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Rationalizing Strategy

Game Theory in Management Pedagogy and Practice

Daniel Breslau

Since the 1980s, game theory has become a standard feature of management school curricula, treated extensively in textbooks and core courses in managerial economics and competitive strategy. It promises a formal and rational set of procedures for formulating decisions in situations of dynamic interaction. I suggest that the appeal, and key symbolic effect of game theory is not due to its actual influence on the decisions reached. Rather, it is due to the reframing of decisions and the contexts in which they are made, in terms of the framework of game theory. When strategic action is formulated and justified in terms of game theory, the theory serves as a kind of sociodicy, a social theory which justifies suffering as a necessary evil. I suggest that the increased appeal of game theory since the 1980s has to do with changes in the social organization and managerial culture of corporations.

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Management Speak

Indigenous Knowledge and Bureaucratic Engagement

Sally Babidge, Shelley Greer, Rosita Henry and Christine Pam

In this article we examine the concept of 'indigenous knowledge' as it is currently used in resource management discourse. In the process of engaging with government agents and researchers in the bureaucracy of resource management, indigenous knowledge is a powerful concept in the legitimization of local indigenous practice as well as the recognition of resource and socio-environmental management aspirations. Our use of the phrase 'management speak' frames our analysis of these bureaucratic engagements as process (management) and dialogue, rather than a 'space'. We do so in order to gain insights into the politics and practice of these engagements that might go beyond recognition of indigenous interests and toward more practical approaches. Our discussion draws on research conducted at Yarrabah Aboriginal Community in northern Queensland in relation to marine resource management in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

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Sustainable Forest Management

The Role of Government Agencies, NGOs, and Local Communities in Western Australia

Leonie van der Maesen and Timothy Cadman

This article details the engagement by the Department of Physical Geography of Utrecht University in the Netherlands with rural communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to assist them in gaining a better understanding of the environmental impacts of the management practices of the governmental forest authorities of the state of Western Australia in pursuit of international timber exports. The study commences with a description of the unique characteristics of WA’s forest communities. It continues with an account of governmental international forest policy norms and the discourse of sustainable forest management (SFM). This is followed by a delineation of the interactions between the academic community and civil society in their engagement with governmental departments in arguing the case for conservation. The final section makes some concluding observations on the lessons that can be learned from the failure of the state government to ensure the sustainable management of the forests of Western Australia.

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Neoliberal Water Management

Trends, Limitations, Reformulations

Kathryn Furlong

The impact of neoliberal policy reform on water management has been a topic of significant debate since the mid-1980s. On one side, a number of organizations have generated an abundant literature in support of neoliberal reforms to solve a range of water governance challenges. To improve water efficiency, allocation, and management, supporters have advocated the introduction and/or strengthening of market mechanisms, private sector ownership and operation, and business-like administration. Other individuals and groups have responded critically to the prescribed reforms, which rarely delivered the predicted results or became fully actualized. This article endeavors to articulate the varying sets of claims, to analyze the trends, to test them against their forecasted benefits, and to examine certain prominent proposals for reforming the reforms. The water sector experience with neoliberalization reveals several sets of contradictions within the neoliberal program, and these are discussed in the final section of the article.

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Selina Stead, Tim Daw and Tim Gray

This article reviews methods used in the increasing use of fishers' knowledge in contemporary fisheries management. During the last one hundred years, fisheries science has been used extensively to inform management decisions for the regulation of sea fisheries. However, the decline of many fish stocks has cast doubt on the sufficiency of fisheries science, and has led to demands from fishers that their own expertise—fishers' knowledge—should be taken into account in decision-making. In this article, we examine four case studies of such attempts to take account of fishers' knowledge in the management of North Sea fisheries, comparing their different methods of identifying and using fishers' expertise, and assessing their respective outcomes. Our conclusion is that the value of fishers' knowledge improves according to the extent to which the method of obtaining it is participative and interactive.

