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Decentering the learner through alternative organizations

Palmer, P, Parker, S. & Racz, M. (2018). Decentering the learner through alternative organizations. Paper presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 09 - 14 Aug 2018, Chicago, USA.


This paper builds on previous studies of experiential learning, reflexivity in management learning, and accounts of teaching through alternative organizations. We theorize management learning from the perspective of students who worked with and researched organizations that present an alternative to typical organizational forms and performative intent. Through an analysis of interviews and reflective diaries, we investigate how students learn in such environments and argue that theories of learning must account for how contexts, in which the performance of profit-orientation breaks down, induce reflexivity. In particular, we draw attention to the role such contexts play in challenging students to dwell in inconsistencies, ambiguities, contradictions and non-linear ideas. Drawing upon the work of
Judith Butler’s theory of performativity we illustrate that such reflexivity is not an individual capacity but a contextual practice. Subsequently, by ‘decentering the learner’ we develop upon existing ideas on reflexive practitioners and develop the burgeoning literature on alternative organizations. We conclude by making the argument that management education, whether critical or not, needs to go beyond awareness and through to responsible action. Such action does not rely on more tools or concepts for individuals but experiences of inhabiting an increasingly ambiguous and complex world.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Published in 2018 Academy of Management Proceedings. Please do not cite without permission. This article is published under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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