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Decoloniality, geopolitics of knowledge and

historic turn: towards a Latin American agenda

Sergio Wanderley & Amon Barros

To cite this article: Sergio Wanderley & Amon Barros (2018): Decoloniality, geopolitics of
knowledge and historic turn: towards a Latin American agenda, Management & Organizational
History, DOI: 10.1080/17449359.2018.1431551

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Published online: 30 Jan 2018.

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Management & Organizational History, 2018

Decoloniality, geopolitics of knowledge and historic turn:

towards a Latin American agenda
Sergio Wanderleya and Amon Barrosb
Unigranrio - Management Graduate Program, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; bEAESP/FGV - Management Graduate
Program, São Paulo, Brasil

In this paper, we explore how a decolonial framework can inform Decoloniality; Geopolitics
management and organizational knowledge (MOK) with the objective of Knowledge; Historic Turn:
of fostering a decolonized historic turn (HT) agenda from Latin Latin America
America. MOK and the HT are demarcated by the predominance of
Anglo-Saxon knowledge in which time fosters a colonizing effect. The
HT has not promoted the inclusion of authors, theories, concepts,
objects, and themes from other geographies. Hence, we have to
make use of geopolitics of knowledge to reintroduce space and to
deloconize the HT agenda. We believe that it is by exploring the (dis)
encounters of the external and the internal sides of the border, in a
double consciousness exercise, that we may foster a more plural field
of MOK and a richer HT agenda. From this space of diverse epistemic
encounter from both sides of the border, it would be possible to
recognize and value what has been produced from the colonial
difference, not as expressions of exoticism, but as relevant critical
forms of knowledge produced and lived from the perspective of
different histories and traditions. More than claims of purism, concepts
of anthropophagy and sociological reduction may indicate that Latin
America great virtue may be represented by its ability to adapt foreign
knowledge to local reality generating something new without letting
itself being catechized nor becoming a mimicry copy of the colonizer.

There is an unquestionable hegemony in the production and dissemination of management
and organizational knowledge (MOK) exerted by researchers and institutions based in the
Anglo-Saxon world whose objects of investigation and privileged audiences are in the Global
North (Jack et al., 2011). The understanding of this academic field in its current form cannot
ignore the agenda of producing and exporting US managerial knowledge to other parts of
the world. There is also a need to consider the process in which other countries actively
import this knowledge, which results in distinct effects in each country, although there are
some similarities among them (Üsdiken and Wasti 2009; Alcadipani and Bertero 2012; Barros
and Carrieri 2013). These dynamics have been increasingly influenced since World War II, not
only by the flow of ideas but also by US economic dominance (Westwood and Jack 2008).

CONTACT  Sergio Wanderley

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Although Europe is not homogeneous, European authors are also in a position of domi-
nance in comparison to people from other continents such as Latin America and Africa
(Murphy and Zhu 2012). In many ways, MOK can be seen as an expression of colonialism,
which is also reproduced in and reinforced by the institutional spaces that people from the
margins can occupy (Misoczky 2011). MOK cannot be seen as a neutral tool that can serve
any purpose (Ibarra-Colado 2006), and it has to be to be understood in its geopolitical per-
spective, since theory is influenced by location (Escobar 2011; Lander 2011).
In this sense, this paper aims to discuss a specific theoretical movement that we believe
can offer many ways of broadening debates in MOK: the historic turn (HT). However, we
want to discuss it from a perspective of geopolitics of knowledge in order to challenge the
persistence of Anglo-Saxon models in the construction of knowledge (Mignolo 2011).
Geopolitics of knowledge is a concept from the modernity/coloniality/decoloniality project
fostered by Latin American scholars (Dussel, 1993; Quijano 2000; Ibarra-Colado 2006; Escobar
2011; Mignolo 2011) which we wish to mobilize in search of a more plural MOK.
From a perspective of geopolitics of knowledge (Mignolo 2011), we should ask ourselves
whether the dominance of Anglo-Saxon knowledge has become any different with the
introduction of the HT in MOK. We should discuss whether the HT has opened space for the
introduction of theories, authors, concepts, objects, and themes from other spaces as well.
Therefore, in this paper, we explore how a decolonial framework can inform MOK with the
objective of fostering a decolonized HT agenda from Latin America. Being Brazilians, the
authors of this paper are concerned first and foremost with Brazil, rather than Latin America,
even though the subcontinent is also part of our concerns. Thus, our focus is in terms of the
production of local knowledge as we begin with our decolonial argument that ‘I am where
I do’ (Mignolo 2011, 77).
The point we want to make here is that theories of organization should not only be crit-
icized for being ahistorical (Booth and Rowlinson 2006), but also for missing a geographical
orientation since they take for granted that the Anglo-Saxon world is the sole source of
theory (Ibarra-Colado 2006, 2008). From a decolonial perspective, ‘thinking in time requires
that we think the space of our timing, the becoming space of time’ (Mendieta 2008, 187).
We should then question whether he HT falls into the trap of being ‘told from the Western
perspective, as if there were a single, linear, and ascending history in time and a single center
in space’ (Mignolo 2011, 182). Hence, we posit that the HT does not address the domination
of Anglo-Saxon knowledge, nor promote the inclusion of Latin America in the house of
We want to challenge and to diversify the HT agenda and we want to foster new lenses
of investigation, since ‘it is not enough to change the content of the conversation, it is essen-
tial to change the terms of the conversation’ (Mignolo 2009, 4). Recent literature on business
history from Latin America – still overlooked by the Anglo-Saxon HT – has promoted the
inclusion of new objects and themes in the agenda (e.g. Peloso 1983; Barbero 2008; Miller
2010; Dávila 2013), and we want to engage with it and move forward by promoting a shift
in the geography of reasoning (Mignolo 2011) to construct the terms of our decolonized
Latin American agenda of the HT.
This paper is organized as follows: in the next section we introduce the decolonial per-
spective and discuss the inclusion of space in the (re)configuring of the HT agenda. We then
unfold our decolonized agenda organized around four topics: authors/theories, concepts,
objects, and themes; which are then followed by final considerations.

