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Did you hear the one about the Anarchist Manager?

24 Sep

The 3rd Anarchist Studies Network conference took place between the 3rd and the 5th of September, at that network’s home, Loughborough University. As with the 2nd ASN conference two years ago, we organised a stream at the conference which invited participants to consider the relationship between Anarchism and (Critical) Management Studies (CMS). Over the past two years we also organised a similar event at the Manchester Critical Management Studies conference and a double book launch, here at Leicester. These various events, taken together, are leading up to a special issue of the open-access online journal ephemera, entitled “Management, Business, Anarchism”, due to be published this November. It has been an interesting two years.

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The Evolution of Critical Management Studies?

13 Aug

Here’s a post I helped write with Marton Racz about a PhD conference were helping organise at the University of Leicester on the 16th and 17th of September.

It is just over three years since Martin Parker and Robyn Thomas published their influential description of the concerns which a critical academic journal should have. Parker and Thomas – renowned critical scholars both – then and until very recently presided over Organization, within which the piece was published, as editors-in-chief. Just like their predecessors, they understood themselves to be developing and maintaining a critical tradition of scholarship by developing and maintaining the journal Organization. So within the hall of mirrors predicament that is reflexive manifesto making, as anybody who reads the article can see, a disgruntled form of modesty evidently prevails. So too, one can also read, does evolutionary imagery:

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck, then it’s probably a duck, even it likes to claim that it is a velociraptor (p. 424).

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Final Reminder: Anarchism and Critical Management Studies

26 Feb

Please find below a link to the call for papers for the Anarchism and Critical Management Studies stream at the 8th International CMS conference to be held in Manchester from the 10th to 12th of July 2013. The final deadline for abstracts submissions is the end of this week (01/03/13), so please do get in touch and send us something as soon as possible if you would like to participate. You should email both Thomas (trs6 (at) le (dot) ac (dot) uk) and Kostya (ks302 (at) le (dot) ac (dot) uk).

One may get the impression with this initiative that we are trying to marry two mutually exclusive traditions: anarchism and management. We would argue that there is in fact nothing exclusive about the study of management, either as a phenomenon of capitalist society or as a mode of organisation, and anarchism. Sadly, the only points of contact between the two seem to have been in the co-opting of anarchist and other radical ideas into mainstream management discourse; for example, think of non-heirarchical, networked workplaces or canteens with vegan options. Is it the case that these and other examples have been deprived through their integration of their powerful ethical and political potentials, or can they be salvaged for radical political praxis?

To say the least, management annoys us intensely, primarily because it is more often than not the management of one group of people by other people: workers by managers, women by men, non-white people by white people, and so on. This is one point at which anarcha-feminism, queer anarchism and postcolinial theory can intervene in the debate around anarchism and management, and we would encourage anyone working on the intersection between anarcha-feminist theory, queer theory or anarchist race theory and how these relate to contemporary business and management to consider submitting an abstract. We recognise that our original call for submissions didn’t reflect this openness to a complete picture of the social and political struggle against capital and as a result perhaps excluded many non-male and non-white academics, but we assure you this was not intentional and we more than welcome submissions dealing with all aspects of anarchist theory and how they relate to management and business, both in terms of critiquing mainstream models and realities and defining alternatives.

Another thing we want to encourage is submissions that deal with topics that are perhaps sometimes considered peripheral to management but that are nonetheless crucial to the development of both business and anarchist struggle (if such a neutral appreciation of a means can be accepted); for example, marketing and PR, economic analysis, etc.

If you or any of your friends and/or colleagues are working on anything that would fit within this broad definition of anarchism and critical management studies, then please do get in touch with us as soon as possible.

The full CFP is available here:

Anarchism and Social Technology panel – conference papers online

14 Jan

Back in September I participated in the anarchism and social technology panel organised by Simon Collister at the Anarchist Studies Network conference held at Loughborough University. Simon has put the full conference papers (his, Aaron Peters’ and mine) online since then. You can find the links to Simon’s and Aaron’s papers over at Simon’s blog. If you’d like to have a look at my paper, which is only in draft form and is basically the text of my presentation rather than a full paper (my work on the final paper has been interrupted by teaching and marking but will begin in earnest again soon), you can see it right here. This is probably the briefest and yet most developed summary of my PhD research so far (it’s still early days yet).

