Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The discourse of corporate cosmopolitanism.

Halsall, Robert


Robert Halsall


This paper examines how the ideal of cosmopolitan identity is represented in selected popular global management texts. It is argued that the corporate cosmopolitan ideal of a flexible identity draws interdiscursively on two main discourses. First, there is the Enlightenment ideal of cosmopolitanism, expressed as a moral imperative towards detachment from existing cultural identities and loyalties in the name of the adoption of a universal perspective. This is reflected in the rhetoric of the necessity for managers and employees to 'transform' themselves from 'locals' into 'cosmopolitans'. This uplifting rhetoric of 'transformation', however, is accompanied by the more prosaic discourse of cosmopolitanism as a competence in 'managing culture' which can be acquired by all. Second, 'corporate cosmopolitanism' draws on a 'postmodern' ideal of a flexible 'pastiche' identity, distanced through irony from all existing cultural and other 'hot' loyalties. This discourse is personified in the image of the 'hybrid' as the ideal corporate cosmopolitan. It is argued that corporate cosmopolitanism represents, not a utopia in which cultural difference and diversity is respected and celebrated, but a dystopia in which cultural difference is made superfluous by the establishment of a flexible transnational capitalist class with no attachment to or responsibility for place.


HALSALL, R. 2009. The discourse of corporate cosmopolitanism. British journal of management [online], 20(Supplement 1), pages S136-S148. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 19, 2009
Online Publication Date Feb 19, 2009
Publication Date Mar 31, 2009
Deposit Date Apr 6, 2011
Publicly Available Date Apr 6, 2011
Journal British journal of management
Print ISSN 1045-3172
Electronic ISSN 1467-8551
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue Supplement 1
Pages S136-S148
Public URL


Downloadable Citations