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Learning from Alternatives and Alternative Ways of Knowing

Apr 14, 2023 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm AEST
The University of Sydney


Leanne Cutcher is Professor of Management and Organisation Studies at the University of Sydney Business School.  Leanne's research studies organisational discourses and practices and how they impact equity and inclusion for organizations, the people who work in them and the wider communities in which they are embedded.  She has conducted this research in a wide range of organisational contexts including both the for-profit and not-profit sectors. This research has been published in leading, international journals.  Leanne was awarded the 2022 International Federation of Scholarly Association of Management, 'Excellence in Indigenous Management Scholarship' Award. Leanne's research into Indigenous-owned community organizations has been funded by a 2023 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant.


Indigenous community-owned organizations and cooperatives can both be described as alternative forms of organization.  Co-operatives and mutuals have been described as a sort of communitarianism or collectivism, in which individuals are tied to others through a variety of economic and social links (Parker, Fournier & Reedy, 2007). Indigenous community-owned organizations do not fit neatly into dominant systems of (economic) value as they seek to meet the social and financial needs of their communities while honoring culture and kinship (Altman et al., 2012).

Both forms of organizations cannot be 'read' through dominant management concepts because they are seeking to offer an alternative to mainstream, capitalist forms of organisation (Banerjee & Linstead, 2004). It follows then that when we study such organization, we need to be open to alternative ways of knowing and alternative methodologies (Bartlett, et al 2012).  If we can do this our research might inspire novel ideas about organizations and challenge prevailing notions, making way for alternative theories of organization (Love 2020).

In this presentation, I will share my experience of partnering with Traditional Credit Union, Australia's only Indigenous-owned financial services organization to reflect on how I needed to recognise the limitations of my prior understanding, be open to new knowledges and alternative ways of theorizing.