Ventriloquial authority in management learning and education: a communication as constitutive of learning and education perspective

Alex Wright*, Tim Kuhn, Snejina Michailova, Paul Hibbert

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This theoretical essay argues that management learning and education (MLE) is fundamentally accomplished by communication. Specifically, we utilize a Communication as Constitutive of Organization perspective to advance MLE as fundamentally a communicational accomplishment, which we label ‘Communication as Constitutive of Learning and Education’. We focus on authority in the sense that all classroom conversations are authored, showing that the educator who faces the students is but one of many participants authoring classroom conversations. Authority becomes an emergent claim on action shaped by multiple interrelating texts that compete to influence practice. Classroom practice thus is a site of ventriloquial authority: when someone or something is made to speak in a specific way by a present or distant other that makes a difference for a conversational trajectory. We argue that management classrooms are replete with ventriloquial authority and that this is consequential for what educators teach and what students learn. We support our argument by illustrating ventriloquial authority in the classroom through the use of textbooks and visual media. We end with a “Call to Action” for educators to appreciate communication’s constitutive quality and to rethink how authority acts in MLE.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Learning & Education
VolumeIn-Press
Early online date1 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Education
  • Sociology of knowledge
  • Strategy Education
  • Ventriloquism
  • Authority
  • Communication as constitutive of organization (CCO)
  • Text
  • Discourse
  • Management learning and education

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