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Tag: Performativity

Relevant academia in a post-truth world?

TSElosophers meeting 5.5.2023. Albrecht Becker, Kari Lukka, Mia Salo, Otto Rosendahl, Veli Virmajoki

Aaltola, E. (2022, 04.08.2022). The limits of science – what can we study?  https://blogit.utu.fi/utu/2022/04/08/tieteen-rajat-mita-saamme-tutkia/ (translated by Kari Lukka)

Meyer, R. E., & Quattrone, P. (2021). Living in a post-truth world? Research, doubt and organization Studies. Organization Studies, 42(9), 1373-1383

Tweedie, J. (2022). Against mystifying complexity: On asking simple, burning questions. Organization Studies, 43(11), 1853-1856.


These three texts of very different types share a common theme: the challenge and legitimacy crisis social sciences face in the light of the growing force of ‘post-truth’ and the contribution of the science-internal critique of the postulate of value-free science to creating an ‘anything-goes’ public discourse.

  • Aaltola in her blog post argues that this criticism of the idea of value-freedom of science has led to the argument that, given that all knowledge is tainted by value, all knowledge claims are equal to scientific ones, and in the end, it has led to a situation where right-wing actors try to censor research on topics they consider as not in line with their own values. The burning issue, thus, is how we can restore the role and integrity of free science.
  • Meyer and Quattrone, in their first editorial as new editors of Organization Studies, start from the same concern as Aaltola, also emphasising how researchers themselves have unintendedly become “accomplices” in nurturing the concept of ‘post-truth’. The challenge, according to them, is how to restore acknowledgement “of the value of our work” in a situation where truth “is a constant struggle to interrogate [the] ephemeral nature of knowledge”, but where the public discourse is more and more structured around binaries, such as true/false, us/them, etc.
  • Tweedie takes up Meyer and Quattrone’s idea of academics’ complicity and notes the irony of them striving for impact when their major impact is undermining their own legitimacy. He locates the major source of this complicity in the “complexity arms race” where academics value complexity per se over simplicity, thus reinforcing the ivory tower of incomprehensibility. Instead, he pleads for “elegant simplicity” in research and suggests that research questions should be stated “in the simplest terms we can” and that they should concern the “’burning questions’ of our times”, such as climate change etc.

Our discussion

We first noted that the texts are very different of type, one is a blog post, thus formulated in a bit more everyday language style (Aalto), the second a programmatic editorial (Meyer & Quattrone), and the third an essay (Tweedie). While this may account for the fact that the texts present their arguments in a too straightforward way, it at the same time made them specifically thought-provoking. Probably unsurprising, TSElosophers shared the general concerns raised in these texts regarding the current tendencies inclined to delegitimise the value of research and science.

One strand of our discussion concerned the stated ‘complicity’ of researchers stated in different ways in the three texts. Many of us agreed and saw not least recent discussions on sensitive – or, more pointedly: ‘politically correct’ – use of language as an important driver of the chance for allegations of value-bias and partisanship of social sciences. At least one of us argued, however, that ‘science scepticism’ is much older than these recent discussions and even the critique of value-free science and that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rather the traditional idea of self-correction through falsification which fed post-truth and the discourse on the equality of scientific and non-scientific knowledge claims. It seemed clear to us, however, that there is a paradox: On the one hand, authors claim that their critique of the assumption of value-free research has had a public impact and, on the other hand, their complaint that social science research is not adequately heard in public.

We further discussed what distinguishes scientific knowledge from other types of knowledge to make a convincing claim for legitimacy or even superiority in certain situations. One suggestion from TSElosophers, taking up Aalto’s argument, was that scientific knowledge is in a specific way methods-based and systematic. Others, however, countered this by arguing that these aspects are necessary conditions, but not sufficient since it is not obvious which methods should be designated as legitimate. For example, even astrology can also be perceived as rigorous and methods-based.

