appreciated.

2 thoughts on “The University and the Role of the (Critical) Business School

  1. I’d say that it’s important too think about what we are being critical of in CUS. Are we being critical of the university as an institution that fails to live up to some ideal image, of university managers who install corporate best-practice, of politicians who introduce silly fees, or of a society who turns to the university to solve its problems but can’t find a reason to support it, or of individual academics who go along with various corruptions despite knowing better?

    If we take CMS, for example, I think that a big problem for the area has been an inability of CMS researchers too distinguish between being critical of management and being critical of management studies. I’m not saying the two are not linked in important ways but the result has been that we’ve spent a lot of time critique management studies and eventually being critical of critical management studies at the expense of really engaging with management.

  2. Hmmn… this is interesting, and I’m enjoying the I Melt the Glass with My Forehead film. One problem with Jeffery Williams’s piece is that he doesn’t mention any of my work as an example of CUS. But I’m also ambivalent about the idea of defining — and thereby delimiting — a field of research, namely Critical University Studies. Obviously I think it’s important we criticise our own conditions of work and what it is we actually do and its effects on students and society more broadly. BUT, I worry if this criticism becomes a specialist activity for some academics to engage in — thus allowing other academics to “carry on as normal”? Makes me think that what we perhaps need is “militant research”, or “co-research” into the university.

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