For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"A Curiously British Story: Foucault Goes to Business School"

by Carter, Chris (2008)


In this paper, an understanding is sought of how and why Foucault was to become such a major figure within UK organization studies. Setting the argument within a fashion frame, the text addresses the possible reasons behind Foucault's journey into organization studies. The key currents in Foucauldian thought within British business schools are summarized, and an understanding is sought of what it was about the context of the time that made Foucault so attractive to organization studies. Demonstrating the spread of Foucault into this field, the text highlights various means through which Foucault became institutionalized into organization studies. The translation of Foucault that happened when the French philosopher became fashionable in organization studies is discussed, and speculations are made about the retranslation to French organization studies. The paper concludes by speculating about the future of Foucault's thought within organization studies.

Key Passage

Foucault was a late entrant to organization studies, but his presence was already being felt in British accounting studies. During the 1970s, accounting in universities moved away from its excessively technical and vocational studies orientation and embraced the social sciences. The currents that were running through 1970s sociology found their way into accounting through intermediaries such as David Cooper, Anthony Hopwood, Tony Lowe, Peter Miller, and Tony Tinker. Accounting as a social science was borne, and in the 1980s, Foucault was to have a major impact on this subdiscipline of management.  (p.16)


Foucault, Organisation Studies, Fashion, Fashionable Ideas, Literature Review, Accounting Studies


On Foucault, Foucault, Organisation and Management Studies, British History

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