(Re)Configuring the historic turn through decoloniality: an operation

involving space and time
There is no doubt that the HT has opened up ‘space for more directly critical engagements
with history’ in MOK, and we agree that its promises are ‘as-yet-unfulfilled’ (Mills et al. 2016,
70–74). It is not of our objective here to promote a thorough investigation of the HT since
the Anglo-Saxon world has already effected it in two recent special issues dedicated to the
10 year celebration of the movement (AMR 2016; M&OH 2016). From a perspective of geo-
politics of knowledge, our focus is to question why neither authors nor themes from Latin
America figured therein. Of even greater concern is the fact that there are only few citations
of authors based outside the Anglo-Saxon world in all the articles of these two publications
(AMR 2016; M&OH 2016). That makes clear that the HT does not have the objective of pro-
moting the inclusion of Latin America in the house of knowledge.
The origins of HT have been traced – by European scholars – back to the work of institu-
tional theorists (Kieser 1994; Üsdiken and Kieser 2004). Their work was later embraced by
academics working on Critical Management Studies (CMS), but under their specific terms:
the field of Business History was classified as supplementarist, whereas the institutionalists
were said to prefer an integralist approach. Finally, CMS advocates a reorientationist view
that ‘involves a thoroughgoing critique of existing theories of organization for their ahistor-
ical orientation’ (Booth and Rowlinson 2006, 8). Hence, the Anglo-Saxon world – both the
mainstream and its critics – has agreed upon a way of dividing the HT into currents of their
own devising, and we Latin Americans have been left to select which one to adhere to. It
seems to represent a repetition of the division of the production of knowledge imposed by
the center in which the center produces science, and the periphery produces culture (Mignolo
Furthermore, the HT has not fostered the inclusion of themes from other spaces (e.g. AMR
2016; M&OH 2016), while the imposition of time has been reaffirmed by the Global North
through the discussion of methodologies in historiography, and deeper discussions of the
theoretical analysis of history (e.g. Kipping and Üsdiken 2014; Rowlinson, Hassard, and Decker
2014). Thus, instead of discussing the domination of knowledge and the imposition of agen-
das, we are led to foster methodologies that will reinforce the knowledge that ‘we have all
agreed upon’. Consequently, we suggest that the HT embraces a Western time line that
suppresses space under the domination of time (Mignolo 2011).
We suggest that the HT posited by the center falls into its own critique of ‘presentism’
(Booth and Rowlinson 2006, 6) since it remains in the extended past of the domination of
Anglo-Saxon knowledge. The HT may also fall prey to its own critique of universalism (Booth
and Rowlinson 2006, 6). From a perspective of geopolitics of knowledge (Mignolo 2011),
these two critiques may lead to another one, namely neocolonialism (Murphy and Zhu 2012),
since authors from Latin America and themes from this area almost never appear in these
The reorientationist view of CMS has fostered the introduction of postcolonial theory
(PCT) in MOK which has contributed to the widening of the HT agenda. In fact, decolonial
and postcolonial perspectives may be considered as complementary as ‘both projects strive
to unveil colonial strategies, promoting the reproduction of subjects whose aims and goals
are to control and possess’ (Mignolo 2011, xxvi). However, they have different origins as PCT
had its roots in the group of Asian subaltern studies, which were led by a group of Indian

historians concerned with re-writing history, mainly of India, after its independence in 1947
(Jack et al. 2011). By this time, the postcolonial experience in Latin America had already been
taking place for more than a century during which black slavery, for instance, had demarcated
the region differently from the colonial and postcolonial experience of Asian countries.
Our decision to make an option for a decolonial instead of a postcolonial perspective is
not just a matter of chronology of the (post)colonial experience, but also a question of means
and ends. By means we understand theories/authors and by ends the concepts, objects and
themes of investigation. It is clear that PCT ‘continues to work with Western-derived episte-
mology and categories of analysis’ (Jack et al. 2011, 291). Furthermore, PCT and critics of
mainstream MOK privilege authors and theories located in the Anglo-Saxon world, also it
may be impossible to ‘discuss anti-imperialism without invoking Marx’, to separate Said from
Foucault and Bhabba from Lacan, while Gramsci must be the reference to investigate peasant
resistance (Mir and Mir 2012, 98). In fact, for decolonial authors, Marxism ranks together with
Christianity and liberalism among the macro-narratives that support the imposition of Anglo-
Saxon knowledge (Dussel and Ibarra-Colado 2006). By the same token, ‘it has to be admitted
that the provenance of postcolonial thinking is profoundly Eurocentric’ (Jack et al. 2011,
Hence, had we presented ourselves as ‘Foucauldians or [the] actor networkers’ it would
certainly have made us more attractive critters to the audiences in the Global North (Mir
and Mir 2012, 98), we would have just helped perpetuate the ‘structures of intellectual and
academic dependency’ (Jack et al. 2011, 294) we are trying to overcome. Thus, from the locus
of enunciation of Latin America, we must ask ourselves whether engaging with the Anglo-
Saxon HT makes us part of the group of ‘proud critical (or advanced) thinkers’, who, in fact,
do not recognize the extent to which they are Eurocentric (Dussel and Ibarra-Colado 2006,
We embrace the decolonial perspective acknowledging the fact that its main authors
have Spanish as their mother tongue and, consequently, have the Spaniard postcolonial
legacy in Latin America as their main worries. Brazil and its Portuguese postcolonial legacy
are not the center of their investigation, which helps explain why decolonial researchers
make reference to only a few Brazilian authors (see Escobar 2011 and Mignolo 2000, 2009,
2011). We view this gap as a potential contribution we may bring to the decolonial project
rather than as a handicap. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that Walter Mignolo –
Argentinean philosopher and semiotic who is one of the main authors of the decolonial
project – has spent most of his career in Europe and the U.S.A., where he has been working
since he obtained his PhD in the mid-1970s. Hence, one must be aware of the decolonial
adage of localized thinking and imposition of Anglo-Saxon knowledge when reading
Mignolo. In Mignolo’s terms, it certainly requires of him a strong effort of double conscious-
ness to be immerged for such a long time on the internal side of the border and from there
to reflect on Latin American reality. That may explain his statement about the decolonial
ability ‘to think from both traditions and, at the same time, from none of them’ (Mignolo
2000, 67).
Disclosures made, the group leading the decolonial project states that decoloniality is
based on a long tradition of critical Latin American social thinkers, and is embedded with
notions of sub-continental coloniality (Mignolo 2011). This is one of the reasons why we
opted for a decolonial instead of a postcolonial perspective. The neologism decoloniality
indicates that power, being and knowledge domination persist even after colonial political