Other suggestions for solutions from the texts could also not completely convince us. Meyer and Quattrone, for example, go a long way to analyse the issues coming with a social science that accepts that there is no ultimate truth in the era of post-truth. However, their proposed programme for Organisation Studies seems a very standard programme of a social sciences journal and it remains unclear how their analysis is addressed. Tweedie’s suggestion to distinguish ‘crude’ from ‘elegant simplicity’ and ‘mystifying’ from ‘enlightening complexity’, and more profoundly distinguishing simplicity from complexity, seems plausible at first glance but may turn out to be less clear-cut than suggested.

In conclusion, the three texts triggered intensive discussion among the TSElosophers on themes that are of vital importance for all researchers, especially in humanities and social studies. Indicative of the great interest in the themes at stake was that our discussion showed no real saturation, but we only needed to end it due to time limitations.

Woodward on ”causation with a human face”: Inspirations and research voids

TSElosophers meeting 28.3.2023. Albrecht Becker, Erkki Lassila, Kari Lukka, Mia Salo, Milla Unkila, Otto Rosendahl, Veli Virmajoki

Woodward, J. (2002) What is a mechanism? A counterfactual account. Philosophy of science, 69(3), p.366-377 & Woodward, J. (2021) Causation with a human face: Normative theory and descriptive psychology, Oxford University Press, p.1-14 (Introduction).


In Woodward’s approach, the philosophy of causation should clarify notions that are confused, unclear, and ambiguous and suggest how these limitations might be addressed. In particular, Woodward defends the interventionist account of causal explanation, where causality holds between two variables if an intervention (ideal experimental manipulation) on one of the variables would change the other variable. Woodward uses the interventionist account to discuss issues such as mechanistic explanation and modularity, especially in the context of systems.

Our discussion

TSElosophers generally found these texts interesting, yet rather demanding reads. We found it useful to get an idea of the “interventionist take on causality”, emblematic of Woodward, and how he wished to avoid drowning in the metaphysical debates on what the notions of causality should stand for and instead focus on how to decipher causality in practice.

Regarding the book Chapter, just based on the Introduction of the book, we did not get a quite clear idea of how precisely the “descriptive accounts” of causality – the beliefs that people have on causal relationships – bear relevance regarding what is, for Woodward, the more essential thing, the “normative account”. The latter refers to those causal claims which can be sustained by the interventionist approach, leaning on counterfactual analysis. However, the biggest concern among a few TSElosophers is whether, and if so, the potential performativity related to any utterings of humans, be they researchers or lay persons, might play a role in the system of thinking of Woodward. It seemed as if he had not taken that into consideration at all. Given that for Woodward, in line with his “minimal realism”, the central test of causal claims is how the world works, omitting performativity actually seems like a very notable issue – since it could bring an endogenous challenge to the analysis and thereby significantly complicate carrying it out. At least, the problem of performativity might complicate the use of Woodward’s theoretical frame in social sciences.

TSElosophers found the article on mechanisms in causality somewhat easier to grasp, yet perhaps a bit less inspiring. It did not add to the credibility of the text that there seems to be a typo in equation (2) on p.367. At least one of us had a pre-understanding that explaining through mechanisms means primarily ‘fleshing out’ the contents to the ‘explanation’ as compared to making causal claims on mere naked correlations: It opens up more precisely how e.g. the correlations can be seen as part of a meaningful explanation. TSElosophers found the take of Woodward notably stricter and narrower than this general idea. This is, in particular, since his definition requires the independence of the elements (“modules”) of mechanisms. This requirement seemed to us not well suitable for humanities and social sciences. We were left wondering whether Woodward’s take is actually too binary or black and white. Maybe it even leads to an overly idealistic picture of mechanistic explanation in social sciences, thus distancing the practice in the field from philosophical analysis – something Woodward accuses many other accounts of causation of doing.

Reading these texts gave a good lesson for TSElosophers on what kind of reasoning and write-up can be found from the representatives of the current frontiers of the philosophy of causality. It strikes us how there might be notable room for integrating the recent advances in the philosophy of causality with a more genuine take on how humanities and social sciences are surrounded and how they work. This could provide a more apt philosophy of causality for social scientists and humanists!

