Critical pedagogy for teaching HRM in the context of social change

  • Shaun Ruggunan Discipline of Human Resources Management, School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Dorothy Spiller Teaching Development Unit, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand


This paper considers the imperatives of human resource management (HRM) studies in the context of contemporary South Africa. The authors draw on critical management studies (CMS) and the principles of emancipatory education to inform their argument for a critical and relevant HRM curriculum and associated teaching and learning approaches. The authors propose that the content and processes of HRM education must prepare students for critical participation in the contemporary South African society and workplace. The discussion outlines the rationale for the study, the specific prompts for its initiation, the theoretical framework of CMS, and Freire’s concept of emancipatory education. 


Alexander, P., Lekgowa Mmope, B., Sinwell, L., and Xezwi, B. 2013. Marikana: A view from the mountain and a case to answer. Jacana Books, Pretoria.

Alvesson, M. and Willmot, H. 1992. On the idea of emancipation in management and organisation studies. Academy of Management Review, 17, 432-64.

Alvesson, M. 2003. Critical organization studies. In: Czarniawska, Barbara/Sevón, Guje (Hg.), The Northern lights. Organization theory in Scandinavia, Malmö: Liber, 151-174.

Baxter Magolda, M. 2004. Evolution of a constructivist conceptualisation of epistemological reflection. Educational Psychologist, 39 (1), 31-42.

Bench Marks Foundation. 2007. Policy Gap 1. A review of the corporate social responsibility programmes of the platinum mining industry in the North-West province. Published by the Bench Marks Foundation ( za/).

Choo, K. L. 2007. Can critical management education be critical in a formal, higher education setting? Teaching in Higher Education 12 (4), 485-497.

Cunliffe, A., Forray, J. M., and Knights, D. 2002. Considering management education: Insights from critical management studies. Journal of Management Education, 26 (5), 489-495.

Davies, H. 2010. The financial crisis. Who is to blame? London: Polity.

Das, S. 2011. Extreme money. Masters of the universe and the cult of risk. New York: Pearson.

Dehler, G. E. 2009. Prospects and possibilities of critical management education: Critical beings and a pedagogy of critical action. Management Learning Action, 40 (1), 31-45.

Fenwick, T. 2005. Ethical dilemmas of critical management education: Within classrooms and beyond. Management Learning, 36 (1), 31-48.

Fournier, V. and Grey, C. 2000. At the critical moment: Conditions and prospects for critical management studies. Human Relations, 53 (1), 31-48.

Forray, J. M. and Leigh, J. 2010. Principles of responsible management education (PMRE). Journal of Management Education, 34, 184.

Freire, P. 1970; 1993. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Routledge.

Grey, C. 2001. Re-imagining relevance: A response to Starkey and Madan. British Journal of Management, 12 (Special Issue), 27-32.

Huault, I., and Perret, V. 2011. Critical management education as a vehicle for emancipation: Exploring the philosophy of Jacques Rancière. M@n@gement, 14 (5), 281-309.

Hooks, B. 2003. Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge.

Healey, M. 2008. Linking research and teaching: Exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In Barnett, R. (Ed.) (2005), Reshaping the university: New relationships between research, scholarship and teaching. London: McGraw Hill / Open University Press, pp. 67-78.

Huff, A. and Huff, J. 2001. Re-focusing the business school agenda. British Journal of Management, 12 (Special Issue), 49-54.

Islam, G. and Zyphur, M. J. 2007. Critical industrial psychology: What is it and where is it? Psychology in Society, 34, 17-30.

Islam, G. 2012. Can the subaltern eat? Anthropophagic culture as a Brazilian lens on post-colonial theory. Organization, 19 (2), 159-180.

Islam, G. 2012. Between unity and diversity: Historical and cultural foundations of Brazilian management. European Journal of International Management, 6 (3) 265-282.

Land, R. and Gordon, G. 2008. Research teaching linkages: Enhancing graduate attributes. Report of Sector-wide Project, Vols. 1 & 2, Quality Assurance Agency, Glasgow. [Online] Available: http// publications/research-teaching-linkages [Last accessed on 14 February 2013].

Lukea-Bhiwajee, S. 2010. Reiterating the importance of values in management education curriculum. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5 (4), 229-240.

McWilliam, E. 2008. Unlearning how to teach. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45 (3), 263-269.

Moosmayer, D. 2011. Professors as value agents: A typology of management academics’ value structures. Higher Education, 62, 49-67.

Pellissery, S. 2013. Managing unto this last, IRMA Working Paper No. 237, pp. 133.

Reynolds, M. 1999. Grasping the nettle: Possibilities and pitfalls of a critical management pedagogy. British Journal of Management, 10 (2), 171-184.

Reynolds, M. & Trehan, K. 2000. Assessment: A critical perspective. Studies in Higher Education 25 (3), 267-278.

Spicer, A., Alvesson, M. and Karreman, D. 2009. Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies. Human Relations, (62), 537559.

Starkey, K. & Madan, P. 2000. Bridging the relevance gap: Aligning stakeholders in the future of management research. Report to Council of the British Academy of Management and the Foundation for Management Education, Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham.

Stiglitz, J. 2010. Free fall: America, free markets and the sinking of the world economy. New York: Norton.

Thompson, P. and Vincent, S. 2010. Labour process theory and critical realism. In: Working life: Renewing labour process analysis. Critical perspectives on work and employment. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, pp. 47-69.