Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Flipping the normative: Developing and delivering a critical pedagogy for executive education in a UK business school

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sharon MavinORCiD, Dr Joanne James, Dr Nicola Patterson, Dr Amy Stabler, Dr Sandra Corlett



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This article explores tensions when flipping the normative by developing and facilitating a programme-long critical pedagogy for executive education in a UK business school. Through a small-scale qualitative study with academics, we explore a critical pedagogy underpinning two executive MSc programmes and informing an Executive MBA. We demonstrate how the approach flips the normative by deviating from norms, doing the unexpected and disrupting ‘how things are understood and done around here’. Critical pedagogy is unusual, in opposition to traditional business school education. Programme-long critical approaches are rare. We explore tensions when flipping the normative through the following themes: power, control and trusting the process; vulnerability as strength and emotional risk; and academic privilege, precariousness and Othering. We make four contributions. First, we articulate a programme-long critical pedagogy in executive education, illustrating how this flips the normative. Second, we outline tensions and learning when facilitating a critical pedagogy. Third, through collective reflexivity, we reveal academics’ personal perspectives of facilitating critical pedagogy and its impact. Fourth, we theorize how recognizing vulnerability as strength is a pedagogical process that facilitates critical management and leadership education. We offer learning for future critical executive education and implications for practitioners, academics, business schools and universities to consider.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mavin S, James J, Patterson N, Stabler A, Corlett S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Management Learning

Year: 2023

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 13/04/2023

Acceptance date: 23/02/2023

Date deposited: 13/04/2023

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/13505076231162717


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric