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Lessons from creating a business school for public good: obliquity, waysetting and wayfinding in substantively rational change

Kitchener, Martin and Delbridge, Rick 2020. Lessons from creating a business school for public good: obliquity, waysetting and wayfinding in substantively rational change. Academy of Management Learning and Education 10.5465/amle.2019.0195
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Abstract

This paper applies Weber’s distinction between instrumental (outcome focused) and substantive (values driven) rationality to offer both a conceptually-underpinned explanation for the mounting criticism of business schools, and to provide the basis for a new business school model. We begin by extending Brewer’s (2013) treatise on the public good of social science to articulate a substantively rational Public Value Business School. We then report how processes of waysetting, wayfinding and strategic obliquity informed the iterative development of this approach at Cardiff Business School in the UK. Our case study illustrates the significant challenges and tensions that arise from trying to introduce a substantively-rational approach and change process within an institutional context of instrumental rationality. Our analysis underscores the importance of combining both purposive action (away from the current) and substantively rational purposeful action (a direction of travel informed by particular values). It also highlights the potential for some business schools to combine substantive rationality with strategic obliquity in attempts to enhance public good through systemic, institutional change.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Academy of Management
ISSN: 1537-260X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 19 June 2020
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2020 12:23
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/132737

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