A glance to various performativities of performativity

TSElosophers meeting 1.2.2021. Elina Järvinen, Erkki Lassila, Kari Lukka, Maija-Riitta Ollila, Morgan Shaw, Otto Rosendahl, Toni Ahlqvist.

Gond, J. P., Cabantous, L., Harding, N., & Learmonth, M. (2016). What do we mean by performativity in organizational and management theory? The uses and abuses of performativity. International Journal of Management Reviews, 18(4), 440-463.


The concept of performativity has been interpreted in many ways after John Austin introduced the idea of ‘performative utterance’ in the beginning of the 1960’s. This paper by Gond, Cabantous, Harding and Learmonth takes up this perhaps quite complex concept and tries to summarize the way how different versions of it have been utilized by scholars in the field of organization and management theory (OMT). There are indeed several different ways as for how the original version has been interpreted. Gond et al. introduce five conceptualizations of performativity in their paper:

  1. doing things with words (Austin);
  2. searching for efficiency (Lyotard);
  3. constituting the self (Butler, Derrida);
  4. bringing theory into being (Callon, MacKenzie);
  5. sociomateriality mattering (Barad).

These five conceptualizations are linked to four so called ‘turns’ in OMT, which according to Gond et al. can be identified as influencers for the upsurge of performativity studies in OMT. These four turns are the ‘linguistic turn’, the ‘practice turn’, the ‘process turn’ and the ‘material turn’.  Each of these ‘turns’ can then be linked to certain interpretations of performativity. For example, ‘linguistic turn’ may be linked to non-representational view of discourse, whereas ‘practice turn’ relates more to the interest in the actual doing or acting of organizational actors.

After providing these conceptualizations and the possible reasons for their success, Gond et al. make distinction between two dominant ways of using the theoretical concepts of performativity in OMT. The first way is described as ‘one-way process’, where performativity concepts are more or less just ‘borrowed’ from one specific source domain and then used to generate new knowledge in the organizational context. The other way is said to be more sophisticated ‘two-way’ exchange process, for example for theory-building.

The article presents several examples of such OMT studies which have approached performativity from certain angle, which in itself can be quite illuminating for anyone who previously might have had only narrow view on performativity. By presenting these different uses of theories and example studies, Gond et al. try to find a way to provoke a ‘performative turn’ in OMT, which might ultimately “unleash the power” of the concept itself “to generate new and stronger organizational theories”. However, even if this aim might be clear, the article had some deficiencies which might hinder its own performative aims.

Our discussion

Perhaps not so surprisingly, the concept of performativity was familiar to all TSElosophers who joined the discussion. However, the perspective towards performativity varied between TSElosophers depending on their background and their earlier readings related to these different concepts of performativity. All participants were familiar with the Austinian performativity as to how to do things with words and the famous example of “I pronounce you husband and wife”. If Austin was a common read to all, it was different with other foundational concepts and authors of performativity. Some were more familiar with the studies from such scholars as Latour, Callon and Mackenzie, while others knew better texts from Barad, Butler and Derrida or even Lyotard. Many had read Barad before (see TSElosophers blog post from last May). Therefore, everyone’s perspective towards performativity was perhaps a bit narrower than the overall collection that was presented in this paper. This was one of the appreciated features of the paper on which TSElosophers agreed on.

Participants also viewed positively the presentation how OMT scholars use performativity in their own domain. This section echoed some similarities with Lukka and Vinnari’s (2014) idea of distinguishing domain and method theory as two different roles which theories can play in a piece of research, even if it used a bit different way of presenting the idea. Gond et al. criticizes the way how OMT scholars had mostly borrowed performativity concepts from other domains without any attempt to adding anything on the concepts themselves. Therefore, the paper seemed to be provocative not only towards OMT scholars to think about using more of these different performativity theories as such, but also to the way how OMT researchers should aim for contributing to those theories which are taken from other domains and thus should try to generate stronger organizational theories.

