Canadian Management Knowledge Project: Dispersion, Equity, Identity and History

The following research, led by Principle Investigator Albert J. Mills, received funding in the amount of $182,035 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Resource Council of Canada in April 2013.


The overall objective of this study is to gain a greater understanding of how management knowledge in Canada is developed and what the implications are for:

  1. management education and the diversification and dissemination of ideas, 
  2. gender equity, and 
  3. Canadian identity and history in management theorizing. 

Drawing on insights from research on the sociology of knowledge, in which `knowledge' is viewed as socially constructed, we seek a greater understanding of the myriad of ways that knowledge is produced; how it comes into being, how it is sustained over time; what are some of the key outcomes of socially constructed knowledge. We are particularly interested in three areas of debate that reflect on knowledge production and social outcomes:

  1. Knowledge production: how do certain forms of (management) knowledge develop? Through greater understanding of the process we are better placed to understand/encourage/and disseminate diverse ideas or forms of knowledge; 
  2. The gendering of knowledge: how do certain forms of (management) knowledge become gendered (i.e., favour masculinity over femininity; maleness over femaleness, etc.)? By understanding some key processes through which knowledge comes to privilege men's ideas over those of women, and to privilege masculinity over femininity, we can identity more profound ways of addressing discriminatory practices;
  3. The relationship between knowledge and history: how is knowledge of the past created and how does this shape our understanding of management and organizational history (in Canada)? Here we are interested in examining the processes through which a history (or histories) of Canadian management thought is lacking and where US management thought appears to dominate Canadian management theorizing.

Anticipated contributions to knowledge include a greater understanding of the relationship between the social interactions and the socio-psychological sensemaking of actors and knowledge production. Thereby, making an important contribution to; 

  1. The sociology of knowledge and the micro processes, of knowledge production;
  2. Feminist theories of the gendering of knowledge; 
  3. The relationship between management theorizing and (the Canadian) context; encouraging a greater potential for histories of Canadian management thought; 
  4. The strengths and limitations of actor-network theory; Critical Sensemaking and ANTi-History
  5. Historiography in management and organization studies and detailed study not only of the contexts through which knowledge is developed but the potentially iterative processes of extant notions of the past and their production and reproduction in the creation and dissemination of knowledge. 

The Wider Potential Benefit of the Research:

-Other areas of research/disciplines: although focused on management the findings have relevance for communities of scholars across academe, with particular interest to management educators, feminist scholars, historians of ideas, and management historians.

-Outside the academic community: activists interested in discriminatory processes; educators with an interest in Canadian ideas and history; anyone with an interest in how to improve the dissemination and diversity of ideas. 

-How will the research be used and by whom: developing more diverse knowledge (educators); revealing the discriminatory processes of knowledge (feminists); utilizing greater strategies of knowledge dissemination (teachers; educators; scholars), adopting new techniques for studying knowledge and the past (historians; management theorists); and renewed analysis of the relationship between management ideas and knowledge of the past (management scholars).

The Research Team
Albert Mills, Principle Investigator

Albert J. Mills is the principal investigator and as such will lead the team. He is Professor of Management and Director of the Sobey PhD in Management at SMU. He will oversee the project as a whole, coordinate the various aspects involved, keep track of the budget, and take responsibility for expenditures. He will take an active and direct role in all aspects of the research, with particular interest in archival research, textual analysis, case study research, historiography and gender. He will be directly involved in training students in various methods. He is experienced in archival research, case study research, textual analysis, interviewing, observation techniques, feminist methodologies, and historiography and will play a key role in all of these areas of analysis; helping to train students in all areas: Albert is the author, co-author, and co- editor of over twenty books and special editions, including Sex, Strategy and the Stratosphere (2006) and Business Research Methods (2011). He is on several editorial boards, including Management & Organizational History, and an Associate Editor of Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management; Organization; and Gender, Work & Organization.

Jean Helms Mills, Co-Investigator

Jean Helms Mills (co-investigator) is Professor of Management in the Sobey School of Management at SMU. She will head a case study, co-ordinate archival research and take an active role and direct role in various aspects of the research, with particular interest in Critical Sensemaking and feminist analyses of text. She will be directly involved in training students in various methods: she currently supervises several PhD students and has served on the thesis committees of several others. She has considerable experience in archival research in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US and developed the Critical Sensemaking method for analysis of organizational processes. She is the author, co-author and co-editor of over ten books and special editions, including Making Sense of Organizational Change (Routledge, 2003) and Understanding Organizational Change (Routledge, 2008). She is on the editorial board of several journals, including Management & Organizational History, CJAS, Gender, Work & Organization (Associate Editor), Organization, and Equal Opportunities International.