dominance has passed, imposing rationales that come from a solely Euro-American per-
spective (Quijano 2000; Escobar 2011; Mignolo 2011). Coloniality is inseparable from
(Eurocentric) modernity, but is denied by it. Modernity and coloniality are two aspects of
the same phenomena. They appear with Colombus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492. However,
European modernity recognizes itself only from the seventieth century onward, and this
operation overshadows two centuries of exploitation and exploration of Latin America. It
has to be recognized that the ego cogito would not be possible without the ego conquiro
formed during these two centuries that have been denied by European modernity (Dussel
In order to avoid this hegemonic and homogenizing perspective that comes from Europe,
we should mobilize the concept of geopolitics of knowledge to change the focus from what
is enunciated to the act of enunciation (Mignolo 2011). We should ask: ‘who and when, why
and where is knowledge generated’ (Mignolo 2009, 2). We have to move to the system’s
borders in order to create and find alternatives to modernity (Mignolo 2011). Border thinking
has to emerge from places that represent colonial differences, places that are demarcated
by the encounter of local histories with global designs (Mignolo 2000). It is through this
encounter between modernity and coloniality that colonial differences and imperial differ-
ences are generated, i.e. within the encounter of the internal side of the border and the
external side of the border (Mignolo and Tlostanova 2006). Since there is no external part
to modernity, ‘border thinking is the epistemology of the exteriority; that is, of the outside
created from the inside’ (Mignolo and Tlostanova 2006, 206).
In spite of the fact that Mignolo and Tlostanova (2006) indicate that border thinking is a
decolonized research methodology, this is still an underdeveloped concept. Faria (2013, 283,
284) elaborated this concept saying: ‘border thinking challenges the Eurocentric idea that
thinking is ‘delocalized’. It is based on the argument that thinking is inevitably based on
location’. Thus, border thinking is based on location, since ‘I am where I think’ (Mignolo 2011,
However, this does not mean the rejection of the internal side of the border and does not
necessarily imply the positioning of oneself as different, or as the other. It demands the
recognition of the border with its asymmetries. The movement to the external side of the
border seeks to escape the grand narrative that constitutes European modernity. This nar-
rative has been constituted from the presumption of its universality, reading all human
history through this lens, making it an excluding universality (Lander 2011).
The aim of the decolonial approach is to make the place from where the subject speaks
explicit, in order to challenge ‘the tendency of framing thinking as delocalized, a powerful
legacy from Eurocentric modernity’ (Faria 2013, 283). We need to activate geopolitics of
knowledge from the external side of the border to bring to the fore ‘geo-historical locations
and biographical histories’ (Mignolo 2011, xxiii). This is the operation we have to perform to
develop a decolonized research agenda for Latin America while embracing the HT. A research
agenda that is based on border thinking ‘is possible when different local histories and their
particular power relations are taken into consideration’ (Mignolo 2000, 67). To dig out these
local histories we need to make use of local lenses, and this is the operation we are trying
to develop here.
The invention of the modern tradition represented not only by colonization in terms of
time, but also colonization in terms of space denies the traditions of the colonized (Mignolo
2011). Eurocentric history, geography, and dominance of time over space have ignored entire

societies as if they emerged from nothing (Lander 2011). This imaginary world has been
termed by the anthropologist Johannes Fabian as the denial of coevalness (Lander 2011;
Mignolo 2011): the denial of the existence of different cultures and different spaces, engen-
dering a chronological hierarchy which follows time and leaves space aside (Mignolo 2011).
This choice also permits some arbiters of knowledge to position themselves at a ‘zero
point’, projecting a universality that encompasses everyone (Mignolo 2011). This neutral
speech position makes the locus of enunciation invisible ‘which is then converted into a
place without a place, into something universal’ (Castro-Gómez 2008, 279). Latin America,
like most of the world, is a victim of this suppression of time and space which removes large
parts of world history from consideration (Mendieta 2008). Consequently, the Euro-American
universality is always placed as the future of all others and the center of its location (Mignolo
2011). Hence, the construction of this imaginary modern world uses time as a basic concept,
which serves as an ‘instrument for both the control of knowledge and the advancing of a
vision of society based on progress and development’ (Mignolo 2011, 161).
Our decolonizing of space and time challenges the timeline imposed by Euro-American
modernity with the aim of illuminating ‘heterogeneous historic-structural nodes of imperial/
colonial space’ (Mignolo 2011, 84). It is within these nodes, made visible by the meeting of
imperial differences and colonial differences, that we will find the themes for a decolonized
Latin American research agenda for the HT.