Lyotard’s performativity as searching for efficiency was considered by TSElosophers as the odd one out of the bunch and ill-fitted in the collection of other selected authors and their critical approach towards performativity. One participant pointed out that the reason for this could be the way how the authors had chosen their literature just by picking up words related to performativity. There was a suggestion among the TSElosophers that the most fruitful way to view Lyotard’s perspective might be by understanding performativity as a form of self-optimization or self-improvement striving towards efficiency through measurement and optimization of the input/output ratio. The demand for efficiency creates circumstances for turning people into “their own tyrannical boss” according to critical management scholars Cederström and Spicer’s (2017) mirth-producing column in the Guardian.

Our discussion also disapproved with the paper’s dismissive stance towards the notion of critical performativity by Alvesson, Spicer and others. Gond et al. seemed to understand their critical performativity as supporting precisely the agenda that Lyotard had put his critical finger on: Making organizations show improved performance. In contrast, TSElosophers felt critical performativity is more broadly about using the performative features of human action for something that is socially desirable – being thereby often critical towards suppressing goals to only efficiency improvements, which effectively would tend to uphold the societal status quo.

As a conclusion, TSElosophers thought Gond et al. (2016) was, despite some misunderstandings, a good read about performativity, because it provided a broad overview on the various conceptualizations of performativity.


Cederström, Carl and Spicer, André (2017). We dedicated a year to self-improvement: here’s what it taught us. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/02/self-improvement-optimization.

Lukka, K. & Vinnari, E. (2014) Domain theory and method theory in management accounting research. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. 27:8, 1308-38. DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-03-2013-1265

Desperately seeking… the boundaries of performativity

TSElosophers meeting on 04.05.2018, Katja Einola, Kari Lukka, Jonathan Mumford, Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, Otto Rosendahl, Milla Wirén

“Economics Language and Assumptions: How Theories Can Become Self-Fulfilling”, Ferraro, Pfeffer, Sutton 2005, AMR

“Social Reality, the Boundaries of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and Economics”, Felin and Foss 2009, Org Science

“How and Why Theories Matter: A Comment on Felin and Foss (2009)”, Ferraro, Pfeffer, Sutton 2009, Org Science

“Performativity of Theory, Arbitrary Conventions, and Possible Worlds: A Reality Check”, Felin and Foss 2009, Org Science

This time the TSElosophers read four articles discussing the issue of performativity of theories from two philosophically different vantages. As such, the quartet of articles provided not only ample insights into the issue itself, but highlighted also the impact and importance of the underpinnings we ground our thinking on, and the lenses through which we view whatever it is we’re thinking about.

To begin with, in their 2005 article, Ferraro, Pfeffer and Sutton (hereafter FPS) addressed the potential embedded in even (by some definition) false theories to shape the external world in ways that make the theories self-fulfilling prophesies; the performativity of the theories. The focus was especially on the impact of economic theories (and their underlying assumptions) on the subsequently emerging behavior of the economic agents because of the society shaping (political) power that economics currently wields. As an example, they discuss how Black-Scholes formula for predicting stock prices that economics developed in the 1970’s, only started working properly after the practitioners started using the Black-Scholes formula as a rule of thumb in their daily trading operations.

Ultimately, FPS identify three mechanisms to make performativity happen: institutional design, norms and language. In essence, they question to what extent people have become the agents described by the economic theories because of the performativity of those theories. And furthermore, to what extent is it the responsibility of us scholars to fashion and frame our theories in a way that promotes a constructive form of practitioner reflectivity – rather than for example simplistically reducing the historically multifaceted (e.g. Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments) concept of self-interest to its dimensions that promote human selfishness to an unruly degree?