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Menno W. Straatsma and Reinier J.W. de Nooij

Integrated river management is heralded as the new style of river management, but it has been preceded by a number of previous styles, and is unlikely to be the last. This article presents the first analysis of the evolution of river management using Spiral Dynamics (SD). SD provides a growth hierarchy of value systems (vMemes), reflecting increasing complexity and inclusiveness ranging from instinctive to holistic. Based on an interpretation of literature and policy documents, we conclude that (1) SD provides a broad interpretative framework that can be applied in all river basins, (2) river management in the Netherlands shows the subsequent dominance of the blue, orange, and green vMeme, yellow is at the take-off phase, (3) further transition to yellow integrated river management requires identification of barriers to change. We give an overview and policy implications. Further research should be oriented towards quantification of vMemes in stakeholders and landscaping measures.

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Niki Frantzeskaki, Jill Slinger, Heleen Vreugdenhil and Els van Daalen

This article presents the reframing of flood management practices in the light of social-ecological systems governance. It presents an exploratory theoretical analysis of social-ecological systems (SES) governance complemented by insights from case study analysis. It identifies a mismatch between the goals of the underlying ecosystem paradigms and their manifestation in management practice. The Polder Altenheim case study is an illustration of the consequences of flood management practices that do not match their underlying paradigm. The article recommends two institutional arrangements that will allow institutions to increase their capacity to co-evolve with SES dynamics: (a) institutional arrangements to ensure and enable openness in actor participation, and (b) institutional arrangements to enable updating of the management practices in response to SES dynamics.

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Veronica Strang

Environmental management in Australia has recently shifted away from local rural communities into the hands of largely urban environmental and government agencies, sparking an intensifying contest for the control of land and resources between geographically and socially stable communities and more mobile translocal groups. There are major disjunctions between the conceptual models promulgated in this contest. Highly specific, holistic, and integrative cultural paradigms of human-environmental interaction vie with an increasingly dominant technomanagerial environmental model emerging from global discourses and knowledge practices. Categorizing "Nature" as a separate, nonhuman domain, this more cosmopolitan approach fails, intellectually and practically, to integrate social and cultural issues into environmental management. Nevertheless, its proponents are provided with increasing authority by their relationships with wider agencies of governance. Building on long-term ethnographic research in Far North Queensland, this paper explores how local and cosmopolitan environmentalisms are contested in a particular ethnographic context.

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Michael Jackson and Damian Grace

This article analyses the way in which the life and works of Niccolò Machiavelli are misunderstood and misconstrued by writers and scholars, in the fields of management, personality research and primate studies. While adjectives like 'Machiavellian' and nouns like 'Machiavellianism' have become part of the vernacular, these scholarly usages trade on, perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes of Machiavelli in (1) a host of books and articles in management, (2) an instrument to assess personality that has been administered to thousands of subjects around the world, and (3) authoritative studies of primate behaviours from the Netherlands to Japan. The distorted Machiavelli depicted in these fields is but a shadow of the deft, insightful and elusive Machiavelli of The Prince, The Discourses, Mandragola, The Art of War, The Florentine Histories and more. We suggest that colleagues should recognise and rebut these shadowy Machiavellis in teaching, scholarship and research. If specialists in history and political science ignore them, they will continue to obscure the reality.

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Bisan Salhi

This article first describes the unique place of emergency medicine (EM) within the American healthcare system. Second, it examines the uncertainty that underlies the practice of emergency medicine. It then describes how risk is perceived, negotiated and minimised by emergency physicians in their day-to-day practice. Finally, it explores how the management of medical risk is related to the establishment of trust within the physician–patient interaction and to the construction of the 'competent physician'. In caring for patients, the emergency physician must minimise risk and instil trust within a pressured, time-sensitive environment. Consequently, the management of risk and display of competence to patients are simultaneously accomplished by symbolic representations, the use of medical diagnostic tools in decision-making, and narrative construction within the clinical interaction.