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Reading “Canadian” management in context: development of English and French education

Rene Arseneault (Department of Management, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
Nicholous M. Deal (Department of Management, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
Albert J. Mills (Department of Management, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 28 February 2019

Issue publication date: 24 April 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the pluralist contours of Canadian management “knowledge” using the discourse “official” bilingualism – the English and French languages – to understand the impact of socio-historical-political differences on the development of management knowledge production.


Drawing upon an archival collection of management textbooks as historical data, the authors critically explore and analyze the development of Canadian “schools” and management theory. Using narrative analysis and critical hermeneutics, the paper considers the socio-historical-political context of the various “Canadian” scholars that sought to establish a unique business academy distinct but paradoxically akin to the management schools in the USA.


Mirroring the struggle of Francophones in a dominant English imperative, French management textbooks appeared decades later than English titles. When French texts began to disseminate, it remained in the shadows of American management ideologies.

Research limitations/implications

As only Canadian organizational behavior texts published within the previous 50 years were used as data in this study, it may be incautious to draw broader conclusions. The empirical element of this research relied upon convenience sampling of textbooks.

Practical implications

Management educators weld a considered level of socio-political power that they may or may not knowingly possess, especially in terms of selecting a textbook and other course materials. Regardless of background, management students are somewhat a “tabula rasa;” open to learning new content to make sense of the world. This “open state” places a great deal of responsibility on the professorate in shaping management students’ theoretical understanding of everyday life in organizations. The authors suggest practitioners be reflexive, aware of how textbooks serve as an important vehicle in education that in times past, have promoted or reified mono-cultural agendas.


The research in this paper builds on recent research that considers the role of socio-historical-political context in how management knowledge and theory is performed, as well as contributes to understanding textbooks in how they may shape a pluralist account of Canadian management “knowledge”.



Arseneault, R., Deal, N.M. and Mills, A.J. (2019), "Reading “Canadian” management in context: development of English and French education", Journal of Management History, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 180-202.



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