Driving conversations about decolonising concerns within management academia and practice was the aim of the recent Paper Development Workshop and Colloquium on Decolonising Management and Organisational Knowledge hosted by UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.
The two-day Colloquium, which featured a plenary discussion and a workshop and paper presentation session, was spearheaded by Associate Professor of Human Resources Management, Professor Shaun Ruggunan. ‘This event aims to start a broad based conversation about decoloniality: how it can feed into the curriculum and what we do on the ground,’ he said.
Keynote speaker, Dr William Mpofu, a researcher at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, and a founding member of the Africa Decolonial Research Network Knowledge, said that truly decolonised universities are those that are locally rooted but globally relevant, multilingual, diverse and put human value before capital.
‘When you drop the word “decoloniality” into a conversation, there is always discomfort because it is a philosophy that has lost its temper and demands liberation. Universities are cowardly places that don’t even live up to their “universitiness”. The only things that are important to us are how many papers we publish, how many conferences we attend, students we graduate, etc. Our jobs as academics are much more serious than that. Universities should be places where new knowledge is created – instead of citing already existing knowledge in literature reviews, where human value is not given a back seat to profit and academics, and managers listen and learn instead of referring to age and experience when someone comes with something new,’ he said.
Fellow discussants, the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta’s Associate Professor, organisational behaviour Professor Nimruji Prasad Jammulamadaka; and the Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s Associate Professor Kriben Pillay, shared their insights on decoloniality in the context of westernised universities.
In his address, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor in the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor Brian McArthur said: ‘The theme of Decolonising Management and Organisational Knowledge is highly relevant and contested in tertiary institutions today. Academic interrogation of the concepts of decoloniality and decolonising is critical but needs to be counter-balanced with practical applications to provide specificity and enable implementation.’
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Khumbulani Myeni