Contemporary Management Issues Essay

9331 Words Mar 3rd, 2007 38 Pages
WORKERS PLAYTIME? UNRAVELLING THE PARADOX OF COVERT RESISTANCE IN ORGANIZATIONS

Peter Fleming
p.fleming1@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au

André Spicer
a.spicer@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au

Department of Management
University of Melbourne
Parkville, Vic 3010
Australia

Chapter for Paradoxical New Directions in Organization and Management Theory. Edited by Stewart Clegg. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

(Second Draft) July 2001

The problem of whether employee resistance is possible under corporate relations of power that target the very hearts and minds of workers has become an increasingly important issue in recent critical organization studies. With the advent of ‘cultural cleansing' (Strangleman and Roberts, 1999), ‘designer selves' (Casey,
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Although cynicism, for example, may not necessarily yield higher wages it may still challenge in transformative ways the emotional or ‘psychic' status quo of organizational life. Resistances to different status quo, however, are not mutually exclusive as they may interact in complex, ambiguous and often paradoxical ways. That is to say, humour, irony and cynicism may be subversive on one set of co-ordinates but have spill over effects that either support or undermine resistances on other levels.

In order to think about resistance in this multiple sense we develop the notion of ‘plateaux of power and resistance' to conceptualise different articulations of force and their respective oppositions. The concept draws upon a spatial metaphor for the purpose of teasing out the multifarious power and resistance relations present in organizations and illustrate how they are not isolated from one another or mutually exclusive. They may overlap, collide and interrelate in unpredictable ways with different outcomes. Whether humour, irony and cynicism undermine or support traditional forms of organized resistance such as unionism or collective action, for example, becomes an important issue to explore in specific contexts.
Resistance to corporate colonisation?
The emergence of culture engineering and normative control as prominent mechanisms of control in contemporary organizations has received much attention in organization studies. The so-called guru's of culture

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