Authentic leadership appears as the solution to plenty of painful contemporary problems. Bad economy, bad organizational performance, bad culture would all become subject to change for the better if leaders behave more authentically, according to the line of discussion. However, the debate seems to stand on poor feet, since some core assumptions don’t stand a closer viability check. This paper highlights two core problems in the foundations of the authenticity debate such as the belief in a stable core self and the trust in a homogenous organization. The paper demonstrates not only the fragmented and narrative constitution of self and organization, we show furthermore to which hidden problem the authenticity debate refers; to which the sheer existence of the debate is already a solution. It is complexity avoidance that the authenticity debate provides. It helps to re-install the myth of the influential leader in a situation, in which the opposite has become apparent.
By applying the “learning from looking elsewhere” approach I offer recommendations for the advancement of ethnographic practice derived from a study of direct selling distributors. The article is based on a long-term field study (observations and interviews) conducted among sales forces for a global direct sales cosmetics company. The study is supplemented with the inclusion of auto-ethnographic vignettes from the author’s personal experiences as ethnographic researcher and supervisor. I develop a typology of four coping strategies’ currently functioning in direct selling organizations: 1) offer routine to follow; 2) make the task manageable; 3) offer emotional purpose; and 4) provide an opportunity for gradual immersion. This typology can be usefully applied for categorizing, communicating, and developing strategies for ethnographic practice. Finally, new aspects of basic academic activities for organizational ethnographers are identified.
In the form of hip hop lyrics, this research-creation tells the story a grant application writing process as a feature of neoliberal, academic capitalism. The lyrics draw attention to institutional and organizational features of the modern academic workplace, including the effects of performance evaluation structures and the financialization (Billig, 2013; Giroux, 2015) of academic work. It also highlights the intensification of work caused by bureaucratization – not only by the workplace, but by external granting agencies who exert varying degrees of control over academic labour.
Researchers apply theories by Boje and the storytelling community to further understand how organizations, specifically universities, portray themselves on different fronts through storytelling in regard to sustainability. The current study expands the existing knowledge regarding stories (i.e. narrative, living story, antenarrative, and microstoria) by the synergies and lack thereof between them and demonstrates how organizations need to portray a unified image since stories can, and do, shape the physical, objective world. Two complementary studies are conducted to explore the sustainability story of university campuses. In Study One, three southwestern university campuses are explored through campus tour narratives. Study Two looks in-depth at one university to help understand how the story is told from inside the organization which leads to what is observed by the final consumer. Several inconsistencies are found on how the story is told to prospective students. The storytelling theories presented in this paper expand knowledge by providing insight into how one individual may change the perspective of sustainability and the lasting effects this may cause. Being present on several campuses paints a picture of how vastly different the stories told to potential students are. Applying the theories of narrative, living story, and antenarrative may help explain how synergic a university presents its sustainability objective to prospective students.
This paper considers dilemmas for organization and management scholars studying and writing about environmental sustainability. It suggests that sustainability requires new ways of thinking which in turn require new forms of representation to help foster their emergence. Consequently, the paper partly takes the experimental form of a ‘metalogue’ (Bateson, 1972), in which the structure of the conversation between the authors is intended to be reflective of the content of the problematic subject discussed, in this case their experiences of trying to raise critical questions about scholarship for sustainability. This experimental form, which invites the reader to eschew expectations of typical points of orientation, enables an appreciation of how forms of argument seem to replicate epistemological challenges in the sustainability field. The paper shows how metaloguing becomes not only an alternative form but also an inquiry process for considering sustainability that can support embodied reflexivity, critical questioning and appreciation of entanglements of people-scholars.
This article presents the idea of mapping organizational learning as a way of doing organizational ethnography. It suggests that organizational learning is a (re)assemblage of human and non-human and material and immaterial forces that reverberate in networks of lived stories. Mapping is suggested as a process of collecting and writing about lived stories as they emerge in different historical, geographical and material conditions. It is seen as a way of capturing a dynamic, changing and unfolding network of stories that are tied together, but are still disparate from one another. The article ties the idea of mapping to regional development projects concerned with the actualization of the bio-economy.
