Militarization in Relation to International Business

Topics: Management, Business, Critical theory Pages: 9 (2794 words) Published: September 10, 2009
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Guest editorial

Introduction: militarization and international business
Peter Stokes
Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK


Ryan Bishop
National University of Singapore, Singapore, and

John Phillips
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce a special issue which looks into how militarization can be seen as an entity from which international business, management and organization can or cannot glean potentially useful lessons. Design/methodology/approach – Five papers have been used to give a suitable basis for the reconceptualisation and recontextualisation of the military and militarization in relation to international business. Findings – Several key tasks are achieved in rephrasing the issues of militarization in relation to international business. A wide national and cultural span is covered. Originality/value – In developing and assembling this collection of papers claim cannot be laid to have answered issues on militarization, ground has been laid and reference points provided for a much needed wider critical debate. Keywords Military actions, International business, Organizations Paper type General review

In the contemporary moment, and particularly post-Vietnam, attitudes within academic enquiry regarding military and “militarily infused” events and affairs are in most instances subject to variable and, on occasion, even reticent engagement and an almost reactionary and automatic invocation of certain commonly perceived representations. On the one hand, military and militarised contexts and environments are seen as an entity from which international business, management and organization can glean potentially useful and important lessons. Typically, these lessons have been envisaged as capable of being derived from comparative analysis of leadership in battle or generalship in military campaigns made applicable to business operations. Similarly, military – business exchanges across the international sphere have centred on mutual emulation or sharing best practice for the achievement of efficient and effective functions. On the other hand, in contrast to these alleged symbiotically useful exchanges, military may be perceived in a more negative or pejorative sense. Here, the military is categorically rejected as useful for business. A systematic marginalisation of the more profound effects of militarization on business and wider society typically conjures up and reverts to several kinds of popular cultural representations in terms of a set of

critical perspectives on international business Vol. 3 No. 1, 2007 pp. 5-10 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1742-2043 DOI 10.1108/17422040710722524



stereotypical images (e.g. harsh disciplinary regimes and fascist figures embedded in archaic hierarchical power structures) (Hassard and Holliday, 1998). Thus from this perspective, the military is circumscribed as remote and irrelevant, even dangerous and threatening, for international business. The propensity for such perspectives and representations, whenever they find expression at all, is predominantly within the critical management and organization realm. Representations of the military (whether positive or negative) present it as being an organisational form and experience distant and remote from other organizations and other modes of being in the world, thus neatly cleaving military and civic spheres. These academic inquiries and cultural representations not only overlook and eclipse many potentially fruitful opportunities for analysis and comment but also lead to a generalized perception that the military is largely a self-contained body that has little, and at best passing, influence on business and organizations as well as their nexus with national and...

References: Alvesson, M. and Willmott, H. (Eds) (1992), Critical Management Studies, Sage, London. Hassard, J. and Holliday, R. (1998), Organization Representation: Work and Organizations in Popular Culture, Sage, London. Murphy, J. (2004), “Managerialism meets its nemesis” (book review of Against Management, Martin Parker, Polity, Cambridge, 2002) in Organization, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 315-18. About the Guest Editors Peter Stokes (PhD MBA PGCertTLHE PGCertRDS BA(Hons)) is Principal Lecturer and Division Leader at the Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire. His research interests include management development, international business, cultural and philosophical approaches to understanding management. He has line management and consultancy experience in medium-sized and multinational organizations in a range of international settings. He has been visiting lecturer at Osnabruck Fachochschule, Germany, The Senegambian Confederation
Guest editorial
in Dakar, Senegal (West Africa) and Guang Zhou and Shen Zhen Universities in south-eastern China. He is a member of the editorial board of the SRHE Postgraduate Guides Series and co-author of the forthcoming Critical Concepts in Management and Organization Studies (Palgrave Macmillan). He is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: Ryan Bishop is Associate Professor of English at the National University of Singapore. He is on the editorial board of Theory, Culture and Society, executive co-editor of the New Encyclopaedia Project, and co-editor of Cultural Politics. His published work includes co-editing of Postcolonial Urbanism (Routledge, 2004) and Beyond Description (Routledge, 2005) and co-author of Night Market (Routledge, 1998). John Phillips is Associate Professor of English at the National University of Singapore. He is on the editorial board of Theory, Culture and Society, executive co-editor of the New Encyclopaedia Project. His published work includes Contested Knowledge: A Guide to Critical Theory (2000), and the co-edited collections Reading Melanie Klein (1998), Postcolonial Urbanism (2004) and Beyond Description (2005).
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