Imagining the unmanageable: MBAs at the limits of neoliberalism

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MBAs are trained to manage the edges of neoliberal capitalism. Contemporary MBA programmes in the United States cultivate the ideal of an entrepreneurial manager by staging the convergence of two boundaries of neoliberalism. One has to do with the unmanageable and uneconomic (and unavoidable) excess of the social. This is nowhere more apparent than in business schools’ rediscovery of international spaces of capitalism. Over the past two decades, US MBA curricula have been engaged in a re-enchantment of the world as a patchwork of spaces marked by enduring, risky and potentially valuable cultural differences, in contrast to the anticipation of their more efficient incorporation as dispersed sites of a flat world under earlier scenarios of global neoliberalism. A second boundary has to do with the holistic ideal of the manager, whose success rests upon complementing the always-incomplete technocratic expertise in functional business skills with a supplement of talent, instinct and creative insight. Business schools produce the agents of neoliberal capitalism from an explicit reckoning of the limits of such claims about the world and its subjects. This essay focuses on the ways MBA curricula frame international business contexts as calling forward the fullest expression of technical and talented MBA leadership.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-65
Number of pages16
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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