Amid the disempowerment and marginalization faced by young girls, character development programs are being implemented to change the course for girls by fostering strong and empowered feminine identities. I explore the challenges of implementing one such program through my ethnographic and community engaged research with a character development program designed to equip 3rd through 5th grade girls with the skills and confidence they need to grow into empowered women. Through a qualitative analysis, I empirically demonstrate the importance of community engaged scholarship for uniting theory with practice. My analysis extends research exploring community engaged, empowerment programs by highlighting the ways empowerment is experienced differently by every girl. I point to the tension between empowerment in theory and in practice, specifically addressing the assumptions: 1) of girls’ uniform experience base, 2) about the influence of the GRL message among competing others, and 3) regarding the utility of certain strategies in diverse situations, all of which undermine the process of empowerment. I describe my experience working with the founder of the organization to revise the curriculum and offer a set of practical implications for this and similar organizations to productively respond to the tensions between the theory and practice of empowerment. Finally, I argue for a conceptual shift in the way we theorize empowerment as an ongoing and constantly negotiated state of engagement, rather than an endpoint or stable state of being.
Contemporary organizations feature absence of boundaries and are increasingly defined by loose couplings, pluri-vocality and network configurations. What Foucault (1995) addressed as a former society of discipline is transformed and replaced into what Deleuze (1995) refines as a society of control that incorporates its subjects into new and ever changing lines of subjectification. This transformation of dispositifs (Deleuze, 1992; Foucault, 1980) and authoritative discourses (Bakhtin, 1982) that compose (and is composed of) a contemporary way of living induces in other words new types of embodied organizational knowledge and ways of organizing, which have consequences for how subject positions are (re)configured in everyday corporate lives. Such identity work is rarely studied in local discursive practices of today’s modern and emergent corporations. The aspiration in the present article is to scrutinize local practices in a dialogue based leadership development forum in university settings. This provides insights into the lived lives and identity work in Aalborg University representing a temporary, polyphonic and cross-disciplinary research project in a modern corporation. The project was an example of a loose-coupled and temporary arrangement/organization that invited a diverse group of participants to engage in the co-production of knowledge in/on leadership communicative practices. The participants were professional leaders from diverse organizations in the North of Jutland together with researchers and candidate students from the study programs of communication and philosophy at Aalborg University.
Communities face complex problems that are best addressed by integrating the perspectives of multiple disciplines, yet many forms of engaged scholarship remain disciplinarily specific. Universities struggle to bring together highly disparate disciplines linking knowledge with action to address community problems. Sustainability is an important example of a complex, urgent problem that is best addressed by integrating multiple disciplines. In the United States, a unique multi-year initiative, Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), addresses sustainability problems by working across disciplines on engaged research. Scholars, representing multiple disciplines and most of the higher education institutions in the state, working with their community partners, are addressing sustainability problems related to landscape change, specifically urbanization, forest ecosystem management, and climate change. This initiative is composed of over two dozen interdisciplinary, engaged research projects that include diverse stakeholders (e.g., nongovernmental organizations, communities, policy organizations, and governmental leaders) as members of the research teams. Reflecting on the challenges of involving multiple disciplines in research projects, we discuss SSI as an exemplar of interdisciplinary, engaged campus initiatives. The scale and reach of the initiative (on-campus and statewide), the number of disciplines and stakeholders involved in the project, and the conversations around engaged scholarship occurring at the University of Maine capture the challenges and opportunities of moving the scholarship of engagement beyond the isolated work of individual disciplines.
Building on conceptions of democratic engagement, we explicate the epistemological and political commitments of engaged scholarship tied to deliberative democracy that responds to the neutrality challenge of doing impactful political work without advocating for a particular political position. The Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) provides a model of democratic engagement by serving as an impartial resource for its community, in part by training students to be facilitators of public processes. This type of democratic engagement can cultivate mutual benefits for students, professors, universities, community organizations, and citizens. We offer a principle of passionate impartiality for guiding process-design and facilitation. Passionately impartial scholars and students are passionate about their community, democracy, and solving problems but are nonetheless committed to serving a primarily impartial, process-focused role in order to improve local communication practices. Drawing on challenges from critical theory and the academy, we offer a nuanced account of what it means to negotiate the tensions between serving an impartial role while also upholding democratic values of equality and inclusion.