Amy Thurlow, Co-Investigator

Amy Thurlow (co-investigator) is Associate Professor of Public Relations at MSVU, where she teaches public relations and business communications. Her research focuses on organizational communications and change. She will play a pivotal role in three key areas – communication, Critical Sensemaking, and feminist methodology, three areas where she had made important contributions. Her PhD Thesis (2007) helped to develop, the then emergent, Critical Sensemaking approach to organizational study. She has since written on critical sensemaking and change that links understanding of the social-psychological aspects of decision making to structural and discursive contexts. Amy will be in charge of all public relations aspects of the program, initiating interviews, handling communication with outside people, in charge of knowledge dissemination (including establishing a website for the project, disseminating findings to newspapers and other non- scholarly outlets. She is co-author with Helms Mills of Making Sense of Sense Making: The Critical Sensemaking Method. (2010) Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management. Volume (2). 182-195. as well as Change, Talk and Sensemaking (2013), in Albert J Mills & Gabrielle Durepos (Eds). Case Study Methods in Business Research, Sage: London.

Gabrielle Durepos, Co-Investigator
Gabrielle Durepos (co-investigator) is Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the School of Business at StFx., where she teaches Organizational Behaviour and Women in Management. She will play a pivotal role in all historiographic aspects of the research project, with particular interest in Actor Network Theory (ANT) and ANTi-HistoryHer PhD dissertation (2009) focused on developing an alternative approach to historiography – ANTi-History, which is now being taken up by scholars in the UK and the United States as well as Canada. She was awarded the Best Student Paper at the 2006 ASB conference, a Best Paper award at the 2010 AoM conference, and the 2010 Critical Management Studies Best Dissertation Award. She is a former associate editor for the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, and currently serves on the ASB Executive. She will play a leading role in training students in ANT and ANTi-History. She is experienced in archival research, interviews, observations, textbook analysis, actor-network theory and historiography. She is currently completing a study of the cultural production of history in Nova Scotia, involving extensive observations of sites and interviews with staff and clients of those cultural sites. She is the co-author of ANTi-History: Theorizing the Past, History, and Historiography in Management and Organizational Studies (2011) and the co-editor of the Sage Encyclopedia of Case Study Research (2010), and Case Study in Business Research (2012).
Patricia Genoe McLaren, Co-Investigator

Patricia Genoe McLaren (co-investigator) is an Assistant Professor in Leadership and Technology Management at WLU. She will head a case study and will be involved in all aspects of the research, with special interest in interviewing, observational techniques, and textual analysis. She is experienced in interviews, historiography, textbook analysis and critical hermeneutics. She will play a key role in these areas, in both research and the training of students. Her general research focus lies in the areas of management history in the context, including the development of the business school, leadership, and the management of professionals. Most of her research is from a critical perspective, mainly conducted using critical discourse analysis and critical hermeneutic analysis based on interview and archival data. Her current work includes critical discourse analyses of the societal discourse of leadership, leadership undergraduate education, and leadership development for women. She is also studying the history of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, and its struggle for organizational legitimacy. Trish has recent published in Management & Organizational History, the Journal of Management History, and the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.

Terrance Weatherbee, Co-Investigator

Terrance Weatherbee (co-investigator) is a Professor in the School of Business at Acadia University. His research focus includes the historiography of management thought, its evolution over time, and its relationship with the modern business school. His other main area of research is centered on the textbook, its role, place and use in the modern classroom, in light of technological changes, such as access to management information on the World Wide Web. He will play a leading role in the textual analysis of textbooks, and issues involving historiography. He is experienced in textual analysis, historiography, ethnostatistics, ANT and critical discourse analysis and will also play a key role in these areas. He will be directly involved in training students in textual analysis, historiography, and ethnostatistics. Terry ran the doctoral consortium of the Critical Management Studies Division of the AoM from 2004-08. He is the co-author of Organization Theory and Design (Pearson, 2006) and serves on the editorial board of CJAS.

Kristene Coller
Kristine Coller is a Research Assistant on the Canadian Management Knowledge Project