About CMS

Last updated, 23 Apr 2016

What is CMS?

Critical Management Studies (CMS) is a largely left-wing and theoretically informed  approach to management and organisation studies. It challenges the prevailing conventional understanding of management and organisations. CMS provides a platform for debating radical alternatives whilst interrogating the established relations of power, control, domination and ideology as well as the relations among organisations, society and people.

As an umbrella research orientation CMS embraces various theoretical traditions including anarchism, critical theory, feminism, Marxism, post-structuralism, postmodernism, postcolonialism and psychoanalysis, representing a pluralistic, multidisciplinary field. Having been associated mainly with business/management schools in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia earlier, CMS as a research approach has presence all over the world and is not confined to management/business schools. This suggests that CMS is an approach to doing research rather than a school or tradition, and there is no particular 'right' way of doing CMS.
Denaturalisation, non-performativity and reflexivity (Fournier & Grey, 2000) are the key features of CMS for some, while critical performativity (Spicer et al., 2009) is something other researchers would argue for. Recently there has also been a rise in discussing alternative forms of organising (Parker et al., 2014), including alternatives to the growth-driven neoliberal capitalism. Beyond CMS research, the issue of what it means to be a CMS scholar is of particular concern. Challenging the (class/gender/racial) power structures in academic workplaces and the politics of university life (e.g. around journal publishing, corporatisation, precarity), as well as involvement in activism are among the key themes to be reflected on here.
Bi-ennial CMS conferences have been organized since 1999. CMS also has presence at annual European Group of Organization Studies colloquiums, Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, and other academic conferences. There is a CMS division within the Academy of Management also.
The information on mailing lists one can subscribe to is available here

Why a portal for CMS?

The aim of this website is to gather information about CMS in one place as well as develop its own content (e.g. overviews on philosophers and CMS, overviews of themes researched within CMS, commentated bibliography etc) through collaboration of the CMS community. All the content is created by the members of CMS community.

criticalmanagement.org is for everyone who wants to find out about and keep updated with CMS, both academic and non-academic, working in CMS and other areas. Through this, we hope to bring the spheres of education, practice and transformation closer together.

Ethos, history and governance of criticalmanagement.org:

criticalmanagement.org is an independent platform of and for the CMS community (effectively unpresided). All of the website's content comes directly from people and groups in the CMS community and is facilitated by a team of volunteers (which is always open to new people – e-mail criticalmanagementorg@gmail.com to get involved). Funding for maintenance, upgrades and hosting of the website is kindly provided by a surplus from the CMS conferences.
criticalmanagement.org was founded following the CMS conference in Cambridge (2005), using the surplus from conference fees. It was set up by Hugh Willmott and facilitated by Kate Kenny and Todd Bridgman. Since 2011, it has been facilitated by Ekaterina Chertkovskaya and Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar. The website went through a major upgrade in 2014.
Since 2015, the following governance model has been introduced to ensure the continuity of the website and maintain its ethos:
- The website is facilitated by a team of volunteers and maintained with the help of professional IT support.
- The organisers of the most recent CMS conference take care of the financial support of the website for two consecutive years and then pass it to the next team of conference organisers.
- One of the conference organisers takes the symbolic and honorary role of the owner of the website's domain name for the same period of time. This rotation of domain ownership highlights the community ownership of the website. The domain owner works closely with the team of volunteers on behalf of conference organisers and they are accountable to each other.
For 2015-2017 Jo Brewis has taken the role of the domain owner on behalf of the community. For 2017-2019 she will pass the flag to the new team of conference organisers.