Critical Management Research: A Case Study in the Production of Knowledge and Organisational Change in the Financial Services Industry

By Erica Hallebone and Jan Priest.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

• Management knowledge, which is eclectic, is frequently ambiguous, incomplete and contested with respect to its theoretical and/or empirical nature.
• Management knowledge about organisational change is frequently concerned with both cultural and structural change that reflects multiple realities of individuals, groups and the firm (e.g. boards, shareholders, customers and companies).
• There is a ‘trialectical’ nature in the relationship between management, the rest of the organisation and external agents such as consultant-researchers. In this paper trialectical refers to the multi-directional creation and use of knowledge.
• The concurrently emergent and directive processes that form meta-knowledge and meta-processes around organisational change are evident in this contemporary practice case.
• Critical management research as an emergent and directive process is indicated in the contemporary practice case discussed in this paper.

The paper integrates key concepts about management knowledge, practice and research, and illustrates and integrates them through a contemporary case study which focuses on:
1. the creation of management knowledge to address change in two radically-different organisations in knowledge-intensive service industries, and;
2. the application of new management methods to diagnose and facilitate the adoption of technology-based tools by a traditional advice-based service business.

To address implications from this and similar cases, a model for research using a critical pragmatic realist perspective is introduced as a framework to mediate and interpret the trialectical relationship between management, organisation and research. Through the way the case study has unfolded we illustrate both the complexities and the need for a critical pragmatic realist perspective and approach, as outlined in the model. We argue that this framework creates the possibility of enhanced understanding and better informed action.

In this case study, it became obvious that the parties’ (predominant) perceptions about each other’s role as outsource or alliance partner continue to evolve. This evolution is increasingly raising some new commercial possibilities with the consequence that the smaller party will be able to introduce significantly new strategic value to both partners - the result will likely be a change in the power relationship between the two. This neatly illustrates the way in which differential knowledge can change power relationships as well as the alternative which is more readily recognised: that the differences in power bring with them differences in the production and use of knowledge.

Keywords: Management Knowledge, Practice and Research

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 6, Issue 11, pp.9-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.418MB).

Dr Erica Hallebone

Graduate School of Business, RMIT University, Australia

Dr Jan Priest

Graduate School of Business, RMIT University, Australia


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