Addressing Socioeconomic Inequalities through Management Education and Learning

For this special issue, we invite submissions to all of AMLE’s peer reviewed sections, including research and reviews, essays, and book and& resource reviews. We particularly welcome research studies based on extensive data—qualitative or quantitative—using any well-executed and rigorous methodology.

Academy of Management Learning & Education Special Issue

Guest Editors:

  • Arun Kumar, University of Essex, UK
  • Hari Bapuji, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Vivek Soundararajan, University of Bath, UK
  • Tine Köhler, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Rafael Alcadipani, Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil
  • Mette Morsing, PRME, UN Global Compact
  • Diego M. Coraiola, University of Victoria, Canada

Deadline for Submissions: 31st December 2022

Scheduled for Publication: September 2024


Call for Papers

Although belated, management research is paying increasing attention to socioeconomic inequalities (Amis, Mair, & Munir, 2020; Bapuji, Ertug, & Shaw, 2020a; Rygh, 2019). Among others, this research has outlined the role of various management practices that have afforded differential employment and advancement opportunities to individuals of different demographic groups, thus reproducing societal inequalities within organizations (Amis et al., 2020). Further, this research has discussed the role of organizations—as distributors of value—in causing further inequalities by skewing the value distribution favoring shareholders and their agents (Bapuji et al., 2020a; Nachum, 2021). Additionally, it has also shed light on the role of decision-makers (who predominantly tend to come from privileged backgrounds) in normalizing and reinforcing societal inequalities within organizations (Bapuji, Patel, Ertug & Allen, 2020b).

Despite the vibrant research on the role of management, organizations, and decision-makers in socioeconomic inequalities, concerted scrutiny of the links between management education and re/production of socioeconomic inequalities within and outside organizations has been missing from extant scholarship (see Fotaki & Prasad, 2015 for similar acknowledgement). For example, a search for ‘inequality’ or ‘inequalities’ in the abstracts of AMLE resulted in four articles, while a similar search in Management Learning resulted in six articles. This scant research attention from the field of management education and learning contrasts with growing calls for the wider management scholarship to address inequalities and other grand challenges and strive for broader social impact (see George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi, & Tihanyi, 2016, for example).

This silence is all the more telling at a time when socioeconomic inequalities are widening (Piketty, 2020). The UN’s World Social Report (2020), for example, notes that socioeconomic inequality has increased across the world, affecting nearly 70 per cent of the global population, including those in the most developed countries and some fastest developing countries like India and China. The wealth owned by the richest 1 per cent is more than twice as much as that owned by 60 percent of the population, with nearly 735 million people living under extreme poverty (Oxfam, 2021). The adverse impact of the socioeconomic disparity is reflected in various aspects of individual lives, including education, health, and employment, and historically oppressed the most affected such as women of color, displaced persons and other minorities. And the negative consequences of inequality have only worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic (Bapuji et al., 2020b). 

Beyond the negative impact on the poor and marginalized, inequality also has deleterious societal consequences. The most observable, in recent times, is its impact on democratic institutions. The increasing disparity has resulted in political polarization and a rise in populism, further aggravating and dividing societies. Inequality also slows economic growth, destabilizes development, and increases societal vulnerability to shocks (e.g., Brueckner & Lederman, 2018). As a result, there has been an increase in a backlash against globalization, inciting nationalist policy responses such as reshoring (Krenz, Prettner, & Strulik, 2021). It has also been shown to create hotspots for exploitation as the poorer are more vulnerable and thus ends up in dangerous and exploitative work (Crane, LeBaron, Phung, Behbahani, & Allain, 2021). 

The limited attention on inequalities in management education and learning is particularly significant as higher education is often considered a crucial site of social mobility and integral to alleviating inequalities, globally. In what has since come to be known as the “rhetoric of rising”, the idea that those who had hitherto been at the receiving end of inequalities could move ahead in life, depending on their talent, ability and hard work gained ground (Sandel, 2020). Among others, the meteoric rise of business schools in post-World War 2 USA has been attributed to this expansion of state-funded higher education, which was premised on the idea that societal well-being required large numbers of university graduates (Khurana, 2007). 

