This presentation is a response to the call of this conference to embrace difference.
Difference is more than simply a driver or inhibitor of creativity, it is the elementary source of all information. It defines us and is often how we define ourselves. In humans difference is embedded in the act of perception, yet we rarely stop to understand the nature of difference as an idea. This talk argues that difference is the basic building block of knowledge, but its properties are often overlooked, misunderstood or ignored.
Embracing Difference means understanding it, and this involves a shift in seeing. Social science, which here includes management learning and education, has struggled to reconcile varying perspectives between disciplines, between methodologies, and between individual researchers. “Difference” has generally become a synonym for “disagreement”. This will not do, as it does not address the complexity of issues we face or the multidisciplinary response required.
This presentation uses the context of post-experience management learning in a European Business School to illustrate some of the problems and pitfalls of difference, as well as the tremendous potential of an awareness of its true nature. It will propose three fundamental, universal properties of difference; zero-dimension, inter-connectivity and generativity. These form a conceptual framework for multidisciplinary researchers and practitioners to re-evaluate their perceptions and dialogue.
Chris is Associate Professor of Management Learning and Leadership at Henley Business School at the University of Reading in the UK.
A dynamic and creative tutor and facilitator, Chris joined Henley in November 2005 and until 2010 was the Programme Director for Henley Distance Learning MBA (Flexible Learning), a course with over 2,500 executives enrolled worldwide.
Chris has over 26 years of experience in management education and training. Before coming to Henley, he worked at the Central European University Business School (and its predecessor, the International Management Center) in Budapest, Hungary, where his posts included Director of their full-time and modular MBA program (part of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, USA). Chris teaches on the Executive MBA and runs corporate workshops and seminars related to management development in many parts of the world, including South Africa, central Europe and the Middle East. A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), Chris holds a PhD in Management Learning and Leadership from Lancaster University, and an MBA from Henley. His research is focused on the use of Reflection in Personal Development in post-experience Management Education.
His first book, The Every Day MBA, was published at the beginning of 2015 and his second, Brilliant Business Strategy for Business, released in February 2016. A second edition of the MBA book, re-titled MBA Day by Day, was published in September 2019. Chris was visiting professor at Soka University in Japan 2018-19, where he was on a year-long sabbatical devoted to writing and research, and is also visiting Professor of Foundations of Management at Cotrugli Business School, Croatia. He is currently writing a book on leadership and personal development in management, to be published at the end of 2020.