The 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies. Extending the limits of neo-liberal capitalism

Last updated, 14 Jun 2012
Starting June 13, 2012 - Ending August 31, 2012 Expired
Wed, 07/10/2013 to Sat, 07/13/2013

This is a call for sub-theme proposals.
Deadline for submission: September 1st, 2012.
Contact: Damian O'Doherty (d.o'

 The 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies

University of Manchester
July 10-12 2013


“A comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical progress”.

In these famous opening lines of One Dimensional Man Marcuse begins to challenge the apparent wealth and progress of mass industrialised civilization during an era in which ‘we never had it so good’. Today that comfort, smoothness and reasonableness appears irredeemably lost offering little more than nostalgia if not a nostalgic fantasy for many living through the evenements of contemporary global capitalism. The impoverishment of an underclass and the degradation of the working class no longer shocks the sensibilities of academics and the intellectual elites but as the standard of living of the middle classes across Europe is slowly being eroded to help publically subsidise a corrupt and failing international financial system we are perhaps on the brink of new class alignments, social formation, struggles, and the emergence of new hegemonic blocs. In 2011 we have seen democratically elected governments and ministers in Greece and Italy toppled by the demands of central European bankers, and as the global financial markets swarm and prey upon the next domino in the chain of European currencies (Portugal, Spain …) we are left to ponder the apocalyptic possibility of widespread systemic crisis and breakdown.

Whilst the ‘very idea’ of democracy in the west seems to have fallen into radical doubt and uncertainty, it is being celebrated as a discourse of emancipation in many North African and Middle-eastern countries. As Timothy Mitchell (2010) has written, what we are witness to is perhaps the end of a twentieth century ‘carbon democracy’ that helped create and sustain particular patterns of international world order. We are doubtless yet to feel the full brunt of shock and reverberation that will resonate across the globe as oil slowly runs out, but this discourse of decline seems to coincide with the rise of a newly emerging series of global and economic powers – not least of which is China, but also Brazil, India, and Russia, who form part of a newly emerging elite currently being institutionalised through the auspices of the G-20 group of international finance ministers and central bank governors. What are the connections and relations between these developments and those complex and over-determined series of riots, occupations, violence, and protest that have returned to the streets of major cities across Europe? Marxiant versions of dialectical thinking and more post-marxist ‘relational’ forms of theorisation would enjoin us to connect this global phenomenon with more local features of management and organization - and in ways that invite us to consider new possibilities for economy and society. Are we entering a new conjuncture or crisis in which the limits of neo-liberal capitalism are increasingly exposed as ungovernable and un-manageable?

What does Critical Management Studies have to say to these issues? What contribution can scholars working within the traditions and latent possibilities of critical management studies make to our understanding of these limits of neo-liberal capitalism? In the past 15 years CMS has encouraged and developed a whole series of alternative and heterodox forms of theorising and practice that have challenged the ‘quietude’ of mainstream business and management studies whose scholars continue to operate as, in Baritz’s famous formulation, ‘the servants of power’. Since Foucault we may now be suspicious whether power and knowledge can ever be severed in ways that allow a realm of pure or value-free knowledge, but these assumptions continue to delude most research conducted for business and management studies. Marxism, post-colonial theory, feminism, critical race studies, queer theory, post-structuralism, and post-modernism were first introduced into business schools through the work of scholars associated with critical management studies. The empirical study of the darker sides of organizational life have also been pioneered within the CMS community – from corporate corruption, accounting and finance irregularities, to the subordination and oppression of minorities by mainstream technocratic managerialism.

We would like to encourage proposals that make efforts to restore those connections that exist between CMS and these ‘big picture’ preoccupations – connections that perhaps we were once embarrassed to consider given the critique of meta-narrative and the fear of totalising arrogance and theoretical hegemony. Clegg has recently chastised the community of organization studies for failing to address the ‘big stories’ of our time and we think CMS is well-placed to revive thinking, imagination and critique relevant to the concerns of our global futures. In its time CMS has been accused of a whole range of failings: for some it has encouraged introversion and self-indulgence, others find it totalising, all-encompassing and hegemonic. We also welcome these criticisms in the spirit of dialogue and critique, particularly given our concerns in this conference to develop thinking and practice around the contemporary limits of neo-liberal capital.

At this stage we are inviting stream proposals that address this theme and submissions are expected to include an outline of the proposed sub-theme (500-750 words), as well as a short description of the team of convenors, including their academic background and experience. We expect most of the submissions to be linked with the overall conference theme, but other submissions are also welcome. We particularly welcome proposals from convenor teams that are international in their composition with convenors coming from at least two countries. We are also keen to encourage critical proposals from the range of business and management studies subject disciplines (accounting and finance, human resource management, industrial relations, marketing, international business, etc).

Deadline for submission of sub-theme proposals: September 1st, 2012.

Convenors will be notified by September 21st 2012 of the outcome of their submissions

For any questions you might have regarding this call for sub-theme proposals please contact Damian O’Doherty from the local organizing committee (d.o'