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Culture and Organization

Deadline: 30 December 2020

Teaching what is not there:

Engaging art in higher education on organizing and management

More than a decade ago, business school scholars and teachers reacted to the university ‘forcing [students] to think in standard and uniform, one-dimensional ways, measured according to a disciplinary criteria that recognises and rewards only parrot fashion learning and conformity’ with a manifesto claiming that ‘education should be about finding ways of unlocking the full range of abilities and potentials that are being buried ever deeper in the minds of youth’ (O’Doherty and Jones 2005, 2). Discussions of management education are lively. While some seek to re-invent it (Beyes et al. 2016) others demand to abolish it altogether and replace with something less reductive and more societally useful, such as schools of organizing (Parker 2018). Education is supposed to, if we consider the etymology of the term, to edu-care, to ‘pull out’ but also to ‘get out’ or to ‘take oneself out’. These notions of education bring to mind images of bringing to the surface what has been buried, hidden, absent so far, of a journey into the unknown and of exploring humanities and social science in search for such new vitality in management education (Statler and Guillet de Monthoux 2015).  

Yet the contemporary project of management abhors both that which is hidden and what is unknown. It is a rhetorical project, aimed at persuading, emphasizing decisiveness, certainty, and clarity, argues James March (2006). Managers wish to present themselves as problem solvers. Such a simplification takes place at the expense of silence, indefiniteness and ambivalence. Indeed, in the words of Heather Höpfl (1995), it becomes an obsession, a compulsive filling in of blanks.  Management becomes an obstruction to the collective flow, like stones in a river; so managers cannot sustain an awareness of the contradictions, paradoxes, ambiguities, and ambivalences of life (March 2006). As it stands, it is a state of mind that hides and controls ambiguity, defining everything and forcing all experience into frames with only an illusion of meaning (Höpfl 1995). In order to change this, more is needed than just re-arranging the curriculum. What is needed is a radical bringing in of perspectives beyond the rhetorical and linear, such as approaches with a focus on not-knowing.

Discussions of humanistic education in management education are explicitly involved with the paradoxical interplay of knowing and not-knowing that provides the vitalism of thinking and learning (see e.g. Gagliardi and Czarniawska 2006; Steyaert et al. 2016). In the literature on art-based management development that engages with learning contexts beyond the university, not-knowing often constitutes an undercurrent (Adler 2006; Berthoin-Antal and  Strauß 2016; Czarniawska-Joerges and Guillet de Monthoux 1994; Darsø 2004; Kerr and  Lloyd 2008; Purg and Sutherland 2017). Central to the latter is the argument that art's ambiguity and involvement with not-knowing is valuable in knowledge-creation processes in organisational contexts (Berthoin Antal 2013). Although there is a tendency to overemphasise knowing to legitimise phases of not-knowing, there are also some authors who stress the importance of art's ability to remain in the state of ambiguity and uncertainty instead of ‘looking for quick fixes and action’ (Gaya Wicks and Rippin 2010, 275).


This Special Issue is interested in bringing the arts to the centre of reimagining management education within the university context. Bringing together the idea of art as a catalyst for exploring not-knowing with the ideals of a higher education on organizing and management promises to bring up important issues that so far have been hidden or marginalised in the discussions on how to reinvent management education.

The issue is thus interested in what other spaces or spacings might emerge when sites of knowing are made blank or ambivalent in artistic practices (Atkinson 2013; Berthoin-Antal and Strauß 2016; Linstead 2018). It is also interested in considering the noises that might result from decoding the precise language, images and representations of rational management accounts in artistic expressions. And it is interested in the atmospheres and affects that emerge when bodies – human bodies, non-human bodies, bodies of discourse, of ideas - relate in a different way when being linked to bodies of art (Michels and Beyes 2016). Likewise, it wants to explore the sense and sensibilities that engaging with art might nurture beyond the totality of knowledge (Rancière 2004; Weschler 2008). 

As such, the Special Issue is dedicated to thinking about engaging the art in pedagogic practices to ‘occupy’ existing, emptied-out concepts and ways of knowing (Kostera 2014) to ‘provoke’ not-knowing (Hjorth 2011), to embrace a ‘pedagogy of unknowing’ (Zembylas 2005), or to make ignorance the basic principle of teaching (Rancière 1991/2007). It is interested in the radically changing roles and positions of teachers and students that such art-based pedagogy implies – the teacher as learner, care-taker, provocateur, dialogue partner; students as creators, experimenters, sense-seekers, thinkers.

