Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Re-covering the Meaning of ‘Small and Local’ in Organisation: Barefoot Organisations

Deadline for submissions of abstracts (400 words) is 15th July 2012.   

For more info visit www.apros.org

APROS 2013, 15th - 17th February 2013
Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo

Stream A:                            Re-covering the Meaning of ‘Small and Local’ in
                                               Organisation: Barefoot Organisations

Dr. J. Miguel Imas,                        Kingston University, UK
Professor Deborah Blackman,    University of Canberra, Australia
Dr. Deirdre Tedmanson,              University of South Australia, Australia
Professor Katarzyna Kosmala,   University of the West of Scotland, UK


“Weather was always here: winds attacking
From every direction: above, below,
east, south, west, north. Until the palms
were gone, leaving only their memory.
No more canoes. Twisted paper mulberry
offering only beaten cloth
and mirror-image carvings….”
(Margaret Randall, Their Backs to the Sea, 2009: 5)

Globalisation, since the collapse of the Soviet empire, has promoted new market opportunities for business trade around the world. Countries as far as Chile, Peru and Mexico in the pacific realm of South America as well as, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore in Asia benefited from this economic expansion. The rapid stimulus to job creation and development brought quick wealth, along with aggressive neo-liberal economic policies and the organisational and managerial practices which support such policies.  A managerialist (postcolonial) discourse embedded within western ideological traditions of market liberalisation and exploitation of local natural and human resources took hold then in many localities across the Asia-Pacific region.

The expansion of businesses, at the outset, allowed for rapid organisational successes and economic growth. For instance, GDP in most of the Asian-Pacific countries which opened their doors to globalization increased, through the receipt of this investment from abroad. The successes gave the impression of rapid and sustainable development for businesses within these countries and led to some being metaphorically called the ‘tigers’ of Asia or the ‘pumas’ of South America. Furthermore, these countries were selected as case examples of a triumphalist discourse of management, which assumed rapid economic development was the result of the application of efficient organisational practices articulated within rationalist western neo-liberal ideas about how to modernise. It was a convincing and powerful narrative that resonated throughout the pacific region and along some Asian shores.

However, this fairy tale collapsed in the late 1990s when most of these countries entered major economic crises similar to the one experienced now in Europe and the United States. Indeed, the expansion was, as it is now known, mostly as a result of government borrowing which left countries (and their citizens) impoverished and with huge debts (not to mention the destruction of local land and communities). Local and small organisations in some communities, suffered enormously and a long period of contracted recession took hold – while western nations (e.g. Europe and the US) continued to grow as a result of borrowing money.

Little was learnt from these experiences, as the new (global) crisis has shown. The sense of superiority and arrogance of an economic system that supports managerialist practices geared to benefit a privileged few rather than entire communities was, – as it is now experienced in the western world – gradually exposed. Debts, displacement, pollution, bankruptcies, poverty, increasing inequality -  these are just some of the legacies of a grand discourse that promoted exploitative management and organisation practices incapable of fostering sustainable futures for  communities.

As a consequence, we are now at a junction in considering how to approach the study, practice and creation of new organisations. We consider that an intimate look at ‘local’ community small organisations may provide new guidance, discourses and narratives upon which to construct, or re-cover, the meaning of ‘organisation’; – an understanding of ‘organisation’ that is supportive of the environmental, social and economic well-being of communities at the local level; an understanding of an ‘organisation’ that promotes equity, participation, innovation and local-to-local integration.

This stream invites papers, posters, art interventions, visual anthropologies and other forms of ‘ground-up’ narration that re-connect us back to organisation at the local level; the small community, the island, the fishermen and women and their way of life etc., as a counter response to the global grand narrative of globalisation that has brought such destruction to communities. The following topics we found of interest:

  1. Indigenous organisation narratives
  2. Precarious spaces where organising adopts a different meaning
  3. Critique of mainstream management/organisation ideologies
  4. Discourse and practices which promote sustainable environments and community development. New methodologies that permit us to explore small local organisations in depth
  5. Practices that are beneficial for community and, therefore, humanity
  6. Theories and philosophies of economic organisation which reflect alternatives to the status quo.
  7. Social enterprise; micro-enterprise; co-operative and communal organisations
  8.  Creative forms of local resistance organisation

We welcome other creative and innovative initiatives that address these concerns, inviting you to submit your work to our stream.


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