Author: Armin Beverungen

Armin Beverungen is Junior Professor for Organisation in Digital Cultures at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, and has held previous research and teaching positions at the University of the West of England, Leuphana University and the University of Siegen. His research takes place at the interstices of media and organization studies, and is currently focused on the phenomenon of algorithmic management. His most recent publications include Markets (with Jens Schröter/Phil Mirowski/Edward Nik-Khak, meson press and University of Minnesota Press) and an edited issue of Organization on the theme of “the organizational powers of digital media” (with Lisa Conrad/Timon Beyes).

Picture by Mutant669 published under CC-BY-SA

Picture by Mutant669 licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA)

You may remember the debates that were sparked by a piece entitled ‚What are we to do with feral publishers?’ in the UK. This debate has now continued with a further position piece by the Leicester academics David Harvie, Geoff Lightfoot, Simon Lilley and Kenneth Weir written for the journal Prometheus entitled ‘Publishers, be damned! From price gouging to the open road’. The debate, consisting of the proposition piece and responses, including one written by myself, Steffen Böhm and Chris Land, is now published and available in open access. However, its story is rather remarkable, as is the outcome. Continue Reading…

As previously announced on this blog, the Hybrid Publishing Lab organised a panel discussion at last week’s Critical Management Studies (CMS) conference held in Manchester, UK. The aim of the discussion was to devise and multiply publishing strategies for CMS scholars – and we came up with four.

A little bit of background: CMS is the umbrella for much of the critical work that goes on primarily in business schools. For those outside of the business school, that often sounds like an oxymoron (critical business!?), but especially in the UK, and mostly due to the rise of business and management education, and the squeezing of the social sciences and humanities, the business school has become a refuge for a vast number of scholars who don’t simply want to provide knowledge for managers or bankers but question business practice and intervene in its education. Its institutional setting also makes the business school particularly interesting – on the one hand since it is often a cash cow for the university, with profits from its high volume teaching cross-subsidising other faculties; on the other hand because in the business school much of the dynamics around contemporary education and pedagogy – the financialisation of education, the nakedness of labour – becomes apparent, particularly in the encounter with the business student. For some reflections and entry points into this debate, see Stefano Harney’s piece in the zero issue of the edufactory journal or a discussion of the role of the business school in ephemera as well as an issue of ephemera discussing its role in the financial crisis.

This context is important for the discussion of publishing within CMS since there have been over many years debates about the political economy of academic publishing. Continue Reading…

Panel at 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, Manchester
Thursday 11th July 6.00-7.30pm, Room H1


Recently the debates regarding the potentials and pitfalls of open access publishing have become increasingly fierce in critical management studies, drawing much of their fervour from public discussion in response to the Finch report. So, for example, two contributions to a recent ‘speaking out’ section of Organization effectively called for the abandonment of commercial publishers in favour of alternatives such as university presses, scholarly associations and independent publishing. Especially the contribution by David Harvie et al. (2012) also caused a stir elsewhere, e.g. in the pages of the Times Higher Education (Lilley, 2012; see also Böhm, 2013), as well as on email lists such as the JISCM@il Critical-Management list, where amongst others the current editors of Organization, Robyn Thomas and Craig Prichard, outlined Organization’s position vis-à-vis their publisher, Sage.

Much of this discussion remains inconclusive and indecisive. Continue Reading…

There are some rumours floating around that Elsevier is in advanced talks to buy Mendeley. Mendeley, as most of you will know, is one of the new reference management softwares that includes social media elements, particularly through its online portal. A Wired article from 2011 provides a decent overview of its development, scope and potential. In the meantime, Mendeley has only grown, and now alongside ResearchGate and Zotero – the former focusing more on collaborative tools, the latter although including social elements a more classical reference and citation software – represents the exciting edge of what is happening in this field.  Continue Reading…

A recent article published by the Times Higher Education is causing quite a bit of discussion particularly amongst business and management scholars. The article, written by Professor Simon Lilley, who runs the School of Management at the University of Leicester, is based on a contribution – free to download – to a forum of the journal Organization on the future of journals. In that piece, Lilley and his colleagues David Harvie, Geoff Lightfoot and Kenneth Weir scrutinize the business practices of some for-profit academic publishers, with some shocking results. Informa plc, for example, moved to a tax haven in Switzerland, while still turning a large profit on sales of journals to publicly funded libraries. And the practices of large commercial publishers to sell journals in large bundles to libraries (who then get access to many journals they need but also many they might not) means that with squeezed budgets it is independent journals whose subscriptions are cancelled. On profitability, Lilley writes in the THE:

Few would disagree that commercial publishers should be able to cover their costs and reap some profit from their investment. The figures in their accounts, however, give pause for thought. We found companies enjoying profit margins as high as 53 per cent on academic publishing. That compares with 6.9 per cent for electricity utilities, 5.2 per cent for food suppliers and 2.5 per cent for newspapers.

The contribution to Organization ends with a plea to the editors to force Sage to lower subscription costs to to the journal. The discussion on the pages of THE and also on lists such as the Jiscmail list Critical-Management take up these discussion of strategy, with positions ranging from a call for a pledge from academics to not submit work or review for any journals from tax-dodging and profit-hungry publishers to a call for a collective action to dismantle the current publishing practices and establish new ones.

'The Cost of Knowledge' by Guilia Forsythe

Picture by Giulia Forsythe – licensed under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA 2.0)

There are perhaps two questions that impose themselves most immediately for anyone concerned with hybrid publishing and open access in particular: 1) with many commercial publishers establishing open access offerings, does this kind of research on their business practices not seriously undermine them as partners in a scholarly publishing landscape? And 2) what kind of strategies should academics adopt to challenge the excessive profits and dubious business practices of commercial publishers, and how can alternatives be established?