Editer l'article Suivre ce blog Administration + Créer mon blog






Denis Cristol. Ph D. Continuing education manager Advancia Négocia and member of CREF *

* University of Paris Ouest Nanterre

CREF (EA 1589)

200 Avenue of the Republic

Nanterre Cedex - 92001





This paper is a critique of the didactic methods currently being used by management educators in France. The introductory part explains the state of the art practices in French management education, highlighting its need for providing life-long education to managers and its struggle to integrates the demands and requirements of its three constituents namely : the practicing world, the management educators, and the corporate management development systems. The body part that follow the introduction has threee parts.

Part 1 outlines the limits of education in management and the consequences thereof.

Part 2 describes what would be a critical view of management education.

Part 3 introduce the concept of reflexivity and explains how the process of reflecting on one’s own abilities coulf help in correcting the errors as and when they occur.

The concluding part recommends specific actions for the use of ‘reflexivity’ in improving the teaching of management especially by focusing it on objectives and expected outcomes of management education.


1. The managerial problems of the educational continuum

Management learning is a juxtaposition of three different world. Three interpenetrating worlds that are visible : management education, management development, and managerial practices. One risk of this situation stems from a juxtaposition and the creation of communities of discourse and practices that do not articulate together. Currently a discipline ‘management learning '(Burgoyne and Reynolds 2006) is set up to give meaning to learning scattered in various situations. The world of management education practices can be observed in higher education (Garel and Godelier 2004). It is characterized by a desire to organize the education of future managers and prepare them individually in advance for their future duties. The world of management development obeys diffuse purposes since many actors at the company are concerned to develop the management and managers. They are acting on a variety of levers such as quarries (Glee and Roger 2008), organizations, environment design, structure or learning project (Dufour and Plompen 2006). Moreover training inter-or intra-enterprise (Bellier-Michel 1997) constitutes a field of training widely practiced in France.

As the world of management practice is that of life within the company, placing the learner in confrontation with real problems is a strong opportunity to develop his skills.


The illustrations of the educational continuum are based on follow-depth interviews with sales managers who have followed different paths to achieve a leadership position. The illustrations show the impact of environments and individual dynamics in learning sales management.


The first illustration is that of a sales manager of 46 years in an industrial enterprise. This is the path of an heir within the meaning of Bourdieu. Fairly quickly in his family, he has the opportunity to meet with business leaders serving as its model. He had the opportunity during trips to be in contact with foreign cultures. Topics of interest in the family to educate the world view of business. It is quite naturally driven by the ambition of his parents that he makes a career in higher education. Once integrated, the school is a new contact with life, an openness to the world. The experience of sport and physical performance is serious in its model for success. This is followed by internships, departures abroad, development of a language, associational activities where it is testing teamwork. The first full-scale projects stimulate the imagination. In the course without a hitch vision of leadership is still theoretical. It will quickly rub situations of life. He joined as head of an international sales. It's an imitation of a boss that must be met, the conformation of predefined roles that provide the first benchmarks. After this first experience follows a steady increase in organizational careers.


The second illustration is that of a manager aged 47 stocks in the distribution of food commodities. His remarkable experience takes place within a continuing education program. It was not long studiing in a prestigious school. Managerial practice has just been raised during his studies. After a first part of a career where he learned the skills of the seller, he was spotted in his company by a mentor for his consistent performance and demonstrated potential. Changes in function and scope contribute to its professionalization. It accesses continuing education programs and enjoys coaching. In this course events and professional situations encountered scored his representations of leadership. Teams do not vest immediately, it came to convincing lead, to put themselves in service to others to advance shared objectives. Each level is related to climbing performance. Leadership is built gradually.


The journey of a commercial manager in the business of insurance exclusively from the ground is the third illustration. After many hesitations vocations in sport, politics and even acting, it stabilizes its interests. Step-father motivates him to hang a diploma from the first level of a little-known school. An unexpected encounter opens the door to an insurance company. Encouraged by this initial success it feeds the other. Marked by exemplary figures, of clients or managers, he takes pleasure in his profession. He knows of the successes and failures. The reflexion about his weaknesses were its main point to learn. He builds a working method on itself and deduces a means of understanding others. With time and practice, by trial and error, success eventually become dominant. The talent was shaped, making him 36 years the boss of a sales force of several hundred employees. By dint of curiosity, he has gleaned the skills necessary to cope with the variety of situations encountered. He created an original vision of leadership. He invested in what was a unique approach. This singularity attracts the members of its teams and the recognition from his leadership.


