On the Power and Poverty of Critical (Self) Reflection in Critical Management Studies: A Comment on Ford, Harding and Learmonth


  • I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments and feedback.


Ford, Harding and Learmonth in their paper in the March 2010 special issue of the British Journal of Management ask ‘who is it that would make business schools more critical?’ Commenting on their paper, I argue that although they raise a very important question they do not deliver rigorous answers because their critical reflexive gaze fails to fall upon the mechanisms of hierarchy and exclusion that operate within the critical management studies (CMS) community. First the reflexivity debate in CMS and Ford, Harding and Learmonth's contribution to this debate is explored. Next institutionalized orthodoxies in CMS, such as the tendency to close ranks for those with different perspectives and the lack of demographic diversity, are problematized, and Ford, Harding and Learmonth's contribution is situated across these orthodoxies. Finally, the commentary offers some alternatives and solutions for CMS to take the step further from verbalism to critical praxis. It is suggested that the solution lies in exercising critical self-reflection which acknowledges the embeddedness of CMS in structures and relations of power and hegemony and recognizes the role of CMS scholars in sustaining and reproducing these structures in their own institutions and communities.