The first article by Felin and Foss (hereafter FF) engaged the FPS article in a debate from the perspective of economists: firstly they stated that as the more sociologically oriented organization theorists and economists seldom discuss in the same arena, it is pertinent to raise to the defense of the validity of economics. Secondly, and more poignantly, they pointed out that it is necessary to explore the boundary conditions of when can (and do) the theories become performative, and suggested that only the theories that are more “true” can become such. The main example here was hyperrationality: as one strawman of economic theories posits that humans are self-interest seeking and hyperrational, the reason why the first can be perceived as performative is because it’s possible, whereas becoming hyperrational is impossible – no performativity can change that. Overall, FF insist for a ‘reality check’ for performativity arguments.

In the ensuing retort by FPS, they addressed the weaker arguments of FF through enlisting a plethora of sociological and philosophical performativity discussions, in addition to picking apart the example of incentives introduced by FF: turned out that the application of incentives in the firm in question had actually resulted in less than ideal performance. Subsequently, in the final response of FF, they outright addressed the different philosophical underpinnings of FPS, blaming them for the sin of being on the wrong side of the realist-constructionist debate, and as such undermining the whole validity of science as an endeavor to uncover extant realities.

This final sentiment in the last paper by FF recapitulated the underlying tensions of the discussion aptly: if science is indeed about following the correspondence theory of truth, with the assumption of there being a stable reality with scientific progress approached (the viewpoint of FF), taking into account the ability of the humans to reflect and by reflection change their actions constituting the reality (in contrast with the objects of the natural sciences lacking the ability to reflect and by reflection change) does threaten the assumption of the stability of the underlying (social) reality. On the other hand, focusing only on the agentic powers of the individuals and collectives to construct and shape the social reality (for example by performative theories, as FPS suggest), the correspondence theory of truth is hard to apply, as there simply isn’t a stable reality to which a theory could correspond. The question that FF then ask is, does this mean that anything goes, are there no solid boundaries for our theorizing? To sum, the debate captured a fundamental arguing point is social sciences: are there solid underlying realities that shape and bind the social reality, or are all perceivable social realities just about the phenomenologically flowing chaos we at times structure through language, the actions of the individual agents and collectively emergent social forces and practices?

This series of articles struck a resonating chord in the TSElosophers, as one of the enduring streams of our conversations has been the need to embrace the potential of both realist and constructionist approaches. We see value in understanding the power of social construction and in assessing the potential existence of something somehow definable as “real” – expressed in the call for approaches where moderate constructionism meets moderate realism, heeded with pragmatism in accounting and international relations, and with critical realism in international business and information systems, to name few examples. In regards to the four papers, we deemed it valuable to both acknowledge the performative potential of theories, especially as accompanied with a sense of societal responsibility, and to critically analyze the boundary conditions that define that potential. Why and how do some theories realize that potential of performativity?

However, while both sets of viewpoints and resulting views were eloquently expressed in the papers, we lamented the fact that both approaches were too firmly entrenched in the opposing philosophical trenches – like in the famous ‘Science Wars’ of the 1990s – to actually enable the debate to rise above the battle field in a joint effort of solving the puzzle of performativity. We thought that the four articles highlighted the issue of performativity from several angles, and that without the underlying battle field, the joint effort of these brilliant minds could have resulted in a genuinely relevant understanding of the focal questions about the boundary conditions, potential scope, and mechanisms of performativity. As things now stood, the need of the authors to stand their respective philosophical grounds dominated with the result of select insightful seeds meticulously sown but not cultivated to bear fruit.

Maybe we in TSElosophers should nurture these seedlings further…?

Criticizing the criticizing of criticizing

TSElosophers meeting 7.2.2017
Milla Wirén, Kari Lukka, Katja Einola, Jonathan Mumford

Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies,
André Spicer, Mats Alvesson and Dan Kärreman
Human relations, 2009

Quick summary:

Our discussion focused on the aforementioned paper, which criticizes critical management studies for being negative without offering alternatives – and which follows its own advice in providing not only critique of status quo of CMS but also five practical ways of developing more constructive research with an aim to have actualizing effects on management, organizations or even the society. We generally liked the paper: it is very well written up and produces a clear and helpful argument – which is yet not without any issues.

