Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Call for Papers: Business, Management, Social Sciences, Humanities and Artistic Practice

The following are two streams on 'The art of opression' and 'the art of subversion' which will be included in the second 'Art of Management and Organization' conference to be held at ESCP-EAP European School of Management, 79, avenue de la République, 75543 Paris, France, 7th to 10th September 2004

More information can be found on the conference website at: http://www.essex.ac.uk/AFM/emc/second_art_of_management_and_org.htm

Contributions are welcomed from across the social sciences, humanities and artistic practice.

The Art of Oppression

"In a situation where the miserable reality can only be changed through radical political praxis, the concern with aesthetics demands justification*"
Marcuse (1979) The Aesthetic Dimension

Marcuse's words neatly encapsulate the aim of this stream proposal - what does art (and aesthetics) have to do with management? Why, when capitalism still grows fat on the fruits of child labour, and squeezes its profits from the sweatshop, are we concerning ourselves with the frivolity of art and aesthetics?

Of course, the birth of organizational aesthetics in the early 1990's heralded a welcome recognition that processes of human sensemaking, organizing and managing at work are far more sensuous, embodied, passionate and 'aesthetico-intuitive' (Gagliardi 1996: 576) than traditional modernist organizational discourses had tried to make out, and these issues are undoubtedly ripe for exploration - indeed these themes have provided fertile ground for the convenors of this stream - and yet, within this hallelujah chorus, it is worryingly hard to make out the critical voice that started the whole 'aesthetic movement' in the first place. Have things gone a bit too far? Are we in danger of becoming a bunch of 'organizational lovies'?

While there is much of analytic interest to be had from an aesthetic perspective on management and organization, the "dark side" of Art and Management is not insignificant. Theatre used as a mode of controlling organizational actors, art used as a way to mollify political demands, style used as an offensive weapon - in corporate life we can find a number of ways in which art and aesthetic moves are used not to enhance organizational experience but to establish hegemony. The romantic notion of art as a panacea is of course a fallacy, but one we buy into far too easily.

The official "art" of Nazi Germany, Soviet socialist realism and the celebratory aesthetics of almost any dictatorship shows us how art can be used in an oppressive fashion. Still, the modern versions of this - corporations sponsoring "suitable" art, the omnipresent portraits of great men in company boardrooms, art used as symbolic capital in company presentations - has strangely enough escaped our attention, for the most part. Art, in the eyes of management and organization studies, is still "a good thing".

So, in this (we hope) deliberately antagonistic stream, we invite critical submissions that question the implications of a celebratory perspective on the integration of the arts, aesthetics and management. We envisage papers that address the following areas but this list is by no means exhaustive and we would welcome creative interpretations of the stream:

• Art as ideological/managerial oppression
• Art as a mode of resistance against change and subversion
• The appropriation of aesthetic experience by organizations
• Art as the handmaiden of capitalism
• Management though "art"
• "Corporate realism"
• Aesthetics as control
• The cultural capital of aesthetics in management studies
• The ethics of researching aesthetic experience in organizations
• The aestheticization of teaching
• The aestheticization of research

The aim of the stream is thus to question, problematize and deepen the way in which notions of art and aesthetics are used within management studies, and to allow a space for critical and political analysis of the interest in such notions. Although the stream looks favourably on different interpretations and approaches to this issue, the main interest will be on the "political economy of art in organizations" - i.e. theoretical and empirical investigations of how art and aesthetics can be used to establish the hegemony of contemporary corporate capitalism.

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of researchers, and acceptance will be based on theoretical and/or empirical interest, as well as the dynamics they bring to the stream seen as a whole. The stream convenors particularly welcome submissions from doctoral students, and such submissions will receive special attention. Performances and artistic expressions are welcomed, and will be double-blind reviewed by a panel of artists to ensure aesthetic potential. The aim of the convenors is to develop a dedicated publication or publications based on the submissions for the stream.

Alf Rehn
Associate Professor
Royal Institute of Technology
Stockholm, Sweden

Samantha Warren
Dept. of Business & Management
University of Portsmouth, UK

The Art of Subversion Art Against Management, Art For Different Organizational Futures
Conveners: Steffen Böhm, André Spicer and Mel Strauss.

In this stream we hope to explore how art has been and can be used as a tool for subverting dominant organisational hegemonies, such as market managerialism, and, perhaps, organizing and articulating viable alternatives.