What we give to see these three illustrations, is how a relationship with knowledge is taking place in close connection with the identity of the manager, identity for himself or attributed identity. The trajectory of the manager works closely with their life choices and their way of understanding leadership. In particular educational environments in which managers are seeking plunged differently. If these three sales managers have shared high disjunction observed in the three worlds of management mentioned. While life experience is essential, the socialization of managers is proving a key factor, the educational models of initial education take into account the differences in provision and are focused on academic knowledge, continuing education operates as remedial the experiences of life remain uncertain. The table to follow shows the impact of the educational continuum in terms of managerial identities, relationship to knowledge and learning approach encountered.


managers, managerial learning, reflexivity



Higher Education



internal promotion






Career Path


Organizational path


Technical expertise


Tribulations and uncertainties




Identity is assigned by compliance of role (Proof of the potential early and speculative)


Identity confirmed by the accession process (must demonstrate by its results)


Identity of self doubt (Living proof to confront a normed reference)


Relation to knowledge


Knowledge is classified, institutionalized, it must meet standards of restitution


Knowledge is utilitarian and practical, it is used to be noticed and to positionate


knowledge is intimate it fulfills a personal challenge


Learning approach


epistemological content


socio-professional adaptation


psychological self-development


Anticipated way in becoming a manager


To be a manager is innate


To be a manager is the result of a learning


To be a manager is the result of meetings



Figure 1 : Identity and relation to knowledge


These career path are embedded in models of management education. If we take the ranking of models for management education identified for the U.S. proposed by Bolden (2007) which are available in Academic liberalism, liberalism Experiential, Experiential vocationalism, Experiential critical, French practices in schools would focus on both first models. The first one is based on a presupposition of scientific management and acquisition of concepts and theories through case study and experimentation. The second one is the development of the reflective practitioner (Schön 1994) through group work and personal development work. The third model seeks to develop interpersonal skills in line with the organizations. The fourth model aims to empower managers and help them to dare thinking critically. However, France was struggling to use a critical view, which would result in preference to formal channels of access to managerial positions and to exclude the recognition of managerial knowledge acquired by experience. Bellier-Michel (1997 p73) notes that management training can be regarded as performing a function of adherence to values and beliefs of the business and enhancing the feeling of belonging to a class by itself. In this set from the educational function is often put forward but still the bare minimum. What is at stake in training is more about the relationship between the manager and the organization. Everything happens as if the training was a way to make connections and identities oriented productive purposes. Everything happens as if still in management education was the involvement of managers by the inculcation of so doing, thinking, feeling, how to read the world, how to interact with others or ourselves, so to transform the everyday into the details, manner of dressing, attempts to fashion a body hexis legitimate (Bourdieu 1979). ‘So many ways so that, by a manipulation of self (the way) including an important control affects), fuel compared to the other (future manager) to act on it in purpose’ says Roussel (2004 Livian p51). However, when managers are exclusively equipped with a vision tool, they are hard pressed to lead teams (Robin 1994, Mintzberg 2005). Learning management and leadership carried out in a room is a method of teaching decontextualized chick taking account the complexity of situations and even inhibits a report to its own experience, ‘bad theories eventually destroy the good practices’ (Ghoshal 2005).


2. Critical analysis of pedagogical approaches

2.1 The critique of the initial training

If in France all practices observed at the sites of the 37 business schools from the ‘conference of the grande école’ or their brochures give an impression of richness and diversity. They seem able to adapt to different learning styles, their contexts of implementation implemented and the objectives pursued would compromise their effectiveness. Lessons current management value the abstract conceptualization and have a limited scope for several reasons. First of all higher education provision in a management school is poorly exploited (Laroche, 2007 p57). The latency between the end of the training of students and influence on management practices would be 2 to 10 years. The proximity to the practice and practitioners is therefore essential (Mintzberg 2005). The taking of distance and reflection prove essential terms of learning management. ‘The critical part of the trial of education must be extended to the maximum .... [But] .... It is important to find a form of reconciliation that allows the critical distance to practice without posing a threat to the future ‘(Laroche 2007). Laufer (HEC 1994 P284) tries to reconcile an existential definition of management ‘Management is not what professors say management, this is just abstract theory and unusable’ with a definition technician. From today's perspective the management would be that learning a language administration. The reconciliation of the teachings and practices require that teachers researchers in management ‘are starting to take education seriously’ (Hendry 2006 p279). Too often it seems that teaching management techniques focus on the relationship of master to transfer students, and even enhanced by teaching tricks is coincident with the development of the human dimension of the managers. Therefore with regard to this purpose the implementation of educational practices is inadequate and could be affected by the objectives pursued by both the school (increased awareness, rising in the rankings, search for profit), by students (choice of a label, acquire a culture), even those teachers (pedagogical commitment, career ambitions, reference mono-discipline). Like what has been stated, one of the modes identified confronting the learner with the complexity of the undertaking is the organization linked training which requires constructing meaning. When it exists, alternating conceived as a means of cross-fertilization times and places of learning allows a consideration of human problems (Angot, Malloch Kleymann 2008, Hahn, Alexandre-Bailly, Geay, Vignon, 2008). The integration of a larger inquiry into learning, the approach to joint construction projects between the company, the future manager and the team are learning how to respond to identified critical partitioning spaces (Pougnet, Laizé, Lemmet 2009). This approach however requires a membership of actors beyond the place of a syllabus.