A decolonized HT agenda from Latin America: Engaging authors/theories,

concepts, objects, and themes
We have positioned ourselves on the external side of the border – i.e. speaking from the
Latin American locus of enunciation – and from there we have investigated how the global
design represented by the HT, proposed by the internal side of the border and local Latin
American agendas may intercept, complement or simply ignore each other. This is the double
critique we have to use to bring to the fore the terms that have been pushed out of consid-
eration by the Anglo-Saxon domination in MOK, in general, and within the HT, in
We hereby present our decolonized HT agenda in four topics: authors/theories, concepts,
objects, and themes

Theories/authors: dependence studies, traditional Latin American social thought,

and ethics of liberation
We name dependence studies of the many streams of economic, political, and social analysis
formulated in Latin America that may be traced back to the original economic theories
proposed, in the late 1940s, by the Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL; the
Spanish/Portuguese acronym we use in this article). CEPAL is an agency of the United Nations
located in Santiago/Chile. Dependence studies encompass the formulations made by CEPAL
during the 1950s and 1960s and the different streams and authors that proposed a critique
of CEPAL from the mid-1960s onward (Bresser-Pereira 2011; Wanderley 2015).
Normally authors consider three streams within dependence studies: the most radical
and Marxist tendency, which proposed socialism as the unique solution to Latin America
underdevelopment, whose main authors were the Brazilians Theotonio dos Santos, Ruy

Mauro Marini, and Vania Bambirra, and the German-American André Gunder Frank; the
associated dependency, led by Brazilian Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Chilean Enzo
Faletto; and the revisionists led by Celso Furtado and Chilean Osvaldo Sunkel. The last two
streams proposed a way out of underdevelopment within capitalism, but all agreed that the
state via planning industrial development was key to lifting the country out of its dependent
condition (Bresser-Pereira 2011; Wanderley 2015).
From a perspective of geopolitics of knowledge, it is important to highlight that we con-
sider the Marxist theory of dependence (MTD) to be just one of the many streams within
dependence studies, though it is often recognized, by the internal side of the border, as the
theory of dependence (Wanderley 2015). From a decolonial perspective, we understand
that when dependence studies were re-framed under Marxist terms – one of the macro-nar-
ratives mobilized for the imposition of Anglo-Saxon knowledge (Dussel and Ibarra-Colado
2006) – ‘a dual provenance is conventionally ascribed to dependence, giving the doctrine a
combined North and South American pedigree’ (Wolfe 1997, 393). This operation pushed
aside many other economic, social, and political critiques within dependence studies and
buried them in the past (Mignolo 2011). Therefore, we must revisit Spanish and Portuguese
research by many authors from this region, and not just the English articles read by the
interior side of the border (Wanderley 2015).
Dependence studies are an integral part of the area’s tradition of social critical thought
and were concerned with the understanding of the reasons behind the region’s underde-
velopment. They revisited the history of Latin America beginning with its colonial domination
by Europe, which explained its constraints in terms of development. In other words, the
region’s underdevelopment could be only explained within the long durée of its coloniality
(Wanderley 2015).
Hence, from a decolonial perspective, we affirm that dependence studies should be con-
sidered as the launch of the HT within MOK. Furthermore, the concepts of center-periphery
which were inscribed in the ‘Havana Manifesto’ (Prebisch 1949) – the first document that
outlined CEPAL doctrines – presented a clear geographical orientation for its formulations.
In other words, the historic turn launched from Latin America carried together a geographic
turn that should be appreciated by the HT in MOK. This is a way to reset the chronology of
the Euro-American universality and to avoid the suppression of space to the benefit of time
(Mignolo 2011).
By means of the center-periphery concepts and by positioning itself in the locus of enun-
ciation of Latin America, the Manifesto denounced the false universalism of theories from
the center, including, for instance, the theory of comparative advantage in international
trade (Prebisch 1949). By suggesting an asymmetry in trade conditions between the center
and the periphery to the detriment of the latter, CEPAL posited that development and under-
development are two sides of the same coin, with each one leading to the other (Furtado
1964). This is the same kind of argument that decolonial authors would later use to consider
the fate of modernity and coloniality (Quijano 2000). This proposition was contrary to devel-
opment theories from the center that suggested that conditions in Latin America were just
a pre-stage that could be overcome and that progress would be achieved if the proper
practices (from the center) were followed (Rostow 1960).
This clear manifestation of a geopolitical dispute for knowledge is not buried in the past.
A World Bank’s report, in the face of the commodity price boom of the first decade of this
century, suggested that Latin American commodity dependence could lead to sustained

