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Response to Thomas Klikauer's review article 'Management, business, anarchism'.

Response to Thomas Klikauer's review article 'Management, business, anarchism'

Anarchist Studies 23.2 (2015), pp98-103; ISBN 978-1-910448-56-4

Let us start by saying that we are very glad that the ephemera special issue we edited has sparked debate. It is particularly gratifying, given our intention with the special issue, that this debate is taking place in the pages of Anarchist Studies, even if the response comes from a management scholar.

That being said, the fact that the response is written by someone working in a business school who works on management theory means that it does less justice to the synergistic value of the project than we might have hoped. Thomas Klikauer's review focuses more on critical management studies' own internal squabbles than on the overall aims of the special issue. We are very grateful to the editors of Anarchist Studies for giving us the opportunity to respond to Klikauer's review, to continue the debate and to clarify some of our intentions and understandings in relation to critical management studies.

We (Stoborod and Swann that is, not ephemera) were not trying to hide any historical facts about the origins and genealogies of the words 'organisation' and 'management' and the capitalist practices that might lie behind them. Nonetheless, our use of these words attempts to recognise the fact that they can be applied more generally and that people very often (self-)organise and (self-)manage without, thankfully, being organised or managed by bosses, superiors or leaders.

This is the distinction that we insist is crucial and is, we would hope, something that scholars of anarchism and activists themselves would readily recognise. While the word 'management' might conjure certain connotations in the popular imagination, so might the word 'anarchism', and we should be as wary of such connotations in the case of the former as in the latter.

Critical management studies, or CMS to those in the know, does not necessarily equal managerialism in what it advocates, nor top-down management in what it does. For what it's worth, the word 'critical' is still in there as part of the core definition of the field. CMS, for us, is a space where the wheat of human organising capabilities can be separated from the chaff of managerialist ideology and practices of domination and exploitation. Rather than insisting time and again that management (in theory and practice) has no space for anything progressive and shutting yet another door to anarchist research, we think that it is more important to keep open as many doors as possible.

On the other hand, however, we do not want to suggest here that we are therefore wholly in support of everything that happens under the banner of CMS, or that anarchism will find a welcoming home in all areas of the field. While Klikauer is right to note some of the problems of bringing anarchism and CMS together, we would see these less as impossibilities and more as tensions that can be negotiated. CMS does not exist as a total system in harmony (something that could in any case only exist in conservative myth) but as a contested terrain--something that holds true for the potential relationship between CMS and anarchism as well. At some points anarchism will be rejected and CMS will indeed present the accommodation with capitalism. At other points anarchism might take root.

In contrast to Klikauer we would see a meeting of anarchism and CMS, not only as a possibility, but as a reality. The contributions to the ephemera special issue come from a range of scholars, some working in anarchist studies, others in CMS. The fact that so many of the contributors work in business schools, who might explicitly view themselves as CMS academics, and that these facts do not preclude them from conducting valuable research and saying important things about anarchism, should be a clear sign that anarchism can and does have a place in CMS. Ultimately, for us, CMS is a space in which the problems of mainstream and alternative organisation can be spoken about and researched. In that context, we think that anarchism can and should play an important role.

Konstantin Stoborod and Thomas Swann, Leicester University, editors of ephemera special issue Management, Business, Anarchism November 2014, volume 14, number 4; pp591-1079; ISBN 978-1-906948-25-2
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Author:Stoborod, Konstantin; Swann, Thomas
Publication:Anarchist Studies
Date:Mar 22, 2016
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