Mechanisms of micro-terror? Early career CMS academics’ experiences of ‘targets and terror’ in contemporary business schools

Ron Kerr, Sarah Robinson, Olivier Ratle, Alexandra Bristow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper we apply the concept of ‘targets and terror’, previously applied in the healthcare sector, to the audit culture within business schools. We explore to what extent terror, or the inculcation of fear through processes of domination, may be identifiable in the micro-level experiences of early career academics (ECAs). Drawing on an international study of 38 Critical Management Studies ECAs from 15 countries, we develop a theoretical framework combining Bourdieu’s modes of domination and Meyerson and Scully’s Tempered Radicalism (TR) which helps us identify top-down and horizontal processes of micro-terror and bottom-up processes of micro-terrorism, specifically self-terrorization. In extending the study of ‘targets and terror’ cultures to contemporary business schools, we develop a clearer understanding of how domination plays out in the everyday processes of management and self-management. From Bourdieu’s modes of domination, we discern a dark picture of institutional and interpersonal overt and symbolic violence in the name of target achievement. The TR lens helps us to understand ECA challenges that can lead to self-terrorization but also brings possible ways forward, showing ECAs how to resist mechanisms of terror through their own small acts of counter-terrorization, providing some hope specifically as the basis for collective resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-471
Number of pages20
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number4
Early online date27 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bourdieu
  • critical management studies
  • early career academics
  • modes of domination
  • symbolic violence
  • tempered radicalism


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