growth. This report affirmed that, under ‘the weight of the empirical evidence’, Prebisch was
not correct pointing that export prices of raw materials from Latin America would lose value
comparative to industrial imports from the center (Sinott, Nash and de la Torre 2010, 16).
Prebisch was no longer alive to comment but the debacle of commodities prices that
started a few months after the report proved him right.
Consequently, geopolitics of knowledge leads us researchers from Latin America to
include in an updated decolonized research agenda, the different economic, social, and
political formulations under dependence studies to investigate the reality of our region and
others within the Global South. Through the lenses of dependence studies we may under-
stand, for instance, the presence of the state in the economy and the role of state companies
‘not as expressions of exoticism, but as relevant critical forms of knowledge produced and
lived from the perspective of different histories and traditions’ (Misoczky 2011, 360).
The internal side of the border has suggested that one of the main theories to be explored
within the HT is based on ‘the theory and philosophy of history, as well as the work of his-
torians in neighboring fields’ (Godfrey et al. 2016, 591). We understand that this proposal
corroborates our engagement with philosophers within the decoloniality project (Dussel
1993; Mendieta 2008; Mignolo 2011), and we want to expand it to include traditional social
thought from Latin America. In this part, we offer examples from Brazil, and we are sure that
each Latin American country has its own group of local authors.
Brazilian Traditional Social Thought (BTST) is an interdisciplinary field of investigation that
revisits the theoretical constructions of authors born in the first decades of the twentieth
century. Those authors are called ‘Interpreters of Brazil’ and among those traditional social
thinkers are Darcy Ribeiro, Paulo Freire, Milton Santos (these already cited by authors within
the decoloniality project), Josué de Castro, Hélio Jaguaribe, Guerreiro Ramos, Ruy Mauro
Marini, Celso Furtado, Sergio Buarque de Holanda, Raymundo Faoro, Caio Prado Junior,
Roberto Simonsen, Gilberto Freyre, among many others (
As different as their works can be, they share the rupture with colonial thinking and they
prioritize in their investigation Brazilian questions through local lenses (Maia 2010). BTST
should be understood ‘not as a set of classical texts and intellectuals associated with a past
tradition, but as the contemporary field of studies about such tradition’ (Maia 2010, 66).
Enacted as a contemporary field of studies BTST may represent ‘a way to construct the the-
oretical discourse, which is oriented towards unveiling modernity in Brazil, seen from our
peripheral inscription in the western world’ (Maia 2010, 67), i.e. from the locus of enunciation
of Latin America. As such, BTST could be articulated with contemporary debates criticizing
Eurocentrism and pointing toward the necessity of alternative points of view to the domi-
nating Anglo-Saxon perspective (Maia 2010).
Among the examples of utilization of authors from BTST to explain recent phenomena
and to rethink MOK from the locus of enunciation of Latin America, we could mention:
Misoczky and Flores (2012) who recurred to Paulo Freire’s concept of pedagogy of the
oppressed to reconfigure what being a critical MOK researcher means; Misoczky and Imasato
(2014) who made use of the concept of sub-imperialism of Ruy Mauro Marini to investigate
the operations of Brazilian multinationals within South America; and Cavalcanti and
Alcadipani (2016) and Alcadipani (2017) who revisited the works of Guerreiro Ramos and
utilized his concept of sociological reduction to investigate the circulation of management
education in the periphery.

Guerreiro brought up some concepts that would later appear in postcolonial studies
(Cavalcanti and Alcadipani 2016). Guerreiro formed his way of thinking during the 1950s
inside two institutions that produced discussions that today would be termed postcolonial
and that have much to contribute to both the decolonial project and to MOK: the Brazilian
Institute of Economics, Sociology, and Politics (IBESP), a private organization, and its succes-
sor, the Brazilian Institute of Higher Studies (ISEB), a government body created by the Ministry
of Education. Ranking at ISEB with Guerreiro we should mention social thinkers Álvaro Vieira
Pinto, Roland Corbisier, Nélson Werneck Sodré, Cândido Mendes, Rômulo Almeida, and
Ignacio Rangel (Wanderley 2016).
These institutions were responsible for social and political theorizations that aligned with
the economic formulations of CEPAL that helped interpret and intervene in the local reality.
The group of intellectuals within ISEB was responsible for the formulations of concepts such
as national-developmentalism and populism that are key to understanding Latin American
development from the 1930s to the 1970s (Wanderley 2016). Populism is a concept that is
now being proposed to investigate new phenomena such as Trumpism and Brexit
(Organization, 2017) and IBESP/ISEB formulations have a lot to contribute from the locus of
enunciation of Latin America.
These examples illustrate the potential of recurring to BTST to investigate local realities
through local lenses and, thus, promoting a shift in the geography of reasoning to enrich
MOK and to decolonize HT research agenda.
We would like to finish this part by making a brief reference to ethics of liberation (Dussel
and Ibarra-Colado 2006) as a Latin American theorization that may contribute to a rethink
of MOK. Ethics of liberation suggests that any organization should have its objective to
develop ‘some dimension of human life’, and that ‘instead of profit and personal benefit, the
basic material imperative that should guide every organized human action would be the
defence of the life of the human individual’ (Dussel and Ibarra-Colado 2006, 501; italics in the
original). This is a form of decentering the market and rethinking the organization by putting
human life in the center of any company objective. The same approach should be directed
to state objectives, as in the words of Celso Furtado (1974) – main Brazilian representative
at CEPAL – the state should work in favor of the society not the market.

Concepts: developmentalism, populism, laborism, anthropophagy, and

sociological reduction
Developmentalism is a concept that was formulated by ISEB and later rearticulated by Latin
American scholars that can help explain the organization phenomena in Latin America and
the production and dissemination of MOK within the region (Wanderley 2016). On the other
hand, research from the interior side of the border proposes the concepts of Americanization
(Engwall, 2004; Kieser, 2004; Kipping, Üsdiken, & Puig, 2004) and the Cold War (Cooke, Mills,
and Kelley 2005; Kelley, Mills, and Cooke 2006; Mclaren and Mills 2008) to investigate the
production and export of MOK during the 1940s and 1970s. However, we posit that
Americanization and the Cold War are necessary but not sufficient concepts to offer a deco-
lonial understanding through border thinking of Latin American realities as they depart
from Euro-American modernity and, consequently its chronology.
Developmentalism is a concept that designates ‘a group of practices proposed or executed
by policymakers or a group of theories that express certain ideologies’ (Fonseca 2013, 2).