We are pleased to offer this special issue on community-engaged scholarship. As scholar-activists working for social justice alongside youth of color (Pat) and critical arts activists engaging with stigmatized communities (Ester), we began this project with the intent of gathering a collection of essays operating against the traditional colonizing methodologies that have been the hallmarks of social/science research for centuries (Smith, 1999). In organization studies, this tradition includes Kurt Lewin’s 20th century research studies that laid the groundwork for participatory approaches to system change, but which offered no critique or analysis of the broader societal structures of power that embed such change (Adelman, 1993). For this special issue, we called for essays that would attend to issues of power in the participative research process, and with a conscious aim toward decolonizing research that exposes and challenges inequalities in the production, outcomes, and sharing of research content. Also, our intent was to collect essays that would highlight the ways scholars are grappling with some of the “prickly” issues (to use the apt term provided by of one of the contributions to this special issue, Schaefer & Rivera) in community-engaged scholarship—issues that emerge at the intersection between the political and the theoretical and which are at the forefront of conversations both inside and outside the traditional boundaries of academe.
This article reports the author's experience of working in telesales. Through a call center, the case study company sells home improvements. The article describes the everyday organizational life of the telesales unit. Using this autoethnographic experience, the article analyses the organization of work-time in call centers. In particular, the article probes how commission constitutes a form of piece-wage. This piece-wage assists the manipulation of working hours. It does so by masking their extension. To understand this, the article appliesthe conceptual tools of Marx’sCapital. Marx directs attention to how
capitalists organise time in the pursuit of surplus-value. The autoethnographic account explores the application of this to call-center work. Flexible working arrangements and zero-hour contracts extend work-time. A pay framework based around commission and performance-linked piece-wages conceals this.In the case study, there is an absence of technology as productivity-raising measure or means of control. This challenges existing Foucauldian approaches to call-center work. It suggests that traditional forms of capitalist domination-the contract, the wage, time organization- are highly relevant to the call-center context.
This paper responds to current interest in the ‘untold’ in organizational storytelling research. In particular the research presented here contributes to studies that consider storytelling in relational terms. In this context, untold is constructed as both a provocation and a pointer to multiplicity: innumerable relationships of story. To develop and illustrate the argument of the paper, the discussion adopts interference as a deliberate methodological device. To illustrate the significance of composition and fabrication in storytelling the study consider fragments from an extensive period of multi-site ethnographic fieldwork with a professional, established and award winning author involved in literary, television drama and other story projects. The developing field of relational storytelling studies is discussed and attention drawn to key research foci: specifically current concerns for intertextuality, heteroglossia, materiality and flux. A fieldwork vignette is used to examine and extend a relational sense of ‘untold stories’. Further vignettes and a selective focus on science and technology studies relational ethnographies extends this discussion by focusing on performance, fabrication and fiction. The paper concludes that a fabrication sensibility that notices and attends to story on the move necessitates a shift in both methodological and representational strategy. In terms of method the paper demonstrates the potential value of extended, multi locational and deep field ethnography. In terms of representation, if stories are innumerable than we require a number of monograph ethnographies that can reveal and attend to varieties of limitless material, mobile and heterogeneous stories. In other words, if stories are lived, we require methods that attend to social life as lived if we are to surface and reframe hitherto untold, unseen and unheard agency at work in organizations.
Standing Conference for Management and Organization Inquiry (sc’Moi) is coming undone, in the process of ending its 25-year conference run, and being dismembered, its members leaving for other conferences. The purpose of my talk is to develop a Hegel and Žižek understanding of the dialectic of storytelling of sc’MOI. Žižek claims that Hegelian dialectics is making a comeback because it is uniquely suited to our time. Unlike the usual erroneous oversimplified formula reading of Hegel (thesis-antithesis- synthesis), I will assert there is no synthesis, Marx rejection of ‘Spirit’ and Adorno’s turning dialectic into a pursuit of objectivity, leaves us with a shallow dialectics. By reclaiming the ‘Spirit’ in relation to system and science as well as materiality in Hegelian dialect, we have a new way to understand sc’MOI. Spirit is not about religion, but rather it is the experience of Reason in action and Being. Spirit stands in dialectic relation to the system principles (abstract, schemata), and to system that becomes science. In addition, Spirit’s relation to system is worked out in space, in time, in mattering, or what Karen Barad calls spacetimemattering. Looking at the history of sc’MOI, I will claim sc’MOI never was a whole system, but rather a systemicity of unmerged and unfinalized parts in search of a whole. sc’MOI is was part of the umbrella conference (International Academy of Business Disciplines) until Boje was beheaded as IABD conference president, and three divisions of IABD jumped ship to start sc’MOI in 2004, and held its first conference in 2005. From 1993 till 2004, that means sc’MOI was only a potentiality, a shadowy outline of a conference, not actually coordinating its own location, audiovisuals, meals, coffee, setting its own schedule and business meeting, etc. Even after 2005, sc’MOI did not get its legs, did not merge its processes, did not sustain economically or socially as a robust alternative to the Academy of Management (AOM) conference, ever its nemesis. As sc’MOI prepares to dismember its membership and re member its past, sc’MOI is without beginning, middle, and end. Its Spirit lives on, as do its materials: proceedings, paper presentations, receipts for room rentals and airline seats. sc’MOI is a movement, an opposition to modernity in its critical postmodernism, to corporate university, to TQM, reengineering, AACSB, to war, to globalization, to humanism in its posthumanism, and to unsustainability. Best to dismember before all of sc’MOI is unsustainable, its systemicity unraveling, its unfulfilled science, and only the sc’MOI Spirit actually can live on.