On waking, it seems that we are instantly sucked into a cold cash nexus operated by massive corporations, regulated by faceless multinational bureaucrats, and policed by American military might. This network goes under a number of titles including world-wide capitalism, globalisation, and most recently Empire. Countless social critics have gone to great lengths to trace out the many tentacles of this global empire, and detail just how all pervasive it is. Despite the breadth of the debate there seems to be at least a broad agreement that a central part of this empire is the process through which the 'market' and 'management' are applied to nearly every sector of social life. Nearly any problem that social life produces (increases in poverty, mounting alienation, obese children) is deemed to be something that can be solved through more market and more management. Because this idea is so prevalent we might call it one of the dominant forms of hegemony in our time. Given the apparently all-encompassing nature of market managerialism as a form of hegemony, are we simply to wave a resentful fist at it? Are we to embrace it with a cynical smirk? Or, is another configuration of organization possible?

If we cast an eye across social life, we can see that resistance to market managerialism is, in fact, not particularly futile. There are many practices that pensions and punks, immigrants and corporate insiders are engaged in that challenge the continued dominance of market managerialism in their own lives. These include street protests, traditional political mobilization, consciousness raising, whistle blowing, and organizing alternative economies. Perhaps one of the most interesting ways of contesting market managerialism has been cultural means, and in particular the visual culture. This has included culture jamming, the use of art as a form of political protest, deliberate reflection on the economy in recent contemporary art, the development of artist run spaces, and anti-war art to name just a few manifestations. Surveying the worlds of contemporary art we are struck by the thousands of reactions to market managerialism. At the heart of many of these refusals is not just an attempt to question some aspect of contemporary capitalism, but also an attempt to develop alternatives.

In recognizing resistance to current market managerialism we are also reminded that there is a rich and deep history within art practice that has continually called capitalism into question and posed alternatives. This has included the arts and crafts movement, socialist and labour art, Dada and other avant-garde movements in the 1920s and 1930s, responses to 'the organizational society' during the 1950s and the 'consumer society' of the 1960s, art produced by colonized peoples, and the many and varied artistic responses to the effects of neo-liberalism all over the world. Perhaps by recalling the histories of these artistic struggles, we may be able to contribute to contemporary struggles against market managerialism.

In order to explore this territory, we would like to include contributions exploring artistic practices of resistance to and subversion of 'market managerialism' (broadly put). Contributors may want to explore, for example:

- The influence of market managerialism on cultural institutions, and ways in which cultural workers work within and resist the rising tide of neo-liberalism.
- Artistic re-actions to the introduction of mechanized cultural production and attempts to create alternatives.
- The cultural labour process and various forms of resistances within this labour process.
- Attempts to critique and build alternatives to consumerism through artistic means.
- The art of the labour movement and its role in organizing solidarity.
- The development of political artistic communities.
- The role of art in organizing resistance movements.
- Artistic imaginations of alternative social organizations.

Although this stream in interested in exploring the role of art in subverting and resisting the hegemony of market managerialism, it does not aim to be simply negative. Ultimately we seek to include contributions that not only expose, critique and resist dominant management discourses in society but indeed attempt to explore alternative organizational futures. That is, this stream aims to be affirmative rather than simply negative or even nihilistic. In our view, art plays an important part in imagining a different world, and in this stream we hope to be able to stage and give voice to some of these images of what could, perhaps, be radical different views of social organization.

We are particularly interested in historical, empirical, theoretical, or cultural forms of artistic engagement with how 'market managerialism' is resisted and how organizational alternatives are imagined. We seek to put together a truly transdisciplinary group of artists, professionals, academics and students to present contributions that can range from academic papers to paintings and from sound installations to multimedia presentations. With this stream we are particularly keen to explore the political possibilities of art, which includes an engagement with the pressing political issues of today's world and its socio-economic-cultural 'goings-on'. In our view, art needs to be politicized in order to effectively resist and subvert these 'goings-on' and explore alternative futures. We hope that our stream will contribute to such a project. All this is to say that we imagine this stream to not simply be another academic conference but indeed an event: an artistic space that presents a multitude of political, subversive engagements with the hegemony of market managerialism, a space that might create images of alternative organizational futures.

Enquires should be directed to:
André Spicer
Industrial Relations and Organizational Behaviour,
Warwick Business School,
University of Warwick,
CV4 7AL,
United Kingdom.