An Alternative Liminal Journey of a Head of Department: The Unfolding Hysteric Tensions, Questions & Lessons Learnt

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Abstract

This paper explores the extent to which a manager could paradoxically develop a contestation to managerialist practices, through his role as departmental head of a UK business school. By taking an auto-ethnographic approach, as a departmental head myself, I will reflect upon the cultural, political and individual tensions over a year, emerging from my attempt to develop a liminal space/place for my colleagues. This was initially framed as research development, called the ‘Shoreside Sessions’, organized around a disconnected social and physical space. The intention was to understand whether this led to a respite from managerialism or any contestation to managerialist practices. Looking through a Lacanian conceptual lens, the research findings offer a tempered hope that middle management, demonised by much of the critical management studies (CMS) literature, could play a partial but pivotal role, in providing a hysteric, questioning space for contestation to then emerge. This is limited in a temporal sense, due to the growing conflicting managerialist, institutional agendas, which department heads are increasingly expected to deliver. The other main contribution is the role played by Lacanian discourses and psychic registers in helping academic managers with the process of reflexivity around intent and impact of liminal spaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Early online date4 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2022

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