However, several recent studies have debunked the myth of merit-based social mobility as the solution to inequalities. In fact, more than countering, educational institutions are increasingly being recognized as sites of transmittal of pre-existing and creation of new inequalities. Khan (2010), for example, outlines how elite institutions train its students to embody their privileges. That is, entitlements arising due to class and cultural capital, and racial identities are mobilized and enacted in educational settings. Relatedly, Subramanian (2019) has outlined how the modern myth of merit within engineering institutions works to make caste-based inequalities invisible (also see Vijay & Nair, 2021 for a similar discussion in the context of an Indian business school).  

Building on which, extant scholarship (albeit limited) from the field of management education and learning has been insightful in terms of scrutinizing business schools as sites of reproduction of inequalities and enactment of privileges (Zulfiqar & Prasad, 2021). Its extensive use and reliance on economic orthodoxy further sediments the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism – and exacerbation of economic inequalities (Fotaki & Prasad, 2015). Similarly, marking the curious absence of race in organization studies, Nkomo (1992) problematizes the tendency to present racial stratification as if both permanent and inevitable; thus, leaving them wholly intact and mostly unchallenged in the production of management knowledge. Recognizing racial and other asymmetries common to most global contexts in which management knowledge is produced and consumed, Girei (2017) calls for reflexivity and greater contextuality in management learning.

The growing pressure on business schools and management education to address inequalities between the rich and the poor (Khurana, 2007) has culminated in calls for activism within business schools and reimagining them as questioning spaces (Contu, 2020; Dar, Liu, Dy & Brewis, 2021). Such scholarly calls for examining the role of management education and learning (and business schools, in particular) have become all the more critical in the context of decolonizing and Black Lives Matter movements, which have presented a thoroughgoing critique of racialized capitalism in the Global North and its hegemony. 

Contributions to this special issue should provide new theoretical understandings, reached through examination of the role of management education and learning in recognizing, resisting, and ultimately alleviating socioeconomic inequalities around the world. Due to the broad nature of the topic, relevant insights from other disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, ethics and many others) that can be connected with the theme and the core interests of the journal may be appropriate, in addition to more conventional approaches. Possible areas of research focus are suggested below, but these should be seen as examples rather than a prescriptive list. 

Illustrative themes / research questions

Role of Management Learning and Education in Socioeconomic Inequalities

  • How are socioeconomic inequalities depicted in management learning and education? How do such depictions influence management knowledge and practice; and what is their role in addressing inequalities?
  • How and why do management education and learning contribute to maintaining and escalating or resisting and reducing socioeconomic inequalities?
  • How can management education become more inclusive using critical approaches or processes such as decolonization and other hitherto unexplored ways? 
  • How and when can structural inequalities be addressed through management learning and education?
  • Has management education and learning better translated insights from/into certain fields of management research (strategy, HRM, diversity, etc.) or around certain inequalities (such as gender, disability, and sexuality compared to others, such as caste, race, or indigeneity)? And why? 

B-schools as Sites of Creation and Maintenance of Socioeconomic Inequalities

  • How do business schools create new and maintain pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities? How and which inequalities are reproduced during teaching and in classrooms? How can such inequalities be addressed?
  • How do inequalities impact faculty, staff and students in business schools; and what can they do to mitigate such impact?
  • How do students, staff, and faculty navigate campus inequalities? What lessons can be drawn from this for wider research on organizations and inequalities?
  • How can business schools develop policies, initiatives, and tools to avoid/resist reproducing and reinforcing socioeconomic inequalities? 
  • How do external stakeholders (such as governments, thinktanks and non-profits, professional associations, accreditation bodies, journals’ editorial committees, etc.) create/maintain/increase (or resist/question/reduce) inequalities in business schools?

Pedagogical Approaches and Tools to Address Socioeconomic Inequalities

  • What insights can be drawn from management research on inequalities (e.g., gender, class, caste, and race) for the field of management education and learning?
  • How we can use pedagogical tools and approaches (e.g., reflexivity, simulations, critical discussion, experiential learning) to teach about socioeconomic inequalities?  
  • How can new theoretical and philosophical approaches help management scholars address inequalities through learning and education?
  • How can quality management education be made accessible to students from marginalised and impoverished communities, given the high costs and student indebtedness?
  • How can technology be used to make management education accessible to broader society, without creating further inequalities around access, affordability, and in curricula and pedagogy?
  • How can pedagogical approaches and insights related to one type of inequalities (e.g., gender) be used to inform learning and education related to other types of inequalities (e.g., race, class, caste, and indigeneity)?

