This paper looks at a theoretical framework recently developed by Paul Jackson (1997) that adopts the information systems metaphor as a means to understand the representational aspects of organisation. Jackson’s approach particularly highlights the role of information systems (IS) in the representation of space and time and the depolitizisation of organisational space and time. However, this paper suggests that the framework can be improved even further, especially through a fuller consideration of the works of Cooper (1992) on displacement, abbreviation and remote control, and Zuboff (1988) on the concept of ‘informate’. After the modified framework is presented, it is then illustrated by reference to an empirical piece of research undertaken within a major UK business (referred to as CallCentre). The research focuses on problems encountered within a call centre structure where information systems are being applied to automate many of the processes involved in servicing customers. One of the major issues emerging from the analysis is the value of creating representational space within which stakeholders can negotiate meanings. It is suggested that this activity will present a significant challenge to the dominant ideology of managerial control.
Carr and Zanetti use the optic of dialectics to reframe the question and revisit the issues of identity and agency afresh. The central argument they pose is that text is both a product and site of political struggle and only by understanding text in such a way does the multi-authorship of identity itself become understandable along with the limitations and possibilities for self authorship of identity.
In 'The normalization of 'sensible' recreational drug use' Parker, Williams and Aldridge (2002) present data on illegal drug use by adolescents and young adults in the UK. They argue that it is both widespread and largely socially benign - ie, normal. We contrast this 'normalisation' thesis with evidence of an increase in the introduction of drug policies - and drug testing - in British organisations. Such policies construct employee drug use as excessive enough to necessitate heightened management vigilance over workers, in order to preserve corporate interests. These contrasting representations of drug use inspire our discussion. We deploy the normal/ excessive couplet to unpick drug taking, to examine organisational drug policies and to comment upon emerging and potential resistance to these policies. Our contribution is to suggest that each of these activities can be understood as simultaneously normal and excessive, in an area where orthodox and critical analyses alike tend to be far more dualistic.
Security work is increasingly privatized under neoliberal governance, a trend that is not without controversy over legitimacy and ethics. Public interaction with and understanding of private security contractors is in part mediated by popular cultural representations. In particular, parodies of these organizations are significant for their ability to tell audiences what organizations and members are not. This paper examines representations of security work by looking at Paul Blart: Mall Cop as a parody that creates relief from official hierarchies of security using Bakhtinian carnival, by lowering security discourses to the level of the grotesque, non-professional body. However, parodies may also encourage public acceptance of privatization by showing private security workers to be more creative and efficient. Parodies of security work can serve as temporary relief from daily need to comply with security regimes, while also aligning privatized security work with discourses of professionalism and authority.
This paper reflects upon the 'goodness' or 'ethics' of Critical Management/Critical Organisation Studies (COS) research practices. I argue that academic representations of others entail an ethical responsibility to the researched, a responsibility that COS is, as yet, insufficiently exploring. Reflecting upon my own research with those who have colluded in discrimination and Stanley and Wise's (1979) research on obscene telephone callers, I explore the nature and limits of responsibility when researching those who have acted reprehensibly. I end by arguing that COS "owe(s) some responsibility to 'the researched' of all kinds, whether we morally approve of them or not" (Stanley and Wise 1993:177).
This paper argues that conventional patriarchal representations of the organisation reduce the notion of "organisation" to abstract relationships, rational actions and purposive behaviour which always and relentlessly presents itself as a quest for the good. In this context, regulation and control is achieved primarily via definition and location. Administration then functions in a very specific sense to establish a notion of "good"order, to establish what is "ordinary"in administrative and managerial practice. In contrast, this paper seeks to explore ways in which it is possible to restore the (m)other to the text of organisation, to restore the body. Consequently, the paper considers the possibility of a discourse of maternity and moves from this position to examine conceptions of matrix reproduction and conditions of exile. The paper concludes with a challenge to conventional notions of "good" management and a consideration of the implications of this for the political in organisational life.
Discusses articles on management and conception of goodness. Relationship between management and goodness; Opposition to Aristotelian notions of the good; Discussion on the conventional patriarchal representations of the organization.
