Creative subtexts in MBA courses

Creativity and the Management of Change
March 24, 2000

This book is organised around a search for the concept of creativity within the subjects that comprise the MBA curriculum. In each subject, Tudor Rickards establishes the orthodox "platform of understanding" through a review of the main texts. He then seeks to challenge the orthodoxy by a search for the "hidden voices" within each subject. It is in the contrast between the orthodoxy and the hidden voices that he looks for treatments of the concept of "creativity".

This approach succeeds in showing that, throughout the business curriculum, treatments of innovation and creativity, if they occur at all, have been suppressed. Rickards's dominant voices treat managers as rational planners who can be given possession of a clear best practice.

The reader may ask why the orthodoxy has so often come to mean a quantitative approach to social processes. This question is raised more acutely because in several instances Rickards indicates a process of progressive misinterpretation of authors to make them fit the dominant understanding (the treatment of Lewin's work being an outstanding example). Rickards does not attempt to answer this question.

The book does not advocate curriculum change or attempt to synthesise the hidden voices and produce a theory of creativity. The achievement is the demonstration of the selectivity of the standard curriculum. This leads Rickards to hope that the intellectual journey that the book represents will help student readers to become more creative by giving him or her a more critical approach to the orthodox business curriculum. This is undoubtedly where the book has value in the classroom, as a good introductory text to a course on creativity in business and economics.

John Howells is associate professor, business school, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Creativity and the Management of Change

Author - Tudor Rickards
ISBN - 0 631 21068 7
Publisher - Blackwell
Price - £22.99
Pages - 223

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