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International Conference of the Management & Organizational Behavior Teaching Society

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Amazon and the contradictions of capitalism: Channelling and challenging ‘best practice’

Amazon is frequently heralded as the poster child of the internet era. Strategy and leadership textbooks highlight Amazon as a ground-breaker in terms innovation, long-term thinking, and data analytics, while Jeff Bezos is recognized for heroic entrepreneurship and leadership. Mainstream analytical considerations of Amazon are typically laden with assumptions of profit maximisation and self-interest. A consequence is that students often conflate the interest of multiple stakeholders with shareholders, whilst tensions, paradoxes and ethical dilemmas are muted in the interests of the ‘optimal’ solution. Using the case of Amazon and criticisms of its working conditions the session highlights an approach to teaching which unpacks the workplace dynamics and tensions inherent to the capitalist system. Offering multiple lenses to explore a singular phenomenon of so called ‘best practice’ enables us to explore and expand the issues presented to students in order to foster a more reflexive and critical mode of understanding.

Brian Harney
Dublin City University

Tony Dundon
University of Manchester
United Kingdom


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