Authority and Autonomy: Paradoxes in Modern Knowledge Work by Susanne Ekman

By Susanne Ekman

Bargains a close and exciting research of the day-by-day interactions among managers and staff in artistic wisdom extensive enterprises. according to bright examples, the booklet indicates how either managers and staff entertain contradictory understandings in their mutual dedication.

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Extra resources for Authority and Autonomy: Paradoxes in Modern Knowledge Work

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These dualisms are control/resistance, structure/agency, and subject/object (Knights, 1997: 2; Parker, 1999: 27; Smith and Thompson, 1998: 560; Willmott, 2005: 749). This instigated a heated and sometimes downright ugly debate between more “classical” LPT researchers and the new poststructuralist camp. Other researchers have made the same points. For example, Dennis Mumby wrote that “the field of critical organization studies has evolved around an implicit binary opposition that privileges either organizational control processes or employee resistance to such mechanisms of control” (Mumby, 2005: 20).

Real resistance,” in Contu’s view, involves “radical freedom from, and suspension of, the pleasure principle and its utilitarian logic” (Contu, 2008: 375). It requires “risking all” in an act of “unadulterated freedom” (Contu, 2008: 376). ” This is indeed radical, and some might find it condescending. Once again, I am left with the impression that the critical scholar believes she understands “true freedom” better than the people she studies. Furthermore, Contu’s foundation for criticizing the present is an abstract ideal about absolutes: an absolute absence of fantasy; an absolute absence of need for guarantors; an absolute freedom.

Just like Willmott, Barker seems to operate with an implicit alternative to the current condition that involves an absence of control; a kind of “natural” state where individuals never experience fetters or the need to discipline inner authenticity for the sake of external goals. One wonders how Barker imagines a workplace based on such a “natural” state. How can the necessary ingredients of work – namely commitment and coordination – be practiced in the absence of rules and control? Operating with such abstract ideals as the backdrop for one’s research makes it very hard to translate into practical action and concrete improvements.

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