The Emergence of Disciplines

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, January 11, 2010 Under: Architectonics

In my last post I put forward some thoughts about how disciplines are defined.  An article in the current issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement contributes to the debate when it offers a critique of aspects of business studies and business schools.  This is not an attack on the importance of studying business but rather a questioning of the way this discipline is organised, managed, taught and distinguished from other fields.  A change is traced in the history of business studies.  Arguments that fundamentally challenge the business world have been increasingly frozen out of the discipline.  They have been excluded by the way in which the discipline has defined itself over time.  Assumptions are made about the value of business, about its necessary role in society and about the importance of environmentalism:

Fifteen years ago, business studies would have been exposed to such [challenging] arguments as the business schools staff would be drawn from many disciplines, Professor Hanlon explained: “Now business is generating its own professorate, which is much narrower in terms of its focus and academic mission.  (THES, 7-13 January, 2010, p. 17)

This puts questions about the definition, nature and organisation of disciplines at the heart of this debate.  Specialisation leads a discipline to cling to its own terminology and theoretical models.  The claim reported in THES is that business studies has become a discipline defined not just by its subject matter but by an ideology that masquerades as being a matter of fact.  The assumption is made that industrialisation is good for society and that economic growth is intrinsically good.  This forms part of the very definition of this discipline, it forms part of the basis upon which it proceeds to teach and research. 

These are of course major claims about business schools and I am no expert on this discipline.  However, they highlight what is at stake in architectonics as the study of the relations between the disciplines.  A further claim is that teaching is dogmatic in its attachment to certain textbooks, providing theories that are taken for granted and seen an unproblematic basis for the management of people.  These ‘textbook management techniques’ (ibid) are understood as being out of touch with the realities of the business world, too abstract to cope with the concrete problems that business people encounter.  I would argue that this is a danger that arises when training for a profession develops into a discipline.  The danger is that certain theories become isolated from the universal methods through which they arose.  Thus, psychology was drawn upon by business studies and by teacher training as these training courses sought to build a theoretical basis for their activities.  They became disciplines by fortifying their domains with theoretical models, with profiles of consumers or of learners.  This led to them becoming inflexible and inward looking as they proceeded to deal with reality on the basis of certain assumptions and theories.  Being the axioms or starting points for an entire discipline these cannot be challenged without undermining its activity.       

In : Architectonics 



null

The Emergence of Disciplines

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, January 11, 2010 Under: Architectonics

In my last post I put forward some thoughts about how disciplines are defined.  An article in the current issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement contributes to the debate when it offers a critique of aspects of business studies and business schools.  This is not an attack on the importance of studying business but rather a questioning of the way this discipline is organised, managed, taught and distinguished from other fields.  A change is traced in the history of business studies.  Arguments that fundamentally challenge the business world have been increasingly frozen out of the discipline.  They have been excluded by the way in which the discipline has defined itself over time.  Assumptions are made about the value of business, about its necessary role in society and about the importance of environmentalism:

Fifteen years ago, business studies would have been exposed to such [challenging] arguments as the business schools staff would be drawn from many disciplines, Professor Hanlon explained: “Now business is generating its own professorate, which is much narrower in terms of its focus and academic mission.  (THES, 7-13 January, 2010, p. 17)

This puts questions about the definition, nature and organisation of disciplines at the heart of this debate.  Specialisation leads a discipline to cling to its own terminology and theoretical models.  The claim reported in THES is that business studies has become a discipline defined not just by its subject matter but by an ideology that masquerades as being a matter of fact.  The assumption is made that industrialisation is good for society and that economic growth is intrinsically good.  This forms part of the very definition of this discipline, it forms part of the basis upon which it proceeds to teach and research. 

These are of course major claims about business schools and I am no expert on this discipline.  However, they highlight what is at stake in architectonics as the study of the relations between the disciplines.  A further claim is that teaching is dogmatic in its attachment to certain textbooks, providing theories that are taken for granted and seen an unproblematic basis for the management of people.  These ‘textbook management techniques’ (ibid) are understood as being out of touch with the realities of the business world, too abstract to cope with the concrete problems that business people encounter.  I would argue that this is a danger that arises when training for a profession develops into a discipline.  The danger is that certain theories become isolated from the universal methods through which they arose.  Thus, psychology was drawn upon by business studies and by teacher training as these training courses sought to build a theoretical basis for their activities.  They became disciplines by fortifying their domains with theoretical models, with profiles of consumers or of learners.  This led to them becoming inflexible and inward looking as they proceeded to deal with reality on the basis of certain assumptions and theories.  Being the axioms or starting points for an entire discipline these cannot be challenged without undermining its activity.       

In : Architectonics 



null

 

 
Make a Free Website with Yola.