2.2 The critique of training

As regards training, the main criticism of the training focuses on the low consideration of individual temporalities. What characterizes the training is mostly in terms of knowledge transfer in face to face in a room outside of company time with a profusion of practices, methods and tools available. The implicit reference to a particular model of training is based on the triptych structure / objective / program, it offers the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with multi corollary cross-pollination or propagation models. Although there is a multiplicity of approaches used to boost training, for example: the practice of sponsorship, internship, co-training, project-based learning, learning through research, civic projects or social, cultural immersion, institutional pedagogy, cross observations, mentoring, etc.. courses identified in the presence of an instructor, courses remain popular among makers of business formation (CEGOS / Echoes 2008). Worse, in terms of content 3 reviews are established by Baron (2009) on the modality of training, first the slow penetration of new ideas and scientifically validated research-based, second approximations of the concepts introduced, including the scientific legitimacy seems weakly sought in the corporate world, the overvaluation of the third-page format (Format?), most often at the expense of power point thinking more built but requiring more effort of ownership. Three phenomena that give way to ideas convenient, approximate but practical use is valued. The observation of more specific management education of men, as deciphered in the course offerings, reveals a centering on the manager and his relationship with the acquisition of technical methods and tools to dominate, control, motivate another. In each of these meanings is placed in another object that is moving in the direction desired by the organization, starting with an intention of personal development (Brunel 2004). Taking the example of leadership learning, the panorama in 43 catalogs of French courses in 2008 identifies formulas 2 to 8 days, the promise is expressed in the titles of courses: ‘analyze and develop leadership, ‘‘ be a leader of yourself, ‘‘ be the leader of his teams, ‘‘ be a leader in action, ‘‘ be the leader of multi-cultural ‘state leadership’ to fully exercise its leadership role ‘ , ‘4 Roles of Leadership’, ‘build and develop your leadership,’ ‘expand its leadership relational leadership and authority’ to develop its leadership: at the center of the collective energy and the emergence, ‘the two dimensions of leadership and management styles of Hersey and Blanchard ‘,’ leadership project leader. ‘ The programs carry with them a global moral and adaptive economy. They escamotent the question of empathy, the gift or understanding of their social environment. They prefer instead a self-engineering as an object more than a job consisting of ethical experience oneself, identify its limitations and be built by subject (Ehrenberg 1991, Ebguy 2008). Both the initial training of management training that meet the technical standards of behavior expected, rather they help to make people think. Another perspective develops.


3. Develop a critical view of management education

Chia (Armstrong and Fukami 2009 p25-41) argues the importance of changing the educational priorities to enhance the entrepreneurial imagination. To exit solutions conformist he is disposing of teaching analytical skills for problem solving and to cultivate a mentality paradigm shift. Cunliffe, Forray and Knights (2002), part of a critical questioning of management practices prevailing social and intellectual. They argue that the purposes of business schools take over the legitimacy of elite production line managers. The challenge is for them to help managers be more critical in a profession does not lead spontaneously to be. To do this, they encourage educators to take some distance on what they teach and how to do it. Which requires greater reflection on their part ‘this stanza Requires a degree of self-reflexivity On Our Own hand, for how Can We Ask Our Students to Be Moral Practitioners and critical if we are not? ‘Cunliffe, et al. (2002 P494). Duarte (2009) specifies what must be reflexive skills. These are based on the sociological imagination that encourages contextualization of organizational phenomena. Critical thinking allows her to use reason and not only to understand the historical origins of a phenomenon or organizational. Duarte includes reflection as a cognitive process to use past experience to imagine new situations, establish connections to have insights, make connections and make fair decisions. Critical thinking allows to go beyond the obvious facts appearing or all suggestions made. Reflexivity describes the activity of empowerment (empowerment) to a situation, making each one responsible for what he saw. These issues highlighting pedagogical ways of thinking for yourself call more humanity, collaboration and ethics in management.