At the same time, university education – no matter how radically it is thought about, desired, demanded - does not hover in mid-air but is situated in an institutional context that disciplines teachers and students alike (Rhodes 2016; Rhodes et al. 2018). Even though it is usually only considered meaningful to regard higher education as a value and common good (see e.g. Izak, Kostera and Zawadzki 2016 for an overview), the dominant management model insists on restraining it into a Procrustean bed of league tables, measurements and excellence, administrative demands, curricula and evaluation schemes - the latest example of which is the Teaching Excellence Framework in the UK. Administrative processes enforce a form of governmentality that rewards compliance with the existing knowledge system instead of questioning it (Parker and Jary 1995; Parker 2018). This Special Issue thus also welcomes contributions that address political issues – ethical, political, organisational etc. – of engaging the arts for opening up spaces of not-knowing within environments that are imposed on higher education extracting prescriptive and quantifiable knowledge.

This special issue invites explorations of engaging the arts for teaching what is not there - in the form of what is excluded, neglected or not-known in management education within the context of contemporary university life.

Culture and Organization

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Guest Editors

Anke Strauß, Zeppelin University

Monika Kostera, the Jagiellonian University

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Contributions may consider, but are not limited to the following:

  • Engaging the arts for undoing and opening up concepts of management education
  • Ignorance in the classroom as a mode of learning
  • Provocation of silence and indefiniteness: how to open the mind for new ideas and realities
  • Shutting down the business school: inspirations from art for doing away with the neoliberal educational project
  • Unlearning: How to re-negotiate and interweave different forms of knowing and non-knowing
  • Teaching how to engage the arts for developing new ways of relating and transforming conventional (organising) practices
  • The role of aesthetic or embodied forms of exploring the reinvention of management education
  • How to resist linearity within the present state of the business school and its administrative and bureaucratic demands
  • Ethical dilemmas of opening up ambiguous and experimental learning spaces within environments of (performance) evaluation
  • Issues involved with reconceptualising the role of teachers as co-learners/provocateurs
  • The politics of teaching the unknown through art: disruption, revolution, reformation or something else?
  • Towards the non-reductionist business school: inviting the sublime, aura and other alternative concepts into organizing and managing

This list is intended to be indicative only. Innovative interpretations of the call are encouraged.  With its long tradition of inter-disciplinary approaches, C&O invites papers that draw insights and approaches from across a range of social sciences and humanities.  In addition to scholars working in management and organization studies, we welcome contributions from anthropology, sociology, philosophy, politics, art history, communication, film, gender and cultural studies. We welcome papers from any disciplinary, paradigmatic or methodological perspective as long as they directly address the theme of engaging art and aesthetics in contemporary management higher education.  

Submission and Informal Enquiries

Please ensure that all submissions to the special issue are made via the ScholarOne Culture and Organization site. Please ensure when you do submit that you select the relevant special issue (Volume 28, Issue 2) to direct your submission appropriately. If you experience any problems, please contact the guest editors of this issue via email.

Style and other instructions on manuscript preparation can be found on Culture and Organization's Instructions for Authors siteManuscript length should not exceed 8000 words, including appendices and supporting materials. Please also be aware that any images used in your submission must be your own, or where they are not, you must already have permission to reproduce them in an academic journal. You should make this explicit in the submitted manuscript.

Manuscripts must be submitted by 30 December, 2020.

Prospective authors are invited to discuss manuscript ideas for the special issue with the guest editors before the deadline for submissions. 

