The influence of neoliberalism and its absence in management research
Journal article, 2014
Purpose – The paper aims to address the recent debate over the “relevance lost” of business school
research and points to the establishment of neoliberal economic policy during the past three decades as
an example of social change that has not been thoroughly theorized in business school research.
Design/methodology/approach – The literature on neoliberalism is reviewed and, more
specifically, its implications for the financialization of industry and the widespread use of financial
theory in corporate governance. The paper outlines some of the consequences of neoliberalism, pointing
out the connections between the growth of the finance industry and the 2008 financial crisis.
Findings – The paper demonstrates that the financialization of industry and the institutionalization of
finance theory, as the guiding corporate governance model used in the new millennium, have led to a
concentration of capital in the finance industry. As a consequence, other productive investments have
been postponed. Despite such shifts in corporate governance and economic policy more broadly,
neoliberalism is a relatively marginal topic of discussion in business school research.
Social implications – The study stresses the need for broadening the scope of business school
research and addressing more long-term institutional changes in economic policy and corporate
Originality/value – The paper emphasizes the need, not only for promoting practitioner relevance in
business school research, but also for enacting an ambitious research agenda of broader social
The 2008 financial crisis
Business school research