Utopian Thinking & Practical Leadership Alternatives
In the previous 4 weeks, you have been focusing on examining and challenging the conventional wisdom. You began with the necessary critical tools of stakeholder analysis and critical management studies, and then looked at one grand summation of the current state of affairs and one vision of a positive societal future. Now, you will study examples of how several alternatives to the conventional wisdom have been conceptualized and successfully applied.
As Wright (2010) explains, “…this investigation will be empirical, examining cases of institutional innovations that embody in one way or another emancipatory alternatives to the dominant forms of social organization” (p. 1). Wright provides examples that challenge the conventional wisdom, demonstrating that it is often buttressed by the myth that what exists has been proven through experience to be the best of alternatives. As you have discovered in this seminar so far, however, what exists in one place and time is just one of many possibilities. In the final 2 weeks of your seminar, you will focus on taking a deeper look at alternatives that challenge individuals to reconsider ideas of what can and cannot work.
Consider the participatory city budgeting process in Porto Alegre, Brazil; the Mondragon worker-owned cooperative in Spain; the Quebec Social Economy (particularly as it relates to childcare); and Wikipedia. These examples all illustrate how systems that consider people ends in themselves?not instruments for the creation of the wealth of others?can work. Whether or not these particular examples can apply to the organizations in which you work is less important than the fact that each, in its own way, was called impractical, impossible or both. As you conclude your seminar, consider what the Resources state regarding challenges to the fundamental belief system of neo-capitalism. Consider how challenging these beliefs can serve as the basis for new possibilities that will meet personal, organizational, and societal needs of individuals in the future.
By the end of this week, you will be able to:
• Compare societal alternatives to the dominant organizational paradigm
• Assess the impact of societal alternatives on stakeholders
• Select components of societal alternatives that could be readily adopted in mainstream organizations
• Describe new leadership behaviors to accommodate alternative societal models
Application 2 – Critical Appraisal
As part of your doctoral seminar for this set of weeks, you are participating in a seminar-style discussion about the weekly topics. Complete an APA compliant, 7-10 page critical appraisal of Wright and use at least two other resources from the university’s database in your appraisal. Be sure to address the following as a minimum:
• Discuss the scope of the resource resource – what were the main arguments and propositions.
• Discuss the purpose and philosophical approach
• Discuss the underlying assumptions and implications
• If referring to a research article, present the methodology, where relevant, and discuss any practical issues or reasons to question the author’s perspective
• Relate the resource to the body of resources you have consulted in this course
• Discuss any evident limitations and opportunities for further inquiry
Submit your assignment by Day 4 of Week 6.
• Wright, E. O. (2010). Envisioning real utopias. London, England: Verso.
This book explores social theory and provides alternatives to the current capitalist structure of the world today.
• Abrams, J. (2008). Companies we keep: Employee ownership and the business of community and place. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.
• Hawken, P. (2007). Blessed unrest: How the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice, and beauty to the world. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
• Semler, R. (1993). Maverick: The success story behind the world’s most unusual workplace. New York, NY: Warner Books.
• Spanno, C. (Ed.). (2008). Real utopia: Participatory society for the 21st century. Oakland, CA: AK Press.
• Banai, M., Nirenberg, J., & Menachem, M. (2000). Leadership in self-managing organizations: Orpheus and a date plantation. Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(3), 3–17. Retrieved from SAGE Journals Online.
• Semler, R. (1989). Managing without managers: How one unorthodox company makes money by avoiding decisions, rules, and executive authority. Harvard Business Review, 67(5), 76–84. Retrieved from Business Source Complete.
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