Developmentalism also represents the industrialization process that took place throughout
Latin America as a consequence of the 1929 world crisis. It would later be theorized by CEPAL
which pledged that the state should lead the private sector in the industrialization process.
As a consequence, many state-led organizations were created in the region during the 1950s
and 1960s (Fonseca 2013).
If we apply developmentalism as an investigation concept for Latin America, we may
understand state-led organizations as a natural phenomenon in the region, not as an anom-
aly. We may also perceive that developmentalism and the corresponding new role of the
state were also responsible for the creation of the first management schools in the region.
Thus, we can see that Americanization and the Cold War were not solely responsible for the
generation of MOK within the region (Wanderley 2016).
We take for granted that US’s active role in producing and exporting managerial episte-
mologies and practices cannot be ignored, even though it is also important to recognize
the active role of the importing countries (Usdiken and Wasti, 2009; Alcadipani and Bertero
2012). These currents of practices followed the US economic dominance that was consoli-
dated after the World War II and substituted the French influence which had previously been
dominant (Westwood and Jack 2008; Malerba 2009). However, in terms of geopolitics of
knowledge (Mignolo 2011), we should ask if these themes do not distract us from other
possibilities in Latin America’s historiographical research agenda.
From the external side of the border (Mignolo 2011), we should be aware that throughout
the 1950s, especially while Eisenhower was in office (1953–1961), the US drifted away from
Latin America. Some authors even say that, particularly in terms of Brazil, this period saw
the end of a special relationship between the two countries (Hilton 1981). Therefore, we
should not overestimate the Americanization process and the Cold War, and how they influ-
enced power struggles around the world. We should also, however, not underestimate the
process of Americanization which always needs to be considered in terms of its location and
context (Van Elteren 2006).
This is an example of the double consciousness exercise necessary to decolonize HT
research agenda: from the locus of enunciation of Latin America, we need to embrace the
concept of developmentalism and at the same time engage with the concepts of
Americanization and the effects of the Cold War as proposed by the interior side of the
This exercise will show us that in Latin America we could demarcate the beginning of the
Cold War intervention in MOK production and dissemination with the launch of the Alliance
for Progress, in 1961, by US president JF Kennedy (Wanderley 2017). Indeed, the military
coup in Guatemala organized by the CIA, in 1954, represented the first US attempt to combat
communism in Latin America. However, the violent US intervention in the country that
overthrew a democratically elected president soon turned to the assassination of Carlos
Castillo Armas, the new president chosen by US authorities (Bowen 1983). It would then be
the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution that provoked a turnaround in US foreign policy
toward Latin America, and the consequent creation of the Alliance as a ‘legitimate’ interven-
tion mechanism (Pollock 1978). From the locus of enunciation of Latin America, we should
consider that the Alliance used the Organization of American States and the Inter-American
Development Bank as intervention agents(Wanderley 2017).
Shifting the geography of reasoning and taking developmentalism as a research key in
conjunction with the concepts of Americanization and the Cold War unveils other

investigation concepts from the locus of enunciation of Latin America. From the external
side of the border, we suggest two concepts that may be articulated in tandem with devel-
opmentalism: laborism and populism.
In conjunction with the industrialization process that accelerated in Latin America begin-
ning in the 1930s, laborism and populism were phenomena that appeared in the region and
were associated with the formation of a new legion of urban workers. These themes had a
strong influence on Latin America from the 1930s to the 1960s (Sader 2005). Thus, we posit
that laborism and populism may offer a better explanation for the organizational history of
the region. Laborism may give voice to the workers (e.g. Decca 1981), while populism may
better explain governmental policies to support local family groups, and the way that gov-
ernments operated to gain support from voters in a time when civil society participation
was getting stronger in the public arena.
Populism in Latin America was associated with presidents in the region, for instance,
Getúlio Vargas in Brazil, Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico, and Juan Domingo Perón in Argentina
(Sader 2005). Recently, populism has gained more attention from researchers from the center
as they attempt to explain the new governments that are taking power in the US and Europe
(e.g. Inglehart and Norris, 2016). Hence, populism may be a key concept to investigate not
only in terms of Latin America’s past and its relationship to prevailing organizational practices,
but also its relationship with what is now taking place in the center.
However, we must take care in terms of how the internal side of the border delineates
the concept of populism. Usually, without restriction, these are concepts that analysts choose
to denounce, without attempting to understand them (Fonseca 2013). From the external
side of the border (Mignolo and Tlostanova 2006), we consider populism and laborism to
be legitimate phenomena that challenge the centrality of Euro-American organizational
history and may help explain the evolution of organizations in Latin America (and in the
We would like to close this sub-section proposing the concept of anthropophagy – in
fact, the oldest one outlined here – as a possibility to (re)configure the HT from the locus of
enunciation of Latin America. We may date it to the ‘Anthropophagy Manifest’ launched by
Brazilian poet, dramatist and writer Oswald de Andrade (1928). We may say that the manifest
‘is decolonial much avant la lettre’ as, in search for the Brazilian roots and new concepts,
Andrade combined European traditions, which are devoured as if in some cannibalistic ritual,
with Brazilian indigenous elements (Castro 2016, 14). We observe in the manifest a double
consciousness exercise as ‘the only way to eschew Christian, European and modernist anthro-
pologocentrism’ in the production of knowledge (Castro 2016, 14).
Recent work from Latin America proposing anthropophagy as a concept to reconfigure
MOK can be found in Islam (2012) and Faria et al. (2013). Islam (2012) proposed the concept
as a way to discuss issues of hybridity and cultural mix in organizations. Faria et al. (2013)
utilized anthropophagy to investigate the model of a non-traditional training school located
in Rio de Janeiro. Anthropophagy (Castro-Klarén 2000) and sociological reduction (Alcadipani,
2017) are two concepts that lead us to consider that ‘hybridism is the key element of authen-
ticity in the South in a context of global power shift’ (Alcadipani et al. 2012, 137). Sociological
reduction departs from the premise that any foreign knowledge is subsidiary to the study
of local reality that should be apprehended by the use of local lenses (Alcadipani 2017).
Moreover, the concepts outlined in this sub-section show the different possibilities of
constructing a decolonized HT research agenda from Latin America and highlight that not

only ‘much remains to be learned from MOK in the South’ (Alcadipani et al. 2012, 137), but
also that those concepts can help illuminate MOK emanating from the internal side of the
border. For sure, studies that make use of Western perspectives narrow the possibilities of
understanding realities within Latin America or may just lead to the overlooking of organi-
zational practices within the region (Alcadipani et al. 2012). Thus, it is not enough to generate
new objects of investigation, but we need also to investigate them through local lenses.

