In Search of a Dérive: for Alternative Media Narratives of Management and Organization

Monika Kostera,

Jerzy Kociatkiewicz,

Michał Zawadzki


Many recent publications hold a dark view of contemporary business administration and its context. The current state of capitalism and corporate management is described as zombie (Harman, 2009), ghostly (Roy, 2014) or, in the most benign appraisal, sick but not dying (Tomlinson, 2010).  At the same time, business schools, textbooks and popular management books remain wedded to a reductive view of social interactions, drawing inspiration as well as authority from a century of socioeconomic triumph as well as from the rigid definitions of management relations as handed down by the founding figures of the discipline. Drawing inspiration from Walter Benjamin’s (1969) refiguring of Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur, we revisit the haunted spaces of popular management books, using the situationist method of dérive to invoke the ghosts of foundational thinkers for  inspiration and, possibly, exorcism. The aim of this excursion is to propose strategies for communication about some old ideas of management which still can be regarded as vital, even though the contemporary forms may have become morbid (Fleming, 2017). 

Słowa kluczowe: media discourse, popular management books, flâneur, dérive, neoliberalism, corporate culture

Armstrong, P., Lightfoot, G. (eds.) (2010). ‘The Leading Journal of the Field’: Destabilizing Authority in the Social Sciences of Management. London: Mayfly.

Bachelard, G. (2002). The Formation of the Scientific Mind. Bolton: Clinamen.

Barthes, R. (1975). The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill and Wang.

Bauman, Z. (2017). Retrotopia. London: Polity.

Bauman, Z. (2012). Times of Interregnum. Critical Debate, 5(1), pp. 49-56.

Bauman, Z., Bauman, I., Kociatkiewicz, J., Kostera, M. (2015). Management in a Liquid Modern World. Cambridge: Polity.

Benjamin, W. (1969). Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. London: Verso.

Burrell, G. (1997). Pandemonium: Towards a Retro-Organization Theory. London: SAGE.

Collini, S. (2012). What Are Universities for? London: Penguin.

Connell, R. (2019). The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why Its Time for a Radical Change. London: Zed Books.

Czarniawska, B. (1999). Writing Management: Organization Theory as Literary Genre. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Czarniawska-Joerges, B. (1993). The Three-Dimensional Organization: A Constructionist View. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Deal, T.E., Kennedy, A.A. (1982). Corporate Cultures: The Rites And Rituals of Corporate Life. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Debord, G. (1977). Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black & Red.

Derrida, J. (1994). Spectres of Marx. New York: Routledge.

Dickens, Ch. (2006). A Christmas Carol. Project Gutenberg, accessed 26.05.2017 at

Eco, U. (1995). Six Walks in the Textual Woods. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Escarpit, R. (1958). Sociologie de la littérature. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Fleming, P. (2017). The Death of Homo Economicus. London: Pluto.

Fleming, P. (2019). The Worst Is Yet to Come: A Post-capitalist Survival Guide. London: Repeater.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Freire, P. (2001). Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Fukuyama, F. (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. London: Penguin.

Gilmore, S., Harding, N., Helin, J., Pullen, A. (eds.) (2019). Writing differently. Management Learning, 50(1), pp. 3-10.

Giroux, H. (2010). “Higher education: reclaiming the university as a democratic public sphere. In: M. Major (ed.). Where Do We Go from Here? American Democracy and the Renewal of the Radical Imagination. Boulder, CO: Lexington Books, pp. 71–83.

Habermas, J. (1985). The Theory of Communicative Action. Boston: Beacon Press.

Harman, Ch. (2009). Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx. London: Bookmarks.

Hatch, M.J., Kostera, M., Koźmiński, A. (2005). The Three Faces of Leadership: Manager, Artist, Priest. London: Blackwell.

Hesse, H. (2000). Demian. Mineola: Dover Publications.

Hesse, H. (2003). The Journey to the East. New York: Picador.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee. London: Sage.

Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kociatkiewicz, J., Kostera, M. (2019). Textual flâneurie: Writing management with Walter Benjamin. Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization, 19(10), pp. 163-178.

Kostera, M. (2019). Organize Ourselves! London: MayFly.

Kunda, G. (1992). Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Kundera, M. (2007). The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts. New York: Harper Perennial.

Marx, K., Engels, F. (1848/2000). Manifesto of the Communist Party. Marxist Internet Archive, accessed 15.05.2017 at

Mansouri, M., Rowney, J. (2014). The Dilemma of Accountability for Professionals: A Challenge for Mainstream Management Theories. Journal of Business Ethics, 123(1), pp. 45-56.

Nussbaum, M. (2010). Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ochinowski, T. (2017). Przypominanie organizacyjne jako kompetencja. Problemy Zarządzania, 15(2), pp. 39-53.

Parker, M. (2008). “If only business schools wouldnt teach business. The Observer, accessed 27.05.2017 a

Parker, M. (2018). Shut Down the Business School: Whats Wrong with Management Education. London: Pluto.

Parker, M. (2014). Writing: What can be said, by who, and where?. In: E. Jeanes, T. Huzzard (eds.). Critical Management Research: Reflections from the Field. London: SAGE, pp. 211-226.

Piketty, T. (2013). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Plato (2012). Six Great Dialogues: Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, the Republic. Mineola: Dover Publications.

Rhodes, C. (2017). Academic Freedom in the Corporate University: Squandering Our Inheritance?. In: M. Izak, M. Kostera, M. Zawadzki (eds.). The Future of University Education. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 19-38.

Rigby, D. (1993). How to Manage the Management Tools. Planning Review, 21(6), pp. 8-15.

Roberts, P. (2008). Life, Death and Transformation: Education and Incompleteness in Hermann Hesses The Glass Bead Game. Canadian Journal of Education, 31(3), pp. 667-696.

Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton: University of Princeton Press.

Roy, A. (2014). Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Chicago: Haymarket.

Schuback, M.C. (2006). Pochwała Nicości. Eseje o hermeneutyce filozoficznej. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellskiego.

Styhre, A. (2005). Management Writing Out of Bounds: Writing after Postcolonialism. Copenhagen: CBS Press.

Szwabowski, O. (2014). Uniwersytet Fabryka Maszyna. Warszawa: Książka i Prasa.

Tomlinson, J. (2010). Sick but not Dying. Political Studies Review, 8(1), pp. 67-72.

Willmott, H. (1993).Strength Is Ignorance, Slavery Is Freedom: Managing Culture in Modern Organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 30(4), pp. 515-552.

Witkowski, L. (2007). Wstęp do problemu fenomenologii czytania (uwagi nie tylko seminaryjne). In: L. Witkowski (ed.). Mdzy pedagogiką, filozofią i kulturą. Studia, eseje, szkice (pp. 29-66). Warszawa: IBE.

Zawadzki, M. (2014). Nurt krytyczny w zarządzaniu. Kultura, edukacja, teoria. Warszawa: Sedno.