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  1. You’re probably right. =) I just very much cringe at the idea of applying a term such as ‘shaman’ — which has some very specific anthropological and cultural meaning — to business management. But hopefully, if that’s her goal, more people will have a look. I admit, I’m kind of curious now!

  2. Well put, Greg. Yes, that’s pretty much my concerns in a nutshell as well.

    Jonathan: I agree with you that the ‘ethics’ of business management are at best laughable, and at worst incredibly, unempathically vile. I think, though, that the author of the book agrees somewhat with that stance, and her “shamans” are her attempt to aid in changing that morality?

  3. So I started to read this, and I saw the title of the book, and my thought processes went thusly: “Intellectual Shamans:” What a cool concept! “Management Academics” Oh, that’s not a good sign. “Making A Difference” NOT THAT I’VE SEEN!

    I know I’ve ranted a lot about a particular business management school to y’all before. I look at it and… okay, I have to admit, some of the kids there are bright and wide-eyed summer children who want to Change The World and Do Good Things. Bless ’em. If only more than a fraction of the world’s MBAs were like them, then they might actually CTW and DGT. But aside from the ‘cultural appropriation’ you address in the next part of this post, calling the teachers and professors of these people ‘shamans’ is ridiculous. They aren’t training a new generation to guide communities — they’re teaching them to pillage said communities. They aren’t helping people — they’re being trained to treat people like disposable parts.

    Again, this is not all business/management academics. I’m sure there are some bright lights amongst the dregs who want to make capitalism a force for good in the world and who know that good management requires leadership. But when someone’s position is (paraphrasing here to protect my butt) “the Nike Professor of International Labor Management” you start to get a sneaking suspicion that their ethics are compromised.

  4. NOTE: My response is directed towards the author of the book, not Collie-as-reviewer.

    Overall, I agree with everything that you’ve said about this book. But going back to part 1, the quotes you highlighted from the book kept poking at my brain. Let me see if I can drill down why I’m so bothered by the author’s descriptions.

    On the surface of it, it may just be the wording. I’ve had a great deal of experience with people talking about things in words that sound spiritual and significant, but when you dig deeper, feel like they are a smokescreen for utterly vague sentiments. Or worse, commentary that hasn’t been thought through to its logical conclusion.

    First, there is the comment about “We ‘simply’ need to have the courage to answer the call to become who we really are”. The words immediately after suggest that the writer *knows* ‘who we really are’, assumes an innate benevolence that we must merely find a way to get at. That at the heart of things, we are all perfect souls or somelike. This notion feels very pie in the sky New Agey, and overlooks the simple facts of existence.

    ‘Who we really are’, is a complicated concept that is a construction of our experiences, our reactions to those experiences, and the context surrounding those experiences. It’s not a static thing. And as much as we might like to think otherwise, the combination of those three things above usually turn us into flawed people. Sometimes even shitty people.

    Based on that one quoted line above, what if who we truly are is a selfish, greedy, sadistic person? What if other things hold us back from truly expressing that (such as fear of consequence or means or lack of privilege): how then is ‘becoming who we truly are’ a good thing?

    That, of course, may be taking the language a little too literally. But even that aside, when I think about your worry about ‘ivory tower intellectualism’, and mentioning the lack of diversity, something else comes up.

    Privilege plays a huge part in this whole narrative. If most of them are white or live as an integrated part of the white world, then there is a major concern that there are whole areas of human experience that are ignored or discounted in the process of this whole ‘making the world a better place’. And without those voices contributing and helping proper critical thinking take place, the solutions these so called shamans come up with are also going to be imperfect. They may make no difference at all, or only help the people that are priviliged in the same way as them, or worse be outright harmful to the people they are supposedly trying to help.

    Or to put it more bluntly: if you want to know how to make the world a better place? Try asking those that are suffering the most. You don’t need to be intellectual, wise, or shamanistic to do any of that. You just need to ask questions, and then listen to the answers.

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