Syllabus overview (public)

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Programme Master in Management
Academic Year Academic Year 2024/2025
Module/course Code OA19
Delivery location Paris
Language English
Course type Elective courses 15h
Contact hours 15
ECTS 2.5
Level 5 (year post baccalaureate)
Semester Summer
Field (Discipline) Accounting
Academic Department Management Control


Module/course Summary

Management, as it is practiced or perceived, in its tools, its theories and its outcomes, is often the subject of criticism. These criticisms are of all sorts: radical (challenging the very legitimacy of management, which is seen as the medium of the reproduction of a questionable social and economic system), reformist (shining a spotlight on the shortcomings of today’s management systems and searching for innovations to deal with them), and theoretical (the fragility or even absence of theoretical foundations for management). In addition to these criticisms, managers are increasingly urged to develop their critical thinking ability, their capacity to question all decisions and to challenge models and structures.
These critical areas reveal an imperative to transform management which would require a certain freedom to think and act and techniques for analysis as well as an awareness of the assumptions and consequences of management. Indeed, management and its methodologies are not neutral: they carry certain normative views and definitions of human behaviour. They are based on implicit assumptions that are seldom questioned. But the critique of managerial reason allows us to lay bare these assumptions and to study various management myths so as to better frame the question of the social relevance of management practices.
These repeated calls for critical thinking also implicitly reveal the lack of it in organisations and consequently the risk of conformist behaviour and the unquestioning acceptance of structures. The absence of critical thinking is also an absence of progress, because past successes gradually acquire the status of universal solutions. The extreme sensitivity to management trends – perhaps even to ‘fads’ – is an example of this tendency to blindly follow the herd. Critical thinking, on the other hand, puts proven recipes into perspective, helps understand what makes them suitable or useful as well as their consequences for all stakeholders so as to identify opportunities for challenging the status quo and favouring the emancipation of individuals. It is then a matter of restoring the capacity to shift managerial thinking and action away from the inevitability of the “one best way”, the “I do the same as the competition” attitude, or “me too” strategies and recreate the possibility of an alternative to today’s management.
But this also means that managers must possess the tools necessary to make this act of intellectual and practical emancipation possible. How can organisations reconcile the emancipation potential of critical thinking with control processes that seem to be inherent in social structures like companies?For future managers this course provides a framework for developing their capacity for critical thinking about management and for positioning themselves with respect to this contradiction between the need for emancipation and the need for control.