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Risky business: Reflections on critical performativity in practice
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School.
Number of Authors: 32018 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323, Vol. 25, no 3, p. 428-445Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Critical scholars in the business school are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of their research beyond the confines of academia. This has been articulated most prominently around the concept of critical performativity'. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with critical leadership scholars, this article explores how academics engage with practitioners at the same time as they seek to maintain a critical ethos in relation to their external activities. While proponents of critical performativity tend to paint a frictionless picture of practitioner engagementwhich can take the form of consulting, coaching, and leadership developmentwe show how critical scholars may end up compromising their academic values in corporate settings due to practitioner demands and other institutional pressures. Taken together, these pressures mean that critical scholars often need to negotiate a series of (sometimes insoluble) dilemmas in practitioner contexts. We argue that the concept of critical performativity is unable to contend meaningfully with these tensions because it replicates the myth of the heroic-transformational academic' who is single-handedly able to stimulate critical reflection among practitioners and provoke radical change in organizations. We conclude with a call for further reflection on the range of ethical dilemmas that can arise during academic-practitioner engagement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 25, no 3, p. 428-445
Keywords [en]
Critical leadership studies, critical performativity, practitioner engagement, relevance
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156598DOI: 10.1177/1350508417749737ISI: 000432098800007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-156598DiVA, id: diva2:1211027
Available from: 2018-05-30 Created: 2018-05-30 Last updated: 2018-05-30Bibliographically approved

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