Call for Papers: Managing Space with Culture: Critical Approaches to the Use of Culture in Regional Governance

Aкадемски | 13.11.2014. 15:00

The 9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies „Is there an alternative? Management after critique“, University of Leicester, 8-10 July 2015, is looking for papers for its sub-stream „Managing Space with Culture: Critical Approaches to the Use of Culture in Regional Governance“. This stream will present a platform to highlight the interconnections between critical geographies and critical management studies to study regional governance/development issues. The aim will be to explore the ways in which culture is used within regional governance at local, national, and regional levels.

The conference aims to engage thinking that explores alternatives to the ubiquity of neoliberal market managerialism, as well as rejecting the idea that there are none. Such alternatives could be understood in practical terms of specific organisational forms and practices, or theoretical developments that may inspire a generation of new forms of localism or alter-globalisation as resistance to neoliberalism. They may reflect personal alternatives, relating to the choices people make in terms of how to live their lives in the context of a neoliberal globalised world. Even more generally alternatives might focus on the critique of economic, political, managerial and organisational dogma, as it becomes embedded as the supposed ‘one best way’ of doing things.

Conference Sub-streams are e.g.

  • Dwelling in the Ruins of Management
  • Finance and its Alternatives: Probability, Practice and Education
  • Managing Space with Culture: Critical Approaches to the Use of Culture in Regional Governance – Call for Papers
  • Towards inclusive development? Transformations in the public, private and civic sectors in developing countries
  • Global elites and the transnational capitalist class
  • Organisation and Collaborative Practices in the Arts
  • Taking management research beyond critique: An experiential drama workshop on Cultural Animation
  • Organising and migration(s): moving borders, enacting transformative spatialities, creating mobile commons
  • Exploring Civil Society, Voluntary and Not-for-profit organisations as a crucible for creative alternative, democratic imaginaries
  • Critical Entrepreneurship Studies
  • Questioning the ‘Fixing’ of Management Education: Opening up the alternatives

Culture is used in three ways; firstly as an instrument for economic prosperity; secondly, as a means to bolster social well-being; and thirdly, as a form of competitive advantage. Overall, these strategic uses of culture amount to a quantification of cultural value and identify its ultimate appeal as economic, despite identifying non-economic rationales as important in regional planning. The stream will question whether culture has become a USP for post-industrial economies to compete on a global stage.

Since Richard Florida’s work on the creative class, ‘culture’ has become a buzzword in public administration and regional governance circles. According to Florida, the promotion of the 3Ts (Technology, Tolerance, and Talent) leads to the development of a ‘creative class’ that become a key determinant of economic growth and prosperity – culture can therefore be used in instrumental ways to develop urban economies. In this guise, cultural value comes from a perspective that views culture much in the same way as technology is viewed by discourses of the ‘knowledge economy’, where it is an asset or source of vitality to renew economic and social spaces.

This idea has been adopted, largely uncritically, as a model of urban development in the global north. Major manifestations of such a use of culture is in the UK and EU Cities of Culture competitions, or host city status for major sporting events. Or on a more micro-level, however, are the construction of ‘cultural quarters’, heritage focussed re-development, and the urban plumbing of creative industries. These trends signify that the culture we consume on an everyday level is managed, maintained, and manipulated by and for economic and political interests; rather than being a vernacular reflection of people’s ways of life as it is in its folk origins. Culture is therefore an aspect of human existence that has fallen foul of the managerialism inherent in neo-liberal capitalism.

The use of culture as some form of economic instrument is counter-intuitive to the post-war Keynsian idea that culture was a human good that society should afford its citizens, and therefore a cost to the economy not an investment. This shift in the evaluation of cultural value signifies an opening for a critical examination of the use of culture to renovate economies in the global north.

As culture can be promoted for social as well as economic benefits, it is therefore sensible to assume that there are vast arrays of alternative uses of culture that contrast against the neo-liberalism of the ‘creative class’ thesis. It is in this way timely to consolidate a critical management approach to the maintenance, manipulation, and manifestation of contemporary cultural life. As much of this occurs in distinct spatial contexts it seems sensible to look to insights developed in cultural, social, and economic geographies that critique the spatial constructions of these ontologies.

Submission details

Therefore, this stream seeks papers that present a critical management perspective fuelled by insights from critical sociology and critical geography to investigate the following issues pertinent to regional governance and cultural value:

  • Does a focus on culture and creative industries offer a panacea for regional economic development?
  • What is the role of the state/Local Government sector in the establishment of a local/regional cultural identity?
  • What are the ‘impacts’ of the cultural and heritage industries have on their local economy?
  • Does size matter? Is the cultural turn applicable to both large and small Cities?
  • What are the public/private arrangements for the planning and management of culture focussed development?
  • What role do communities and local democracy play in shaping culture and its use in the planning and management of local spaces?
  • Can culture be promoted in alternative ways to commercialism?

To join this stream or contribute to one of the other streams, please have first a look at the website and then send a 500 word abstract for your paper addressing one of the themes outlined above to Dr Richard Courtney ( and Dr Martin Quinn ( by 31 January 2015 at the very latest.