Two CFPs on Anarchism and Critical Management Studies

10 Oct

We got some great news this week. Not only was a proposal for a special issue of the journal ephemera: theory and politics in organisation on anarchism and critical management studies, put together by Konstantin Stoborod and yours truly, accepted, but we also heard that our proposal, that we collaborated on with Stevphen Shukaitis, for a stream on the same topic at next year’s Critical Management Studies (CMS, get used to that acronym, I’ll be using it a lot on here) conference at the University of Manchester also been given the green light. This is really something to be happy about. Only a few months ago the very idea of putting anarchism and CMS together in the same room was novel, if not downright offensive, and now these two happenings follow hot on the trail of our successful stream at the Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) conference in September.

The CMS conference call for papers doesn’t seem to be online yet, so I’ve added it here as a page: you can see it in the menu above this post or click here if you’re very lazy. The deadline for the CMS conference call for papers is the end of April 2013.

As for the ephemera call, you can find out all you need to know here. The deadline for that one is the 28th of June 2013.

Just to give you an idea of what we’re looking for, the obligatory ‘topics could include but are not limited to…’ looks like this:

  • Organisational norms and practices in 21st century radical social movements
  • Economic, political, social and environmental protests
  • Can anarchism be found (or lost) in the business school?
  • The relationship between post-Marxism and anarchism
  • Postanarchist critiques on meta-narratives following the economic crisis
  • New technologies, new attitudes and their effects on horizontality in organising
  • Business ethics and anarchist ethics
  • Leadership: managerial and anarchist perspectives
  • Promotion and “marketing” of anarchist theory and practice
  • Embodiment and performativity in protest movements
  • Emotions and affectivity of the alternative
  • Global anti-authoritarian and/or anti-capitalist trends reflected in local practices
  • Anarchism as the outsider of CMS
  • Is there a science of anarchist organisation?
  • The promise of radical opportunity always being elsewhere

Although these two calls are separate, we see them as parts in the larger project that began with the ASN conference stream in September, and we will surely be considering submissions to the CMS conference, as well as the presentations in the ASN stream, for publication in the ephemera special issue. But of course you can submit to one or the other solely.

Hopefully we’ll hear from you soon with abstracts or suggestions for involvement in either the ephemera special issue or the CMS conference stream, or both! If you want to get in touch with us about these, please email me at trs6 (at) le (dot) ac (dot) uk and Konstantin at ks302 (at) le (dot) ac (dot) uk.

Anarchist Studies Network conference 2012

15 Sep

Last week I participated in the second conference from the Anarchist Studies Network, both as a speaker and as a stream co-organiser. On the first afternoon, I had the pleasure of speaking about my research in a panel organised by Simon Collister and which also included a very interesting presentation by Aaron Peters. The abstracts are currently available on Simon’s blog and hopefully the papers will be made available in some form in the near future.

I also co-organised a stream, with Konstantin Stoborod, on the second day looking at the (potential) connections between anarchism and critical management studies. This was a bit of a gamble as anarchists aren’t exactly fond of the idea of management and given that not many at the conference would have heard of critical management studies, we we’re worried that attendance would be minimal. In fact, the mention of management seemed to interest a lot of people and the stream was very well attended, and if gossip and eavesdropping are anything to go by, quite a few more were provoked by the stream. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad press.

The stream was split into two sessions, one with three presentations and the other with a round-table discussion on anarchism and critical management studies. In the first session, Neil Sutherland and George Kokkinidis presented on the organisational principles and realities of an anarchist student group and three Greek workers’ collectives respectively. Neil’s talk focussed on the role of leadership among the student anarchists and related anarchist ideas about non-hierarchical organisation to the literature in leadership studies. George, on the other hand, present the early results of his fieldwork done this summer in Greece and spoke about the decision-making structures in the three workers’ collectives. These talks were followed by Bojan Radej who presented all the way from Slovenia via Skype. Bojan spoke about anti-systems movements and social exclusion.

In the afternoon on the second day of the conference we also organised a round-table discussion which was chaired by Prof. Martin Parker of the University of Leicester. This discussion, the recording of which will soon be made available, looked at the possibility of speaking about anarchism and management in a complementary way. On the whole, it was a great conference and a great opening to our project of bringing anarchism and critical management studies together so that each discipline can learn from the other. This is something we’ll be pushing forward with in the coming months and years with similar events planned for next year and a special issue of a journal on the topic planned for publication in 2014.


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