We identified four key issues in our discussion:

  • the concept of performativity is interpreted in two different ways in the article without at any point thoroughly discussing the concept (e.g. the Merton reference is lacking).
  • the epistemological dimension is somewhat lacking, which makes the article leaning a bit towards a consulting piece rather than being article that builds on, mobilises or advances any epistemological resources.
  • it can be debated whether CMS actually has an impact already as the nay-sayer, as maybe the world requires both the deconstructive forces of criticism and the reconstructive forces that think about heterotopias
  • the “art of packaging” is just as vital in research as it is in other spheres of life: while it should not override the content (which it unfortunately also in the academic realm exceedingly does), this paper is exemplary in how to draft an article that is enjoyable to read.

In the upcoming sessions the role of researchers in the world seem to merit deeper delving – why do we do what we do? How do we or why should we differ from consultants? How does the episteme play out in this puzzle?


Longer outline of discussion:

The beef of the paper emerges out of the need for having reconstruction in the wake of deconstruction carried out in critical management studies. While criticizing the status quo of mainstream management studies for their performativity in strengthening the prevalent worldview with its existing power structures is valuable in highlighting problematic issues pertaining to e.g. equality and emancipation, it is only one step, in itself not sufficient in inducing change to whatever it is that could be deemed better. The problem identified by the authors is that critical studies tend to be polarizing and negative without offering alternatives, so their emphasis is on aiming at a more concrete research agenda on how to conduct meaningful critical management studies with practical relevance from within the field rather than criticizing it from the outside without offering alternatives. The authors suggest five pragmatic ways in which we can engage with the traditional field of management discourses in a gradual and iterative manner to induce change through microemancipation instead of laying out disruptive concepts that are more theoretically interesting than of practical relevance.

As such, the paper is kin to approach Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) takes in promoting phronetic wisdom, the key similarity being the emphasis on “doing social science that matters”. The relationship is also revealed in the lackadaisical attitude towards epistemology, the discussion of how can we know what we know and use as the foundation of our actions. Where Flyvbjerg outright dismisses the importance of epistemology in social science, claiming that we anyhow cannot reach such a level of theoretical knowledge building as is possible in natural sciences, the lack of emphasis on epistemology is mostly written in between the lines of the Spicer et al paper, evident in their focus on the practical impacts of management research on management.

This lack of focus on the philosophical issues highlights the strongly political nature of the Spicer et al. paper. The paper sets questions of epistemology and ontology on the side on purpose to focus on taking a political ‘sidestep’ towards achieving a more concrete research agenda on how to conduct meaningful critical management studies with practical relevance from within the field rather than criticizing it from the outside without offering alternatives. The rather implicit epistemological stance here leans on critical realism in the sense as in order to be able to change ‘something’, the existence of a ‘structure’ is necessary and suggests ‘the creation of mysteries’ as a possible method implying a preference towards abduction as a method for theorizing. The paper is excellently packaged and written for a specific audience, reminding the critical scholars criticizing the existing institutions that they are very strongly a part of the same institutions they criticize. However the scarcity of the epistemological dimension in the paper triggers the question of what is actually the difference between a researcher and a consultant (or is it merely the affiliation they work for)? It is left open what is the intended role of scientific understanding in the project that the paper suggests – or could the paper be equally read as a set of instructions to a consultant for better advising managers in creating “better” organizations?

Our discussion identified two levels of the notion “performativity” in the article: the performativity anchored in the means/ends effectiveness/efficiency thinking that is being criticized by the CMS stream, and the performativity Spicer et al. call for. So while the concept of performativity is elemental to the article, in our view the authors could be more clear in defining their understanding of the concept – to what extent do they for example subscribe to the mertonian notion of self-fulfilling prophesies? What is performativity – is all action performative, because to act is to trigger consequences as discussed in e.g. the actor-network-theory? Or does performativity – in order to be conceptualized as such – require both an acknowledgement of a set of ends (be they monetary or more “humanitarian”) towards which the performativity acts?

