17 May 2024

British Journal of Management (BJM) Special Issue Call for Papers

Positive Performativity: How Can Business School Academia Shape More Desirable Realities?

British Journal of Management (BJM) Special Issue Call for Papers

Positive Performativity: How Can Business School Academia Shape More Desirable Realities?

Extended abstract/full paper deadline for paper development workshop (optional): 22 July 2024 (workshop: 23 September 2024)

Manuscript submission window: 1 December 2024 to 10 January 2025

Guest Editors:

With this special issue associated with the British Journal of Management Management Knowledge and Education section, we aim to push the realisation of more desirable management theories whose enactment ameliorates social and environmental issues instead of exacerbating or even causing them. We do so by harnessing the lens of performativity, which is centered on questions of making and shaping social realities (Gond et al., 2016; Salter, 2020), especially forming realities in the image of particular theories and ideas (D’Adderio et al., 2019; MacKenzie, 2006; Marti & Gond, 2018). We focus on a progressive understanding of performativity (Spicer et al., 2009; Wickert & Schaefer, 2015) and on the political dimension of performative “care” (Butler, 1997; de La Bellacasa, 2017; Perold et al., 2012), aiming today to prefigure the more socially and environmentally desirable business management realities of tomorrow (Gibson-Graham, 2008; Gümüsay & Reinecke, 2022; Laasch et al., 2020; Zanoni et al., 2017).

Importance for Management Research and Practice

Realities of business management and the wider realities co-created by management have been found to be undergirded by paradigmatic management theories causing many of the social and environmental problems that ail the world (Ghoshal, 2005). For instance, enacted management realities notoriously suffer from an unsustainable growth-obsession across fields, including marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship (Bobulescu, 2022; Laasch, 2024; Schmelzer, 2016), from instrumentalising human beings as resources as prescribed by ‘economistic’ profit-first and shareholder primacy paradigms (Lawrence & Pirson, 2015; Town et al., 2023); and from linear take-make-waste paradigm-based business models (Hofmann, 2022; Stål & Corvellec, 2018). Many of such common management realities and their underlying theories can be directly linked to the grand crises of our times and to thwarting the achievement of sustainable development goals (Ghoshal, 2005; Laasch, 2024; Laasch et al., 2022).

Academic practice and business school academics have frequently been blamed for playing a key role in the realisation and maintenance of unsustainable, unethical, and irresponsible management theories and corresponding practices (Amann et al., 2011; Ghoshal, 2005; Laasch et al., 2022), even sticking to them when these theories’ effects thwart the achievement of academics’ responsible management education goals (Moosmayer et al., 2019; Painter-Morland, 2015). This special issue aims to explore how management academia can, and already is assuming a proactive stance, at times even an activist role (Callahan & Elliott, 2020; Contu, 2020; Grosser, 2021) in realising (in the most literal sense of shaping realities) more desirable management theories and assumptions (e.g., related to de-growth, humanism, and circularity) and in de-realising problematic ones (e.g., shareholder and growth primacy, homo-economicus, or human ‘resources’). We are interested in reimagining and reshaping management academics and our practices (Millar, 2020; Waddock, 2020), in order to reimagine and remake management as a force for good (McPhail et al., 2022).

The ‘performative turn’ that has already swept over other fields (Gond & Cabantous, 2015; Muniesa, 2014) is just now in full swing in business and management studies, which allows us to tap into a quickly emerging, yet already mature field of research. Through our specific positioning of performativity, we open a space for contribution for the many performativity scholars in business and management studies in two ways. First, our interest in performativity as intentional, deliberate, and geared towards generating desirable future realities of management and beyond, transcends the hitherto mostly descriptive study of accidental or historical performative phenomena. Secondly, moving from performative theories as motors of new realities on to performative management academia, academics, and our practices opens an important and theoretically novel room for contributions to our understanding of performativity.

Openness to the Many Types of Performativity

We are open to the exploration of a variety of performative dynamics (Callon, 2007; MacKenzie, 2006), such as the creation of new realities (e.g., D’Adderio et al., 2019; Marti & Gond, 2018), the maintenance of desirable realities already in existence (e.g., Benson & Jackson, 2012; Cabantous & Gond, 2011), and counter-performative dynamics that sabotage the enactment of undesirable realities. Counter-performativity could include both coping with the dominant business management regime’s counter-acting against more desirable realities (e.g., Laasch, 2024) and when problematic regime realities are sabotaged or subverted in order to make space for more desirable ones (e.g., Boedker et al., 2020).

