Meet Our Lecturers - prof. dr hab. Monika Kostera

Lecturers of the Executive MBA @ UW program

What distinguishes the Executive MBA at the University of Warsaw is the quality, diversity and skills of our lecturers. We carefully select our lecturers so that our students gain as much substantive and up-to-date knowledge as possible from people with a wide background.

In order for you to get to know some of them better, we will regularly present their profiles to you.

prof. dr hab. Monika Kostera

Education: University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management; University of Lund, Sweden

Polish economist, titular professor of economics and the humanities, Professor and Chair in Management at the Jagiellonian University. She is affiliated with the Institute of Culture at the Jagiellonian University, Poland, as well as with Södertörn University, Sweden. She is the
author and editor of over 40 books in Polish and English and a number of articles published in journals including Organization Studies, Journal of Business Ethics and Human Relations. Her current research interests include imagination and organization, disalienation of work, organizational ethnography, and organizational archetypes. Some of her recent books include: Organizational Ethnography co-edited with Nancy Harding (2021, Edward Elgar), After the Apocalypse (2020, Zero Books, John Hunt), The Future of University Education co-edited with Michał Izak and Michał Zawadzki (2017, Palgrave),and Management in a Liquid Modern World with Zygmunt Bauman, Irena Bauman and Jerzy Kociatkiewicz (2015, Polity). She also publishes poetry with established publishers.

1. What is the most satisfying professional project you have carried out so far?

It's very difficult for me to choose one, there are so many interesting things past and
current... I guess I'm still open to that one big, rewarding project that I could name
right away. However, if I have to choose something, it would be the developing
collaboration with scholars from different countries; the emerging tide in the social
sciences dedicated to writing. The writing differently movement is gaining more and
more attention in academic circles, with scholars wishing to partly restore and partly
develop new canons and styles of academic writing that would encourage reading,
primarily by academic readers, but also from the outside of the academic circle:
practitioners, amateurs, students. We want to interest publishers, scientific journals,
editors and reviewers in the idea of beautiful and readable writing. We want it to be
fashionable to avoid jargon, to shun bureaucratic styles that are so inaccessible that it is
virtually impossible to know what they are conveying. We want to write for readers, in
order to be read, for our texts to become part of lively, interesting discussions. It is very
encouraging to see the growing interest in this wave - and the great enthusiasm it seems
to encounter in many countries. As early as next year, there should be one further
concrete result from this project - hopefully satisfying not only for me.

2. What is the impact of working in many places around the world on your work?

Good question. On the one hand, it gives me truly valuable and unusual experiences and
contact with many fascinating environments, as well as the inspiration needed for
creative and research work. Science is a conversation, so you need to have someone to
talk to, share interests, listen to the experiences of others and exchange ideas. The
subject matter of interest to a social scientist is complex, so the presence of many strong
communities to exchange ideas is a valuable asset. However, I am also, due to my direct
participation, aware of the fact that the world of academia has in crisis for several
decades now. This is particularly true of Anglo-Saxon universities, which are often
glorified in our country, presented as a model for others to follow, an almost perfect
system. This is a picture which is very far from the reality experienced by the actual
participants of the system.

On the other hand, my multinational experience makes me feel that I know different
sides of complex problems and issues and that I should somehow share this knowledge,
especially with communities close to me. However, the difference of these experiences
means that they tend to go unnoticed. But I have the feeling that there is still a lot more
to come.  

3. Referring to your research interests, what do you think is the most interesting about the
theories of the organization?

What I find most fascinating is the genuine, vibrant interdisciplinarity of the discipline.
While other academic disciplines in the last century tended to become more and more
separate, organisation and management sciences (the name of our discipline is still
changing) have, on the contrary, not only held on to their interdisciplinary, but
established an active cooperation with other disciplines, bringing many ideas and ways
of understanding social phenomena, which significantly enriched knowledge and gave
hope for the development of social theories reflecting the increasingly complex world. In
the present century, interdisciplinarity has again become desirable and now our
discipline often plays the role of a bridge between different disciplines, as a translator of
scientific ideas. The same hold true for managers, according to many researchers,
including one of the most important thinkers of our discipline, Professor Henry
Mintzberg. The most important aspect of the managerial role is that of communicator,
translator between contexts, not only linguistic but also semantic.

4. What advice do you have for future EMBA graduates?

It is well known that muscles that are not used and regularly exercised atrophy. If we do
not go to the gym, hike in the woods or ride a bike, we become weak and unfit. It works
the same way with imagination. It is something we all have! Suffices to recall what it
was like when we were kids. But imagination unused atrophies. We need to take care of
it, exercise it intensely by going to the “gym for imagination”: exhibitions, museums,
concerts. It is advisable to do it regularly, just as one has to be systematic with physical
exercise. For managers imagination is just as necessary as knowledge, perhaps even
more so! To have a vision, to be able to manage a team of different people, to truly
patronise innovation (and not to be deceived by false creators and fake innovators). As
an example of a good practice, I recommend the Stockholm School of Economics';
wonderful SSE Art Initiative (
) For many years it has been regularly organizing exhibitions at the
university, collecting works of art, turning the university building into an increasingly
interesting living museum of contemporary art. It is also organizing seminars and
meetings with artists. The students appreciate these activities a lot and participate in
them enthusiastically. After all, according to Professor Pierre Guillet de Monthoux,
management is an art. This is a metaphor – it really is an art as much as it is a practice,
an expertise, a profession. Developing the artistic dimension of management can bring
many expected (such as imagination) and unexpected benefits. And this is one of the
major effects of competence in this area: the ability to deal with the unexpected.


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