Management Training and Ideal Speech
This chapter will analyse a few parameters of critical emancipatory education, communicative action and ideal speech by positioning these against the backdrop of authoritarian forms of communication often found in standard management training programmes.1 It will also highlight emancipatory communication and, above all, forces set free when ideal speech is applied to emancipatory education.2 From the outset, focusing on humanisation and the role of human beings in it will highlight some of the key differences between human beings and animals, between consciousness and semi-consciousness, and between a conscious engagement into management and economic affairs set against the ideology of unconsciously acting in a free market with an “invisible hand” as a crypto-automatic selfregulator.3 At the most basic level of such differences, there is the fact that animals—just as markets—cannot consciously reflect on the world that surrounds them. Instead, it impacts on them. Animals are instinct driven and immersed in the world. They exist in settings which they can never transcend By contrast, people emerge from the world, reflect on it, objectify it, and, in doing so, develop a philosophical and rational understanding, but they also engage in the conscious process of transforming the world through their labour as a rationally planned activity.
© The Author(s) 2017 T. Klikauer, Management Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40778-4_7
The activities of human beings consist of rational action and reflection.4 It is this rational and reflective praxis that enables human beings to engage in a transformation of the world. But such praxis requires consciousness, rationality, communication, and the development of concepts and theories. In historical terms, this might have started with theories capable of predicting seasons, planting and harvesting times during the evolution of agriculture. Human beings have engaged in theory and practice as well as in reflection and action ever since. This means that they have emancipated themselves from many animalistic traces as well as from the blind doctrinism of nature and domination. This might be summed up in the following statement:
Without an emancipatory theory there can be no emancipatory movement allowing human beings to emancipate themselves from the domineering forces of nature .
This also means that emancipation can only be achieved through conscious, educational, and communicative praxis (Aristotle). It is a reflection on human action directed against structures of domination that have to be transformed. Perhaps emancipation is the key to evolution, to human existence and to the question of “what it means to be human”. Equally, the emancipatory efforts that transform domineering structures can never be pre-designated by leaders claiming to be the leaders of evolutionary communicative and emancipatory processes. All of this involves communication and education.
An emancipatory commitment to educational processes and students who are involved in such communicative transformations is often set against those who seek to dominate them. This requires a theory of transformative educational action or critical pedagogy. Such a theory must never fail to assign to students a fundamental role in this educational transformative process. Educators can never treat those who seek emancipation as objects to be denied opportunities of critical emancipatory reflection. Above that, awareness can be established on the real and present danger of a continued manipulation by those cementing domination who predesign management training programmes “for” others.
Critical emancipatory educators also bear at least some responsibility for coordination, communication, and suggesting possible directions for education. But this is not merely a theoretical quest. It must always include communicative action and ideal speech. Set against that are managerial training leaders who deny emancipatory praxis to the manipulated “objects” of management training programmes while simultaneously invalidating their own “subjugated” praxis. By imposing their managerial world onto others, managerial ideologues simultaneously falsify the reality of their regimes, thereby camouflaging inherent contradictions between their “training” methods and their “repressive” objectives—for example, key learning objectives—designed to sustain managerial domination. When people are truly committed to emancipation, their educational actions and reflections can no longer proceed without communicative action, reflection, and ideal speech. With this, the previous form of top-down management training moves towards horizontal emancipation.
Emancipatory praxis must stand opposed to the ideological praxis of dominant managerial elites as they often enhance domination. It can never accept the “rationality of irrationality” found in, for example, rational managerial systems supportive of irrational goals such as rampant resource extraction and global environmental destruction paired with alienation at work.5 In such structures of domination, the praxis of students is reduced to following a training leader’s decisions that support these irrationalities while making them appear rational. This mirrors the prescriptive training methods of dominant managerial elites that all too often design management training programmes. In sharp contrast to that, emancipatory praxis builds a unity as emancipatory educators never treat those seeking emancipation as possessions or “empty slates” to be filled up with managerial knowledge. To sustain domination, management training often relies on the following:
- • Straightforward manipulation and ideological indoctrination
- • The latest and most fashionable management concepts put forward by
management consultants and accommodating academics
- • Sloganeering and the use of managerial weasel and buzzwords
- • The depositing of managerial formulas and knowledge
- • Memorising key managerial concepts
- • Fragmentation of knowledge to be completed in modules and e-learning
- • Strict regimentation geared towards testable knowledge
- • Adherence to pre-invented key learning objectives and prescriptive teachings.
All of these can never be components of emancipatory education, precisely because they are components of the praxis of domination. In order to dominate, the managerial training dominator—ideologically framed as instructor—has no choice but to deny students even the slightest hint of a critical emancipatory understanding of the managerial reality. Management training must deny them the right to say their own words and think their own thoughts. Furthermore, they can never act dialectically in the spirit of communicative action and ideal speech as this would mean that management training has either relinquished its power to dominate and joined the cause of those seeking emancipation or— alternatively—management training has lost its power through gross ideological miscalculations.
Conversely, critical educators who do not yet act communicatively by relying on mutual and equal recognition in their relations with students tend to have retained characteristics of domination and are not yet truly a force for emancipation. They might also be misguided on misconceptions of the role of emancipatory education and still be prisoners of an ideologically induced sectarianism—hard management knowledge presented as impersonal formulas that all too often parallels non-emancipatory training regimes. Sadly, they may even reach substantial levels of power inside management training processes. In contrast, the validity of any emancipatory education results inevitably from communicative action when linked to ideal speech.