Submission types

For this special issue, we invite submissions to all of AMLE’s peer reviewed sections, including research and reviews, essays, and book and& resource reviews. We particularly welcome research studies based on extensive data—qualitative or quantitative—using any well-executed and rigorous methodology. Submissions will be subject to normal editorial decision-making and peer review processes.

Inquiries 

If you would like advice about a possible submission before submitting, please feel free to contact Arun Kumar and/or Hari Bapuji. In particular, we encourage prospective authors who are interested in submitting essays as well as book and resource reviews to consult with us about their topic of interest before starting the work on their manuscript.

Please note that this consultation is neither a precondition nor a requirement for submission. Authors who have not consulted with the guest editor team are equally welcome to make their submissions. 

General guidance for all submitting authors.

Submission details

Submit your special issue manuscripts between 1st December 2022 and 31st December 2022 through AMLE’s manuscript central system.

The guest editor team will hold two online idea/paper development workshops in early 2022 and plans to hold further paper development workshops at international conferences throughout 2022. We encourage prospective authors to participate in those and receive feedback on their ideas or proposals. Further details will be made available closer to the dates on the AMLE website and will be distributed through prominent social media channels (e.g., AOM’s email listservs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others).

References

Amis J. M., Mair, J., & Munir, K. A. 2020. The organizational reproduction of inequality. Academy of Management Annals, 14: 195-230.

Bapuji, H., Ertug, G., & Shaw, J. D. 2020a. Organizations and societal economic inequality: A review and way forward. Academy of Management Annals, 14: 60-91.

Bapuji, H., Patel, C., Ertug, C., and Allen, D. 2020b. Corona crisis and inequality: Why management research needs a societal turn. Journal of Management, 46:1205-22.

Brueckner, M., & Lederman, D. 2018. Inequality and economic growth: the role of initial income. Journal of Economic Growth, 23: 341-366.

Contu, A. 2020. Answering the crisis with intellectual activism: Making a difference as business schools scholars. Human Relations, 73: 737–757.

Crane, A., LeBaron, G., Phung, K., Behbahani, L., & Allain, J. 2021. Confronting the business models of modern slavery. Journal of Management Inquiry, 1056492621994904.

Dar, S., Liu, H., Martinez Dy, A., & Brewis, D. N. 2021. The business school is racist: Act up! Organization, 28: 695–706.

Fotaki, M. & Prasad, A. 2015. Questioning neoliberal capitalism and economic inequality in business schools. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14: 556-575.

Girei, E. 2017. Decolonising management knowledge: A reflexive journey as practitioner and researcher in Uganda. Management Learning, 48: 453-470. 

George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. 2016. Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research. Academy of Management Journal, 59: 1880-1895.

Hardiman, R., Jackson, B., & Griffin, P. 2007. Conceptual foundations for social justice education.

Khan, S. R. 2010. Privilege: The making of an adolescent elite at St. Paul’s School. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Khurana, R. 2007. From higher aims to hired hands. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Krenz, A., Prettner, K., & Strulik, H. 2021. Robots, reshoring, and the lot of low-skilled workers. European Economic Review, 136: 103744.

Nachum, L. 2021. Value distribution and markets for social justice in global value chains: Interdependence relationships and government policy. Journal of International Business Policy, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1057/s42214-021-00105-w.  

Nkomo, S. M. 1992. The emperor has no clothes: Rewriting “race in organizations”. Academy of Management Review, 17: 487-513.

Oxfam 2021. 5 shocking facts about extreme global inequality and how to even it up. https://www.oxfam.org/en/5-shocking-facts-about-extreme-global-inequality-and-how-even-it. Accessed: 28th July 2021. 

Piketty, T. 2020. Capital and ideology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rygh, A. 2019. Multinational enterprises and economic inequality: A review and international business research agenda. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 17: 71-101.

Sandel, M. J. 2020. The tyranny of merit: What’s become of the Common Good. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

Subramanian, A. 2019. The caste of merit: Engineering education in India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vijay, D., & Nair, V. G. 2021. In the name of merit: Ethical violence and inequality at a business school. Journal of Business Ethics, published online first: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-021-04824-1

Zulfiqar, G., & Prasad, A. 2021. Challenging social inequality in the Global South: Class, privilege, and consciousness-raising through critical management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 20: 156-181.