Dialectic in the Park
"Dialectic in the Park" is a name coined by Stefan Stern from the Financial Times for the “Humanising Work” symposium held in June 2008 at the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business at London Business School. It was organised by Professor Judy Wajcman, then Visiting Professor at the Centre, and Dr Elisabeth Kelan, the Centre's Senior Research Fellow.
The groundbreaking seminar attempted to expose business academics and practitioners to current research and knowledge in the social sciences and saw two talks by (Lord) Anthony Giddens and Richard Sennett. Stefan Stern from the Financial Times likened this event to an academic version of the Rumble in the Jungle and referred to it as the "Dialectic in the Park" - a reference to London Business School's Regent's Park campus. He authored several articles on the topic of "What sociologists can teach managers" discussing his impression that sociologists could help you run your company better than management gurus.
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The inspiration for the likening name under which this event is now known came from several aspects:
- The dialectic discourses outlined by the two organisers and showcased in the talks of Giddens and Sennett are not commonly found in business studies and broke new intellectual ground at Regent's Park where London Business School is located.
- The setting effectively put successful management gurus in the audience vis-à-vis prominent social scientists at the lectern.
- Disciplinary permeability and acceptance between the social sciences and business studies (despite the latter technically being a sub-category of it) is still relatively rare and - as Stefan Stern discussed - evokes new horizons for both theorists and practitioners, with benefits for real-world management and business administration.
- Both the organisers and speakers have a strong academic connection to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), with which London Business School sees itself in rivalry. This tension gets occasionally complicated by the popular belief that London Business School is actually the business school department of the LSE. In fact, both are two distinct universities.
- Stern, Stefan (2008-06-20). "What sociologists can teach managers". Management Blog. FT.com. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
- Crainer, Stuart (2008-01-23). "Business benefits from a more disciplined approach". TimesOnline. London. Retrieved 2008-10-11.