Objects: state-led companies, family, small- and medium-sized businesses and

their (extra)ordinary management
Alfred Chandler is recognized as being the father of the business history field, and there is
no doubt that he brought history to the forefront of MOK (McCraw 1987). However, from a
perspective of geopolitics of knowledge, we posit that his work has undermined the inves-
tigation of other types of businesses that are not only important in Latin America, but also
throughout the entire world (Faria and Wanderley 2013).
Chandler’s focus was mainly large private businesses which he considered to be the
engines of development in the US. He considered the role of the state beyond its scope
(Chandler 1962). Chandler carried his passion for big business throughout his roughly sixty
years of fertile academic production (Wanderley and Faria 2012). The propagation of
Chandler’s works has furthered market fundamentalism and, consequently, put state-led,
but also family, small and medium businesses in a subaltern position (Faria and Wanderley
Therefore, we initially engage with recent work in Latin American business history pub-
lished in international journals, i.e. not within the region, but, also relevant, some authored
by researchers working in Latin America (e.g. Barbero 2008; Dávila 2013; Lluch, Salvaj and
Barbero 2014). The aim here is to present objects that have already been included in the
Latin American agenda, but that have not yet made their way to the Anglo-Saxon HT agenda,
which may be partially explained by the imposition of Chandler’s agenda. We highlight that
most of the articles mentioned in this part appeared in special issues, just as the main pub-
lications ‘about the Global South’ within the first 20 years of Organization have only managed
their way to press in ‘curated special issues’ (Mir and Mir 2012, 98). This helps illustrate the
institutional spaces that people from the margins can occupy (Misoczky 2011).
The recent interest in Latin American business history may be in part explained by the
growing importance of developing countries in the global economy and the economic
reforms promoted throughout the region since the 1980s (Dávila 2013). The interest in busi-
ness history in Latin America took ground later than in other parts of the world, and the
number of publications is still comparatively low (Bátiz-Lazo 2015). Business history, as a
discipline was not established in the region until the 1980s (Barbero 2003), and there are
not many groups devoted to discussing the theme in the region (Dávila 2013; Szmrecsanyi
and Topik 2004).
More recently, the importance of the state and multinational companies in local econo-
mies and their relations with local, dominant family business groups has led to the inclusion
of Latin America in the debate on varieties of capitalism (Schneider 2009). The presence of
the state in local economies and the role of state companies have an unequivocal importance
in the way Latin American business developed, and the literature on varieties of capitalism
from the region may contribute to the HT agenda in what concerns ‘family business, business

groups, and business-government relations’ (Miller 2010, 653). This literature has so far been
neglected by the HT led by Anglo-Saxon scholars. Literature on varieties of capitalism rein-
forces the idea ‘that Latin America offers a fascinating laboratory for the study of business
organization, the relationship between the public and private, the relationship between the
government and the market, and the relationship between the local and global’ (Szmrecsanyi
and Topik, 2004, 186).
To activate this laboratory of investigation from the locus of enunciation of Latin America
we need the further inclusion of theories/authors and concepts pertinent to the region.
Hence, it is not enough to include new objects of investigation such as family business and
business–government relations, we need additionally to shift the geography of reasoning
(Mignolo 2011) by performing the research through local lenses. Otherwise, we may fall prey
to depicting our companies as ‘dysfunctional relative to some ideal form of effective and
modern management practices from the North’ (Alcadipani et al. 2012, 134).
To investigate local business through local lenses and to avoid considering them dys-
functional led some authors to introduce the concept ‘(extra)ordinary management’, i.e. the
investigation of the day-to-day operations of small and medium businesses managed, nor-
mally, by family members (Barros and Carrieri, 2015; Carrieri, Perdigão and Aguiar, 2014).
These businesses are important not only in Latin America, but throughout the world as well.
This is a way to decolonize Chandler’s (1962, 1977) ‘visible hand’ and his focus on big
Though business history in Latin America has advanced the research agenda that may
contribute to HT, the importance, for instance, of ‘firms in the primary sector and on agro-in-
dustrial companies’ in local economies has not yet been duly explored (Barbero 2008, 373).
The longstanding role in these sectors of small and medium family businesses, sometimes
organized in clusters or under cooperative structures, is an important object in a HT agenda
from Latin America.

Themes: slavery/debt peonage, racism, and the support of dictatorships

A recent publication from the center has pointed out that in organizational history ‘the dark
side of organizations has been neglected, such as management complicity in war, slavery,
and racism’ (Godfrey et al. 2016, 600). We agree these are important themes proposed by
the internal side of the border that we should embrace and decolonize. From the external
side of the border, it is clear that slavery and racism were important in the formation of
organizations and labor relations within Latin America. However, it was an author from the
center who related management to slavery (Cooke 2003).
Hence, from our locus of enunciation within Latin America (Mignolo 2011), we should
investigate the rural world from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. At this time, slavery
was the basis of the construction of the ‘big businesses’ of sugar cane and coffee plantations
(see Stein 1957 for more information on coffee plantations) and left deep marks on society.
The investigation of ‘slavery in the past and its relation to current and ongoing issues of race
and discrimination’ may become an important contribution to MOK (Godfrey et al. 2016,
600) from both sides of the border. These themes should be part of a decolonized HT agenda
from Latin America and should consider that the investigation of practices of debt peonage
that followed the abolition of slavery (e.g. Peloso 1983; Bergquist 1990) may provide a direct
link to current practices of enslaved work (e.g. Sakamoto 2007).

