Creating an organization in the classroom: Students living management theories in action

Elyssebeth Leigh*, Anne Herbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Socially responsible work and business formats are changing rapidly and unpredictably, while higher education methods remain relatively stable (Herbert & Leigh, Mikkeli learning managers: Manual for courses on introduction to management. FutureSearch, 2018). The thesis of this chapter is that traditional forms of management education no longer prepare students adequately for social change. A new paradigm is needed to challenge received wisdom concerning the relative importance of “content” and “process” knowledge, and the chapter proposes a rearrangement of priorities. The authors argue that responsible management of twenty-first century complex adaptive systems (Lansing, Annual Review of Anthropology, 32, 183–204, 2003) is most effectively studied through immersion in an experiential learning environment that replicates this type of knowledge domain (Snowden & Boone, Harvard Business Review, 85(11), 69–76, 2007). The chapter explores how students and staff together can create such an environment and experience something of the complexity and sometimes near-chaos of contemporary business and social contexts. Simulation of a “classroom as organization” (CAO) can create a living, coherent environment in which students interpret their behavior in terms of management precepts—including corporate social responsibility and ethics. As a learning method for management education, CAO contributes to the preparation of socially responsible managers by mirroring real-life organizational and institutional values and practices. It reflects how tasks and relationships, words and actions, can create trust or suspicion, and support or harm business activity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeeting Expectations in Management Education
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Environmental Pressures on Managerial Behaviour
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319764122
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • Management education
  • classroom as organization
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Managerial social responsibility

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