Discover more Routledge Organization Studies here


Atkinson, D. 2013. "Pedagogy of the Not Known." In Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, edited by E. Barrett and B. Bolt, 136–145. London, UK: I.B.Tauris.
Berthoin-Antal, A. 2013. "Arts-based Research for Engaging Not-knowing in Organisations." Journal of Applied Arts & Health 4(1): 67-76.
Berthoin Antal, A. and Strauß, A. 2016. "Multistakeholder Perspectives on Searching for Evidence of Values-added in Artistic Interventions in Organizations." In Handbook of Artistic Interventions in Organizations, edited by U. Johannson, J. Woodilla and A. Berthoin-Antal, 37-60. London: Routledge.
Beyes, T., Parker, M. and Steyaert, C. 2016. Reinventing Management Education. London: Routledge.
Biehl-MIssal, B. 2010. "Hero Takes a Fall: A Lesson From Theater for Leardership." Leadership 6(3): 279-294.
Czarniawska-Joerges, B. and Guillet de Monthoux, P., 1994. Good Novels, Better Management: Reading Realities in Fiction. Reading, CT: Harwoood Academic Press.
Darsø, L. 2004. Artful Creation: Learning-tales of Arts-in-business. Copenhagen: Narayana Press.
Eisner, E. 2008. “Art and Knowledge.” In Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research, edited by J.G. Knowles and A.L. Cole, 3-12. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 
Gagliardi, P. and Czarniawska B. 2006. Management and Humanities. London: Edward Elgar.
Gaya Wicks, P. and Rippin, A. 2010. "Art as Experience: An inquiry into Art and Leadership Using Dolls and Doll-making." Leadership 6(3): 259-278
Höpfl, H. 1995. "Organizational Rhetoric and the Threat of Ambivalence." Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies, 1/2: 175-187.
Izak, M., Kostera, M. and Zawadzki, M. 2017. The Future of University Education. London: Palgrave Macmillam.
Kerr, C. and Lloyd, C. 2008. "Pedagogical Learnings for Management Education: Developing Creativity and Innovation." Journal of Management & Organization 14(5): 486-503.
March, J. G. 2006. “Poetry and the Rhetoric of Management: Easter 1916.” Journal of Management Inquiry, 15(1): 70-72.
Meisiek, S., Guillet de Monthoux, P., Barry, D. and Austin, R. 2016. “Four Voices: Making a Difference with Art in Management Education.” In Reinventing Management Education, edited by Beyes, T., Parker, M. and Steyaert, C., 330-341. London: Routledge.
Michels, C. and Beyes, T. 2016. “On Atmospheres of Education.” In Reinventing Management Education, edited by Beyes, T., Parker, M. and Steyaert, C., 321-329. London: Routledge.
O’Doherty, D. and Jones, C. 2005. Manifestos for the Business School of Tomorrow. Dvalin Books.
Rancière, J. 1991/2007. The Ignorant Schoolmaster. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Rancière, J. 2004. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (G. Rockhill, ed. and trans.). London, UK: Continuum.

Rhodes, C. 2016. “Permission Taking: The Humanities and Critical Pedagogy in the MBA.” In Reinventing Management Education, edited by Beyes, T., Parker, M. and Steyaert, C., 361-373. London: Routledge.
Rhodes, C., Wright, C. and Pullen, A. 2018. "Changing the World? The Politics of Activism and Impact in the Neoliberal University." Organization 25(1): 139-147.
Rippin, A. 2012. "Eliza, Anita and Me: An Art Investigation into Using Portraiture as a Research Method in Organization Studies." Culture and Organization 18(4): 305-322.
Parker, M. 2018. Shut Down the Business School! What’s Wrong with Management Education. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Parker, M. and Jary, D. 1995. "The McUniversity: Organization, Management and Academic Subjectivity." Organization 2(2): 319–38.

Purg, D. and Sutherland, I. 2017. "Why Art in Management Education? Questioning Meaning." Academy of Management Review 42(2): 382-406.
Statler, M. and Guillet de Monthoux, P. 2015. "Humanities and Arts in Management Education: The Emerging Carnegie Paradigm." Special Issue of Journal of Management Education 39(1).
Steyaert, C., Hoyer, P. and Resch, B. 2016. "Playing and the Performing Arts: Six Memos for the Future Classroom." In Reinventing Management Education, edited by Beyes, T., Parker, M. and Steyaert, C., 342-357. London: Routledge.
Weschler, L. 2008. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees – Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin. Berkley: University of California Press.
Zembylas, M. 2005. "A Pedagogy of Unknowing: Witnessing Unknowability in Teaching and Learning." Studies in Philosophy and Education 24(2): 139–160.