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Narrative Change Management in American Studies

A Pragmatic Reading


Silke Schmidt

Management means getting things done. How can research on the theory and practice of management help American Studies move forward? This book offers a pragmatic approach to bridging the gap between the humanities and business studies. Based on a critical reading of the disciplinary cultures of American Studies and Business School education, the book analyses narratives of U.S. management theorists and practitioners, including Peter F. Drucker, Mary Cunningham, and John P. Kotter. The stories help readers acquire effective management and leadership tools for application-oriented humanities in the digital age.

"With her outsider perspective on the discourse in management research and application, Schmidt proposes interesting questions that can turn into fruitful research issues in Business Studies and its interdisciplinary exchange with American Studies. I hope this book falls on open ears." – Evelyn Korn

"Schmidt did pioneering work by taking the risk of entering novel terrain to show new paths for the further development of American Studies." – Carmen Birkle

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Knowing “What” to Do Is Not Enough. (Pfeffer and Sutton 1)

The two organizational researchers Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton in their book about the Knowing-Doing Gap (2000) employ the above-mentioned quote to demonstrate that smart companies do not always do what they know is best. I think that this can also be transferred to the academic realm beyond Business Studies. Before I start telling my longer tale of how I would like to fill the scholarly gap, I need to start with some “auto-ethnography” (Van Maanen 106). This is not only because John Van Maanen, the forerunner of ethnographic writing in scholarship, is an organizational researcher and works at business schools – both elements will be important in this book. It is also because I share H. L. Goodall’s conviction that the world needs more “stories” of researchers who write “Tales of the Future” (262). In order to prepare the reader for the future that this book envisions, I want to prepare my storyline by sharing three short anecdotes. To the reader who thinks that academic books are not the right place for anecdotes, I understand the hesitation. Since I am a pragmatist, however, the point is that these anecdotes provide the executive summary of the 300+ pages that follow. So, in order to be efficient, I would encourage all critics to give reading the anecdotes a second thought, especially since the practice of reading will be the central theme in this study.

The first event...

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