Deconstructing the Organizational Behavior Text

“Although the pedagogy of organizational behavior (OB) has made some progress in addressing gender, racial, and cultural diversity in the past decade, it remains essentially noncritical-politically, economically, socially, and ecologically. It continues to uphold positivist conventions, reinforce modernistic illusions of objectivity, and resist reflexivity. This article advocates that OB pedagogy in method and content, in particular teaching that involves the textbook as a basis of instruction, becomes more reflexive and self-critical, more aware of its presuppositions, interests, and limitations. This article demonstrates a postmodernistic strategy to counter the overly totalizing and positivist currents in OB teaching and texts—the deconstruction of taken-for-granted assumptions and principles. To this end, one of the top-selling textbooks in OB is subjected to deconstruction. The case for deconstruction as a potentially powerful classroom tool, an active and inclusive learning strategy that encourages readers to engage in dialogue with OB teachers and the authors of OB texts, is made.”

Abstract from: Debra J. Summers, David M. Boje, Robert F. Dennehy, Grace Ann Rosile (1997) Deconstructing the Organizational Behavior Text. Journal of Management Education, Vol 21, Issue 3, pp. 343 – 360

I know that quite a few of you might think about this text as being a bit old and, hence, probably also outdated. However, I would argue: NO, IT ISN’T! Looking at the newer edition of the textbook that the authors deconstruct or on any other of the more traditional OB textbooks, I would say that these books continue to be “noncritical-politically, economically, socially, and ecologically”. Of course, OB textbooks nowadays write about gender, minorities (at least some of them do), environmental issues, or inequality. However, they subordinate these aspects under the premise to provide students with an overview of instrumental knowledge to be used to make capitalist for-profit organisations more efficient. Once the students become managers they should remember and apply this knowledge to promote the idea of capitalist production and managerial governance of corporations, thereby perhaps reinforcing students to uphold and strengthen the conditions that causes the social and environmental problems that we face nowadays. If this sounds too ‘leftist’ for you, let me put it differently. Traditional OB textbooks are not at the forefront of promoting alternative thinking among management students. Therefore, if these textbooks continue to be uncritical, how could we expect that our students would be able to address the problems that our planet currently faces?

This entry was posted in capitalist economy, Change, Critical pedagogy, Critical thinking, Management, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

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