Brazil was one of the first countries to recognize contemporaneous practices of slavery,
and its government created institutions to combat them. Similarly to what happened in the
sugar and coffee plantations of colonial times and debt peonage practices that followed
slavery abolition, workers are taken to remote parts of the country and are forced to work
to pay for their maintenance. At the beginning of this century, Brazil recognized the existence
of 25000 workers under slavery conditions in the country (Sakamoto, 2007).
In what concerns ‘management complicity in war’ (Godfrey et al. 2016, 600), from the
external side of the border, we should decolonize it as the support given by organizations
to military dictatorships throughout Latin America. During the 1960s and 1970s, military
regimes were established in many countries across the region with US support (see Black
1977 in terms of Brazil). In most countries, military forces had the support of organizations
and civil society (see Dreifuss 1980 in terms of Brazil). It was not just a story of leftist militants
against the military. Organizations, locals and multinationals, not only provided funds for
military action and created think tanks for anti-communist propaganda (Dreifuss 1980), but
they also lent their premises for the use of torture.
The case of Volkswagen (VW) is an example of this issue. After accusations made by the
National Truth Committee – created by the Brazilian government to investigate arbitrary
acts of violence committed during the military regime – VW has recently published a report
assuming its support for the regime (Kopper, 2017). From the external side of the border,
we understand the VW reaction as that of an organization that has already faced similar
issues at home due to its practices during the Nazi regime (Schrempf-Stirling, Palazzo and
Phillips 2016). The VW case is an example of how we decolonize ‘management complicity in
war’ (Godfrey et al. 2016, 600), as proposed by the internal side of the border, by supporting
dictatorships in Latin America.
To sum up this sub-section, we have to embrace the themes of slavery, racism and cor-
porate responsibility for past actions proposed by the internal side of the border, and we
have to decolonize them to compose a Latin American HT agenda. This will lead us to inves-
tigate the prevailing racism in our organizations, and its relationship to the previous practices
of slavery throughout the region, which may help us explain other forms of debt peonage
that followed slavery and still persist in the present century. Embracing the theme of man-
agement complicity in war leads us, for instance, to research the different ways in which
organizations have traditionally given support to military regimes across Latin America.

Final considerations
We have in this paper explored how a decolonial framework can inform MOK with the objec-
tive of fostering a decolonized historic turn agenda from Latin America. We have followed
a double consciousness exercise in which we engaged with the agenda proposed by the
internal side of the border, inspired by Anglo-Saxon knowledge, and we proposed authors/
theories, concepts, objects, and themes emanated from the locus of enunciation of Latin
We have followed the tradition of social critical thought from Latin America that in order
to forge its own spaces has often been expressed in the form of a manifest. The Havana
Manifest, in 1949, criticized the false sense of universalism of the theories produced in the
center. The Anthropophagic Manifest, in 1928, depicted two important aphorisms: ‘we have
never been catechized’ and ‘tupi or not tupi’. The later devours Hamlet’s drama and reframes

it in terms of a local Brazilian indigenous tribe, the tupis. These manifests reflect the dilemma
we researchers from the periphery face in the encounter with the internal side of the border:
do we let ourselves be catechized to become accepted or do we struggle to inscribe our
own diverse tupi ascendances in the house of knowledge?
It is clear that the HT introduced in MOK has not promoted the inclusion of Latin America
in the house of knowledge. There is no doubt that the HT has opened up space for critical
debates in MOK’s treatment of history. However, its mission is far from accomplished. In spite
of a critical bias, Eurocentrism is still a notable feature. Hence, together with a historic turn
we must introduce a geographic turn in MOK to include other spaces in order to promote
a shift in the geography of reasoning. Time has been an important issue in the imposition
of Anglo-Saxon knowledge and a decolonial framework can give support to the inclusion
of other spaces within MOK in general and within the HT, in particular. We emphasize the
need for authors from the South – and the North – to pay more attention to local content
and local thinkers in order to better inform their arguments, and to become more aware of
their biases.
We do not have the pretense of exhausting the potential contributions to a decolonized
HT agenda, much to the contrary, we hope our work will incentivize researchers from other
countries – from both the Global North and South – to unfold their own agendas. Being
Brazilians, and guided by the geopolitics of knowledge adage that ‘I am where I do and dwell’,
we have proposed our own local – and limited – agenda to reinforce the view that knowledge
is necessarily localized. We do not intend either to create a Latin American universal that
should replace the Anglo-Saxon one that dominates MOK.
We believe that it is by exploring the (dis)encounters of the external and the internal sides
of the border that we may foster a more plural field of MOK and a richer HT agenda. From
this space of diverse epistemic encounter from both sides of the border, it would be possible
to recognize and value what has been produced from the colonial difference, not as expres-
sions of exoticism, but as relevant critical forms of knowledge produced and lived from the
perspective of different histories and traditions. More than claims of purism, concepts of
anthropophagy and sociological reduction may indicate that Latin America great virtue may
be represented by its ability to adapt foreign knowledge to local reality generating some-
thing new without letting itself being catechized nor becoming a mimicry copy of the
Coming from different spaces within the external side of the border, we should be aware
that adhering to a critical stream like the HT to become acceptable by the internal side of
the border may just make of us proud researchers who do not recognize how Eurocentric
we are being. According to Frantz Fanon, this is the ultimate mission of the colonizer, to
make the colonized see themselves through the eyes of the colonizer. Moreover, we reiterate
that to turn our back on the place from where we speak is not only bad for originality, but
also leads to the neglect of original contributions.

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