The study of such dynamics may draw from a variety of different performativity approaches, including but not limited to those of performative practice, bringing theories into being, socio-material mattering, performative communication, and the performative formation of the self (Gond et al., 2016; Salter, 2020). We seek to better understand the manifold performative roles played by academics as well as the performative praxis, practices, and processes of business and management academia (Cabantous & Gond, 2011; Marti & Gond, 2018). This may include all kinds of academic practices such as teaching, research, engagement, and administration (Laasch & Gherardi, 2019; Laasch et al., 2020).

Example Themes and Research Questions

Overall, we aim to connect to and elevate the initial foundation laid by pioneering performativity articles published in BJM (Edwards, 2017; MacIntosh et al., 2017). Areas of contribution could include, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  1. Navigating desirabilities. How to know what realities are actually desirable? How can we participate in the reflexive construction of what is understood as desirable? How may desirability differ in different locations, among different populations, and at different points in time? How to navigate potential tensions between alternative desirable realities (e.g., between climate mitigation and economic development)?
  2. Performative education and pedagogy. How may educational objects and interventions (e.g., curriculum design, didactics, materials used, speakers invited) be or become performative by shaping more desirable realities that correspond to more desirable theories and ideas of management?[1] When, where, how, and for whom does management education play a problematic role in performatively maintaining undesirable realities? How can we practice management education to make it a performative practice for the realisation of more desirable theories engendering more desirable management realities?
  3. Performative shaping of actors’ identities and selves. Should we, and if so, can we as management academics harness performative processes and practices to shape our own and others' (students, practitioners, stakeholders at large) identities (Butler, 2010; Gond et al., 2016) to enable them to enact more desirable realities? How can we counter-performatively undo the purely rational profit-maximising manager and performatively enable the generation of humanistic managers instead (Pirson, 2020)? How can we use threshold concepts to transform management students' nature and ways of being in the world (Hibbert & Cunliffe, 2015; Montiel et al., 2020)?
  4. Performative knowledge and academic artifacts. How can we generate performative knowledge and academic artifacts (theories, frameworks, books, presentations, etc.) (D’Adderio, 2008; Mason et al., 2015; Schöneborn, 2013), to make actants generating more desirable realities?
  5. Academics’ performative role and responsibilities. Contributions could engage in the exploration of performative practices as a form of intellectual activism (Contu, 2020) and of responsible research (Lindebaum & Fleming, 2023). We invite contributors to pursue questions related to academics’ conscious or unconscious assumptions of counter-performative roles and practices. This could include effects thwarting progress towards more desirable realities and reinforcing problematic management orthodoxies.
  6. The performative role of academic movements and institutions. What (counter)performative role may movements like the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM), academic rankings, and accreditations agencies play in either preventing the realisation of more desirable management ideas by reinforcing undesirable elements of the status quo, or as reshaping tomorrow’s realities with more desirable ideas and theories undergirding management practice?
  7. Academic boundary roles and practices. How may performative practice vary across different academic roles (e.g., research versus teaching-oriented versus administrational roles or “hardcore” academics versus academic practitioners)? How do and should different roles and their practices interrelate in a larger performative process of shaping realities according to more desirable theories?
  8. Performative theorising. How does a move from ostensive (explaining realities in existence) to performative (realising the theories that explain future realities) (Feldman, 2000; Latour, 1984) theorising change what we consider ‘good’ theorising practices and related methods? How should we understand and practice theorising when a theory’s validity and truth are not determined by how well it corresponds to current social realities, but how well it will correspond to potential future realities shaped in its image (MacKenzie, 2008)?
  9. Performative and constitutive academic communication. As academics, how and what can we learn from the study of performative language and constitutive communication in the CSR and ethics contexts (Blok, 2013; Schoeneborn et al., 2020; Schoeneborn & Trittin, 2013). How can we use, for instance, performative communication practices such as ‘aspirational talk’, (Christensen et al., 2013) and ‘ventriloquism’ (Cooren, 2016), to de-realise undesirable management ideas, and to realise more desirable ones?
  10. Pathways of performativity. How do performative practices evolve across academic fields of practices, such as teaching, research, engagement, and administration? How do they link beyond academia, and how can business and management academics assume a supportive role in a performative multi-actor, multi-stakeholder process? For instance, how can we use educational practices performatively, together with our research, and academic administration practices together with varieties of practitioners from other sectors (Laasch et al., 2020), in order to de-realise a growth-theory-dominated management reality, and instead realise a post-growth business management (Laasch, 2024)?
  11. Performative impact and relevance. A prominent stream of performativity is understood as bringing theories into being (Callon, 2007; Gond et al., 2016), by changing the underlying logic of practices as well as the theories in use that undergird enacted social realities (Argyris & Schon, 1974/1992; Bacharach et al., 1996; Bourdieu, 1990). How could we harness performative dynamics to theorise for socially and environmentally positive impact (Hernandez & Haack, 2023, p. 371)? How is performative impact different from other types of academic impact (Anderson et al., 2017; Wickert et al., 2021) and how can we achieve it by deliberately navigating boundary conditions of performativity (Marti & Gond, 2018)?