However, in our understanding the performativity of this paper bleeds into this interface between researchers and consultants with its strong practical, outright pragmatist approach. The five suggestions of how to do research that contributes to changing the organizations for the “better” could be adopted by any consultant interested in the same theme. This led our discussion towards thinking about the role of research in general – if everything we do is anyway performative (if we choose to define the concept as actions aligned against some set of scale of ends), couldn’t the agenda of the critical management studies already be performative enough in its ambition to increase the episteme, the theoretical knowledge about the hypocrisy and contradictions ample in the contemporary society?

In essence, if we position our ambition as scholars (and TSElosophers?) from “merely” pointing out what is wrong to suggesting how things could be “better” through enacting performativity not geared towards the mainstream ends set on the monetary scale, what are the elements that we as researchers could contribute to that pursuit beyond being “mere” consultants for a more emancipated, equal, ecologically solid and overall humanitarian way of doing business? This question was left unanswered in the Spicer et al. paper, which makes it interesting fodder for thought in future TSElosophers discussions.




I still think VERY critical studies are needed to bring out to light gender, diversity, colonial (see e.g. ‘Orientalism’ by Said that shows how patronizing and culturally colored the prevalent understanding of what Orient is…. This important work would have been impossible to do with increments from ‘within’), etc. There are many imbalances that mark our understanding (or lack thereof) of what Knowledge is (‘white man’s Cartesian tradition including stuff like ‘the invisible hand’ and ‘nature and people seen as mere resources , inputs to produce outputs’). So this way Spicer et al. paper is just a bland version of this tradition offering ways to make more incremental changes from within a given field. But it does a good job at selling the proposed concept and anchoring it in CMS.



Here I suggest a counter argument to the article for the sake of discussion. The authors suggest that, by focusing on anti-performativity, CMS gives itself an image problem. It resembles the annoying person in the back who constantly identifies, bemoans and decries all their perceived problems with the status quo without ever suggesting potential solutions and, even more annoyingly, doing so while clearly enjoying the benefits the status quo provides. The negativity in the language that this person uses even has the effect of generating unnecessary resistance from others to what may be an important message. To remedy this, the authors suggest that CMS should rather present a nicer, more pleasant face; offering potential solutions in a less antagonistic manner. However, the question is will ‘acting nice’ help the cause of CMS or might it work against it?

As it stands, CMS (in all its negativity) may already be sufficiently performative in its anti-performativity. The authors note that CMS “at least in the UK” has had a degree of success due to the fact that scholars offering critique often achieve a good level of throughput, and that anti-performativity is “preached at conferences and in the pages of journal articles”. They mention this in the context of taking a jab anti-performative perspective scholars’ hypocrisy in deriving personal benefit from the systems they seek to destroy. However, I would argue they are simply working their within an existing system they disagree with in order to disseminate their message to the wider world – not hypocritical unless they then complain once the message has taken effect (it is suggested that this is what happens, but that is just a strawman argument). My point is, yes, anti-performativity is performative. The ends these scholars seek are social changes, and they pursue these ends efficiently by being the messengers who are revealing to the world the message of what is wrong with the status-quo. That is where their role ends, and that is where the issue is picked up by other actors, whether they are other scholars, policy makers, organisations, or even just the general public, whose role it is to demand, find, or create the solutions.

My counter argument is, therefore, if CMS scholars are to put on a nice face, to become solution finders, benevolent seekers of micro-emancipations, will this dilute their role as malcontent, loud and vocal complainers? Why is it not sufficient that these individuals are getting the message out there through the means available to them (journal articles, conferences, books, press-releases)? Is the negative image of anti-performativity actually a problem, or is it in fact its key asset? Would the changes (for the better) that we have seen in society and management over the years been achieved through a ‘soft touch’ or were they the result of loud, negative, and sustained criticism? Perhaps it is best if we leave CMS scholars to do what they do best, critiquing, and leave the affirmation, care, pragmatic exploration of normative potentialities, to others who hear their message of a need for change

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