4. Selection practices stimulating learning

There is not currently in France which would be about a ‘managerial educational’ within the meaning of a set of theories and methods to teach management in line with specific managerial knowledge. Read the training proposals in the catalogs of specialized agencies and school boards, everything is potentially a vehicle for learning the duties of manager. An effort of temporality and finalization methods could be undertaken to identify the potential contributions of each at the right time of the educational continuum. To take one example, is it not unreasonable to ask a student to a twenty year to project himself into the leadership role of multinational business in a briefcase? But similar observations could be made for experienced managers handed on to school regardless of their experience. A didactic managerial could look to the purposes of managerial learning in terms of moments in the life of the individual. It will articulate methods in an educational continuum, and finally encourage the modalities of capacity building managers to learn from situations. The didactic managerial purposes would create stimulating learning environments in which the individual could fully commit himself beyond the only cognitive approach. We propose to classify the learning environments based on the stimulation they provide, engagement in learning sought, the nature of knowledge engaged and postures that enable the learner.



Learning commitment


Nature of knowledge


Learners postures




Knowledge oriented theoretical and cognitive content


agent of a learning process the learner interprets the world


Cognitive and physical


Knowledge oriented toward relationship and physical involvement


Physicaly engaged in action, the learner becomes an actor


Cognitive, physical and emotional


Knowledge inhabited, acted, and incorporated


Taking into consideration his feelings the learner becomes a subject


Cognitive, physical action, emotional and identity projection


Ontological knowledge


Builder of its knowledge the learner becomes an author and convene its identity





Figure 2 : Stimulation of learning environments and learners posture


This table describe how a learning environment would act in the same time the dimensions of learning (cognitive, physical, emotional and identity), the nature of knowledge (theoretical, action, incorporated and ontological) and postures (agent, actor, subject and author). This is looking out on the action by the learner who changed the direction of its relationship to knowledge. This change in relationship to knowledge accompanies a managerial maturity. The manager attributes more meaning to the situations he encounter. This maturity is possible by increasing reflexivity. For, as said Schön (1994 p97) ‘When someone reflects on the action, he becomes a researcher in a practice setting. It does not depend on categories derived from theory and technique predetermined but he builds a new theory of the case. ‘ Learning to learn should be an ingredient in any engineering training, to give access to managers greater autonomy in their conquest of new fields of knowledge. This proposal reflects the culture of learnance advocated by Carré (2005). It can be satisfied by the development and improvement of the reflexive dimension of learning in the management programme designed. It further urges self-direction in learning guaranteeing greater empowerment (Cunliffe 2004). To achieve this objective Gray (2007 p500-503) offers exposure to processes such as storytelling, conversation or reflective tools such as reflexive metaphors, the study of critical incidents, keeping reflective journals, the grids diagnosis, the ‘concept mapping. It follows from these remarks the need for more room to reflexivity in teaching. It needs certainly less to dwell on the solutions to be found in a management discipline (marketing, finance etc..) as the aims, status and issues more complex and interwoven to build for the future.


5. Conclusion

Too often the work is managerial naturalized. Here's how Bellier-Michel (1997 p19) characterizes a common belief: ‘We do not make a manager you are or you are not a manager, it's about personality, temperament.’ We suggest several areas to create a managerial learning. Firstly it would specify the managerial knowledge in complexity beyond the single variation in management discipline. It would then be taken to establish benchmarks, not only cognitive but also physical, emotional and identity, to assist each recipient in the function to be in a development course. In the posture agent is a learning process, it should articulate the educational continuum and propose different targets for different types of educational experiences encountered. To develop the actor is to recognize the commitments in the Action. Indeed, the managerial dimension requires social recognition and may be more strongly marked by the creation of ritual: first team, first managerial position, the first participation in steering committee. Taking into account emotional convene by the learner's subjective topic, involvement and teaching methods than rationality alone utterance. Finally, the managerial function deserves a development of reflective practices to grow a conscience of his managerial relationship with oneself. To create a position of author, these identity resources to work in a learning discernment, ie answer the questions what being a manager? Which manager would you be? In summary, we must take into account social and environmental purposes and not exclusively economic. Personal experience is often overlooked in training programmes, but essential in terms of practices. It is therefore necessary to articulate the formal and informal learning, which involves developing pedagogies of experience, the alternation of the project, mission or training. Open learning arrangements to other knowledge as those of education led to depart from the logic in favor of vertical horizontal logic of knowledge. This requires a way of looking at the nature of managerial knowledge to develop them. Rather than teach the problems and solutions, will be applied to teaching managerial build flexible learning environment, labile to the extent the provisions of learners rather than the light of knowledge of trainers.


