Revising the boundaries: management education and learning in a postpositivist world

Stewart R. Clegg*, Anne Ross-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of bounded rationality provides a premise from which one can interrogate the development of management as an academic discipline founded on the assumptions of a "normal" science. Our concern is with the consequences of this for the content of management education and its addressees, namely the students (receivers), and teachers and texts (senders) that carry and disseminate the ideas and pedagogy of management education. We draw a distinction between a science of objects and a science of subjects, arguing that the latter is a more appropriate frame for the discipline of management. We introduce the idea of management knowledge based on "phronesis," central to which is a concern with power, history, and imagination. We discuss power and the politics of organizing as a case study and conclude that if the teachers and graduates of today's schools of business and management were to aspire to Aristotelian virtues of " phronesis," they would need to learn in an environment in which discursive plurality is accepted and acknowledged, and where obstinate differences in domain assumptions are explicitly tolerated. In terms of pedagogy, we need to refocus the curriculum less around answers to apparent problems and more on questions that undercut the apparent problematics of the answers proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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