The following study will explore the stories which are not told – that is, it will scrutinize the process of intertextual emergence of an ultimately open story: one which has neither discernible authorship nor agenda and which remains in-the-making rather than strives to achieve closure. The paper will discuss the process in which multifaceted and multidirectional organizational stories are created, in which plots and characters exchange and ‘ending’ is defied. This lack of closure is perceived here as a breeding ground for networked meanings, which, if allowed to remain interdependent and plural, eschew the danger of a new organizational story becoming universal carrier of inflexibly established contents. Since the unifying semantic organizational frameworks (e.g. ‘success story’) may be construed as impostors attempting to ascribe both authorship and agency to a nonagentical and non-authored ‘untold story’, this study proposes one way in which multidirectedness and plurality of the story may be preserved.
This article is based on an empirical study of employees’ experience of downsizing at a US air carrier called Vimanas Airline (a pseudonym) and includes forty two semi-structured interviews with captains and co-pilots who worked at that airline. The product of a fruitful collaboration between an experienced researcher and former Vimanas co-pilot, the paper explores how a new regime of corporeal power and panoptic organizational discourses produced commercial pilots’ subjectivity by first creating loyal company employees who actively participated in their own acculturation. Later, after airline restructuring, pilots modified their thinking and behaviour in an effort to maintain some sense of power, dignity, agency, and identity, resisting managerial efforts at further colonization. It became clear that complex and partly competing reality construction processes were at play. Contrary to previous research finding employees to often be complicit rather than resistant to managerial control efforts, particularly during times of corporate crisis, this study reports airline employees both participated in, yet later resisted managerial control efforts. Prompted by one of our respondents we refer to this colonization process as ‘bodysnatching’ with reference to the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
While the nature, character and function of stories are variously theorized in organizational storytelling literature, little research has tried to unpack how organizational narrative domain may transform over time. Attending to the contextual transformation of organizational story space can reveal how popular stories at one epoch could be reformulated, ignored, or forgotten all together during another epoch. Drawing on ethnographic data of a children’s charity in UK, which experienced a stage of rapid professionalization, specialization, and bureaucratization, I examine the influence of this restructuring initiative on the organizational narrative domain. It was shown that the professionalization of the charity starved the old stories of the oxygen of relevance. The memories of the old pioneers, from the days of stress and violence, became less welcome as the organization turned increasingly managerial in character. The notion of ‘irrelevancy’ is further developed drawing on the work of Maurice Halbwachs, and its implications are elaborated building on storytelling research.
The paper discusses organizational planning and decision making as situated materialsemiotic practices in which various local and non-local meaningful elements (e.g. texts and photos) are invocated and resemiotized. The discussion is based on an analysis of a seminar meeting where different stakeholders (researchers, family members, etc.) could put forward their ideas and wishes about the facilities of a soon-to-be-built care home for people with brain injury. In other words, the seminar was part of a wider diagnostic endeavor that was to be started in a specially designed building. The future occupants themselves could not be present to express any views; their point of view was mediated by others. The paper discusses with what communicative resources this mediation was done and how the performance was geared to the audience present. The analytical focus will be how in one talk the speaker makes a transition from sharing experiences to making specific suggestions.