6. References and Bibliography


Angot, J. Malloch, H. Kleymann, B. (2008), The formation of professional identity in french apprentis managers, Education + Training, vol 50, n°5, p406-422.

Armstrong, S. Fukami, C. (2009), The SAGE Handbook of Management Learning, Education and Development

London : SAGE Publications.

Bolden, R. (2007), Trends and Perspectives in Management and Leadership Development, Business Leadership Review IV:II

Bourdieu, P. (1979), La distinction : critique sociale du jugement, Paris : Les Editions de minuit.

Brunel, V. (2004) Les managers de l’âme : le développement personnel en entreprise, nouvelle pratique du pouvoir ? Paris : La découverte.

Carré, P. (2005), L’apprenance : Vers un nouveau rapport au savoir, Paris : Dunod.

Cunliffe, A. (2004), On becoming a critically reflexive practioner, Journal of management education, 28, 4  California state university, Hayward.

Cunliffe, A. Forray, J. Knights, D. (2002), Considering management education : insights from critical management studies. Journal of management education. Volume 26, n°5. p489-495.

Duarte, F. (2009), Rekindling the sociological imagination as a pedagogical ‘ package ’ in management education.

Journal of management education. Volume 33, n°1. p59-76.

Baron, X. (2009), Usages sociaux des recherches sur les cadres. Colloque, Les cadres : heurts et malheurs d’une catégorie, GDR-cadres, 30-31 janvier, Paris.

Bellier-Michel, S. (1997), Modes et légendes au pays du management, Paris : Vuibert.

Dufour, B. Plompen, M. (2006), Les meilleures pratiques du développement des dirigeants, Paris : Les éditions d’organisation.

Ebguy, R. (2008), Je hais le développement personnel ! Paris : Eyrolles.

Ehrenberg, A. (1991), Le culte de la performance, Paris : Calman Lévy.

Garel, G. Godelier, E. (2004), Enseigner le management : méthodes, institutions, mondialisation, Paris : Hermès Lavoisier.

Ghoshal, S. (2005), Bad management theories are destroying good management practices, Academy of management learning and education, vol 4, n°1, 75-91.

Glée, C. Roger, A. (2008), Trajectoire de carrières des managers et apprentissages informels, Personnel, n°492 septembre, Paris.

Gray, D. (2007), Facilitating management learning : developing critical reflection through reflective tool, Management learning ; nov 2007 ; 38,5 p495-517.

Hahn, C. Alexandre-Bailly, F. Geay, A. Vignon, C. (2008), Former les managers : quand l'alternance s'invite au débat, Paris : Vuibert.

HEC. (1994), L’école des managers de demain.

Paris : Economica.Laroche, H. (2007), Les relations incertaines entre pratiques et enseignements, L’éducation au management face aux défis du XXI éme siècle, Revue Française de Gestion, Hermès-Lavoisier.

Hendry, J. (2006), Educating managers for post-bureaucracy : the role of the humanities, Management learning, vol 37, n°3.

Livian, YF. (2004), Ce que font les cadres, actes de la journée du 8 décembre 2003, Les cahiers du GDR-Cadres, 2004-6, IAE de Lyon, Lyon.

Mintzberg, H. (2005), Des managers des vrais ! pas des MBA, Paris : Les éditions d’organisation. Pougnet, S. Laize, C. Lemmet, LC. (2009), Proposition d’un dispositif prospectif de co-construction des compétences des managers de demain in Colloque académique ESSEC, 16 mars 2009, La prospective au service du management et de la GRH, Cergy Pontoise.

Robin, JY. (1994), Radioscopie de cadres : itinéraires et biographie éducative, Paris : L’harmattan.

Schön, DA. (1994), Le praticien réflexif : À la recherche du savoir caché dans l'agir professionnel, Montréal : Editions Logiques.

Pour être informé des derniers articles, inscrivez vous :
Commenter cet article