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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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1 Introduction


The master’s program North American Studies deals with the complex literatures and cultures of North America (USA and Canada). It will offer prospective students interdisciplinary teaching and the latest academic research. Above all, the program focuses on the multi-facetted interculturality of the respective countries by incorporating recently developed research methods and approaches, also in a transnational perspective. Moreover, students will obtain additional comprehensive knowledge and can specialize in the fields of Gender Studies, Media Studies, and other disciplines in North American Studies. (“M.A. North American Studies”)

Management is thus what tradition used to call a liberal art: ‘liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; ‘art’ because it is practice and application. Managers draw on all social sciences – on psychology and philosophy, on economics and on history, on the physical sciences and on ethics. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results. (Drucker, New Realities 223)

What is not in a name? Readers familiar with the history of American Studies will notice that I am hinting at the widely debated presidential address of Janice Radway at the 1999 American Studies Association convention (ASA) (45). Radway’s speech “What Is in a Name” was groundbreaking because it touched the core of the self-definition of the field. My alteration with the small but important insertion “not” is to shift the focus to the content of the field, rather than to the name. The example of a program description of the M.A....

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