Article – A Mosquito in the Classroom

Audebrand, Luc K., Annie Camus, und Valérie Michaud. 2017. A Mosquito in the Classroom: Using the Cooperative Business Model to Foster Paradoxical Thinking in Management Education. Journal of Management Education 41 (2): 216–248. doi: 10.1177/1052562916682552. [http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1052562916682552]

Although the paradox perspective is gaining increasing attention among management scholars, most of us continue to struggle with addressing this challenging topic in the classroom, as it seems out of reach for many students. In this article, we describe a potentially beneficial way to approach paradoxical thinking in management education: teaching the cooperative business model. Cooperatives are user-owned, user-controlled, and user-benefitting enterprises that operate in the world’s most competitive economies and sectors of activity, demonstrating strong resilience in periods of turbulence and crisis. We argue that, despite the absence of the cooperative business model in mainstream management textbooks and curricula, this model can offer a high pedagogical value for management education in that it can foster paradoxical thinking. To support this claim, we first demonstrate how the cooperative business model is characterized by inherent paradoxes that are more salient and inescapable than they might be in conventional corporations, thus generating tension-filled material for student engagement. Second, we share experiential pedagogical tools and suggest potential learning outcomes. Finally, we discuss some practical implications for integrating cooperatives and other alternative organizations in mainstream management education curricula to help develop paradoxical thinking.

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