chapter  7
13 Pages

He who may not be mentioned: Marx, history, and American business schools

WithRichard Marens

That was Robert Brenner’s 1999 email response to my invitation to speak to the Critical Management Studies Interest Group (later a division) at the Academy of Management meeting that was to be held that year in San Diego, a very pleasant place to visit and one not far from his home in Los Angeles. It was understandable that Brenner, probably the most prominent Marxist historian working at an American university, was puzzled to learn that critical theorists actually have an organized presence within business schools. Very little happens at such schools that would pique the interest of a professional historian of any orientation, although ironically, Sanford Jacoby, perhaps the only American management scholar likely to be read by a Marxist academic, shares a campus with Brenner. While business schools in the rest of the English-speaking world have proven a little more supportive of both history and critical scholarship than their American counterparts, what critical history is produced by business academics outside of the United States is more likely to embrace a Foucauldian rather than a Marxist perspective. Given the neglect of history on the part of business schools, plus the anathema they have placed on even acknowledging Marx, it would be surprising if someone like Brenner paid them any attention at all.