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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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6 The Culture of Business Studies


The final similarity I want to point to concerns the nature of the knowledge being produced and disseminated by the business school itself. Because it borrows the gown and mortarboard of the university, and cloaks its knowledge in the apparatus of science – journals, professors, big words – it is relatively easy to imagine that the knowledge the business school sells and the way that it sells it [is] somehow less vulgar and stupid than it really is. (Parker)

This statement was made in an article entitled “Why We Should Bulldoze the Business School” published in the Guardian in 2018. The author, Martin Parker, is an experienced professor of Organization Studies at the University of Bristol. As he reveals in the subtitle: “There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years.” Parker’s criticism hits the heart of the problem business schools have been facing around the world. As the quotation above shows, there is an inherent relation between the knowledge business schools produce, the way they produce it, and the ethical consequences. It is no accident that I am choosing this example of a British professor here. One finds similar publications in most countries around the world. When typing in the words “business school + bullshit”72 into ←149 | 150→Google, one gets close to 26 million hits.73 Even though education systems around the world vary considerably, most of them have adopted features of the...

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