[1]With this theme, we follow the suggestion to move away from an anti-performative (against performance-driven, efficiency and effectiveness oriented pressures in education) (Cabantous et al., 2016; Gond et al., 2016; Wickert & Schaefer, 2015), and instead seek desirable reality-shaping opportunities, a very different type of performativity in comparison to the one educational studies and critical management studies have traditionally opposed.

Anticipated Shape of the Special Issue

We are particularly interested to receive contributions in the spirit and article formats (education theory articles, management theory articles, management educator essays) of the newly established Management Knowledge and Education section, but are also open to other BJM section submissions (methodology corner articles, traditional empirical and conceptual articles). The emphasis of management knowledge and education also offers a unique contribution to the performativity discussion, which has barely explored the positive performative potential of academics in our roles in education and as educators.

We are aiming for a full special issue of 10 articles including a wide variety of article types with strong emphasis on empirical articles both of qualitative and quantitative nature, building on varieties of methodologies and research philosophies.

Please note that review papers and forms of conceptual papers substantially based on a systematic review should be directed to the BJM sister journal, IJMR. Conceptual papers considered by BJM must show deductive logic and lead to a propositional model or similar form of theoretical contribution.

Please note that BJM’s maximum word length for a typical manuscript is 6,000 words. This excludes the abstract, references, figures and tables and is the absolute limit for conceptual papers. However, we recognise that there may be cases where there is a strong argument for a higher word count in empirical papers, for example in papers where the analysis is narrative in nature. In these exceptional cases, authors must explain in their cover letter why they need to exceed the word limit. Empirical papers of more than 8,000 words will not be considered and will automatically be sent back to the author. Similarly revised papers of any type, of more than 8,000 words, will not be considered.


To support authors in preparing their manuscripts for submission, the guest editors will organise a dedicated hybrid (online and in-person option available) paper and idea development workshop in Berlin on 23rd of September 2024.

Attending the workshop is not a condition for submission to the special issue. Authors interested in taking part are requested to submit either an extended abstract (maximum 2500 words) or a full manuscript by 22nd of July 2024 via email to [email protected].


BJM is published by the British Academy of Management and provides an outlet for research and scholarship on management-orientated themes and topics. It publishes articles of a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary nature as well as empirical research from within traditional disciplines and managerial functions. With contributions from around the globe, the Journal includes articles across the full range of business and management disciplines. Especially, if your articles is aimed as a contribution in the spirit of format of the Management Knowledge and Education section, please ensure to familiarise yourself with its unique article types.

At any stage of the process, please feel free to reach out to any team member as you see fit with your questions, ideas, or concerns related to this special issue, in particular, to sound out and shape submission ideas.

Deadline for paper submissions: 10 January 2025, submission window opens on 1 December 2024.

Authors should ensure they adhere to the journal author guidelines which are available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-8551/homepage/ForAuthors.html. Submissions should be uploaded to the BJM ScholarOne Manuscripts site at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjm. Authors should select ‘special issue paper’ as the paper type, ensure they answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this submission for a special issue?’ and enter the title of the special issue in the box provided. The special issue is planned to be published in July 2026.



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