This article explores Surrealism as portrayed quite differently by the male and female artists of the movement. The article further explores the dialectical concept of synthesis as a representation of “simultaneous states” and envisions feminism as a synthesis in the current historical context.
Sexual harassment is a widespread organizational phenomenon and an evolving legal issue. There is a growing literature on sexual harassment, but a dearth of research on claims that have been pursued in the courts, especially outside the US context. The paper explores the organizational and legal context in which parties to claims are operating and presents a preliminary analysis of the population of sexual harassment cases heard by Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeals Tribunals 1995-2005. Core findings relate to the imbalance of power between parties to claims; an over-representation of claims from women in paraprofessional occupations; a notable proportion of owners or proprietors involved in cases, pointing to problems in small businesses; the predominant nature of claims clearly reflecting sexual harassment as an operation of power; and a range of outcomes relating to initial complaints of SH and to subsequent litigation. Policy and further research implications of these preliminary findings are discussed.
It is customary to promiscuously interconnect the well-established methodological conception of sociological reflexivity to multi-level metatheoretical analyses, representational tactics and strategies, self-conscious knowledge-production processes and, in general, epistemological questions and answers. However, Western reflexive thinking about culture, rationality, and scientific knowledge often tends to (somehow) reproduce the self-assured “one epistemological size fits all” standpoint of Eurocentrism, to arrogantly exclude alternative post-colonial theorizations and to implicitly ignore the irreducibility of the “ethical dimension”. The “reinvention” of this crucial dimension, within contemporary sociology and critical organizational research, entails the substantial incorporation of the “weak” performative circular reasoning as well as a new reflexive ethos and aesthetic of scientific modesty. The issue here is indeed the fruitful pluralist maximization of both ethical and cognitive possibilities. In this respect, the innovative “it could be otherwise” clause of radical intellectual inquiry remains central to our inter-disciplinary world- and self-accounts.
This paper explores how writing poetry came to make a significant contribution to an exploration of writing as a form of inquiry which questioned whether the process of writing can uncover and successfully express tacit, felt sense of knowing – aesthetics in the sensory embodied sense. An initial aleatory exploration with words led to the discovery of the potential of poetic language to express the inexpressible creating a poetic moment, where object merges with significance, the former opening up the latter. The writing also suggests that writing as a form of inquiry opens up opportunities for a more ethical writing through which there is increased capacity for researchers to ‘enter into the experiences of others’ with greater sensitivity and awareness. The documentation of the stages of the dynamic process of writing demonstrates how writing as a form of inquiry moves through a series of written representations suggesting that there is no difference between writing and field work as the fieldwork and writing blur into one, increasing the problem of representation.
This article is based on an ongoing organisational ethnography of antiquarian bookshops. It argues that studying the exchange of antiquarian books offers new insight on the phenomenon of gift-giving. First, the general tendency in the literature on gifts (i.e. Bourdieu and Derrida) is how gifts are commoditized, while in the antiquarian bookshop it makes more sense to consider how commodities are transformed into gifts. Second, the literature on gifts argues that actual gifts are either impossible or at least undecidable since they cause the receiver to be indebted to the giver, and a separation in time is necessary either to evaluate the gift or to make it possible. However, in the antiquarian bookshop this situation is different since such a debt is directed towards the book rather than the giver. The receiver is indeed indebted but the debt takes the form of a responsibility to care for the book. In analysing our material, we argue that every meeting between antiquarian and bookshop visitor results in liminal ceremonies that produce a space (what we, adopted from Lefebvre, call a representational space) for their interaction. Such analysis suggests that the interactions are taking place somewhere on a continuum of spaces stretching from commodity to gift. The role of the antiquarian thus stretches from seller to giver, the visitor, from buyer to receiver, and the bookshop, from shop to collection.
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 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.
This paper serves two purposes. First, a rereading of Douglas McGregor’s An uneasy look at performance appraisal serves to show how McGregor’s conceptualization of commitment as a question of integrating personal goals with organizational purpose has helped shape founding the modern understanding of corporate community representation. Second, we suggest that French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s concepts of fold, desire and interests can be useful in comprehending this modern form of corporate representation already present in McGregor’s text.