The politics of knowledge, epistemological occlusion and Islamic management and organization knowledge

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Ul-Haq, S & Westwood, RI 2012, 'The politics of knowledge, epistemological occlusion and Islamic management and organization knowledge', Organization, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 229-257.

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This article argues that Islamic management and organization knowledge (MOK) is relatively under- and mis-represented in the literature. This conclusion is reached following a detailed literature survey and analysis which also examines some of the core representational practices used to account for Islam in the literature: the persistence of essentialism and orientalism; the disposition to refract instances of Islamic MOK through Northern lenses; and the tendency for some Southern scholars and institutions to become intellectually captive to the North’s knowledge system. We discuss this in the context of a politics of knowledge that bears on knowledge production and dissemination processes in MOK. This reveals continued intellectual and cultural imperialism, sustained Western hegemony, and the exclusionary practices of the North’s associated discourses and institutional frameworks that valorise and elevate Northern epistemology, theory and method, but devalues and marginalize alternatives. We argue that any neglect of Islam is unwarranted given (a) its global significance on a range of dimensions, (b) the particularities of its relations to the North—characterized by orientalism and Islamophobia and (c) the presence of a distinctive Islamic worldview, epistemology and ethics that informs practical action, including management and organization. This entails that an Islamic MOK offers prospects of an alternative or complement to the North’s orthodox perspective and is deserving of a proper voice in the literature. We conclude by offering practical suggestions for change.

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