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Publications (10 of 16) Show all publications
Butler, N. & Spoelstra, S. (2024). Redemption Through Play? Exploring the Ethics of Workplace Gamification. Journal of Business Ethics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Redemption Through Play? Exploring the Ethics of Workplace Gamification
2024 (English)In: Journal of Business Ethics, ISSN 0167-4544, E-ISSN 1573-0697Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Today, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to harness the spirit of play in order to increase worker engagement and improve organizational performance. This paper examines the ethics of play in a business context, focusing specifically on the phenomenon of workplace gamification. While critics highlight ethical problems with gamification, they also advocate for more positive, transformative, and life-affirming modes of organizational play. Gamification is ethical, on this view, when it allows users to reach a state of authentic happiness or eudaimonia. The underlying assumption, here, is that the ‘magic circle’ of play—a sphere that exists entirely for its own sake—should be protected in order to secure meaningfulness at work. However, we argue that this faith in play is misguided because play, even at its most autotelic, is ethically ambivalent; it does not lead inexorably to virtuous work environments, but may in fact have an undesirable impact on those who are playing. Our study thus contributes to research on the ‘dark side’ of organizational play, a strand of scholarship that questions the idea that play always points toward the good life.

Keywords
Ethics, Gamification, Philosophy
National Category
Business Administration Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-226070 (URN)10.1007/s10551-023-05584-w (DOI)001138467300002 ()2-s2.0-85181942152 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2024-02-01 Created: 2024-02-01 Last updated: 2024-02-01
Butler, N. (2024). The Trouble with Jokes: Humour and Offensiveness in Contemporary Culture and Politics. Bristol: Bristol University Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Trouble with Jokes: Humour and Offensiveness in Contemporary Culture and Politics
2024 (English)Book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2024
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-226232 (URN)9781529232547 (ISBN)
Available from: 2024-02-02 Created: 2024-02-02 Last updated: 2024-02-07Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. & Spoelstra, S. (2023). What is the point of method sections?. Organization, 30(6), 1266-1272
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is the point of method sections?
2023 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323, Vol. 30, no 6, p. 1266-1272Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There are plenty of books and articles on research methods, but few discuss the nature and purpose of method sections in academic journals. Based on interviews with critical and interpretivist researchers, this short paper examines the nature and purpose of method sections in management and organization studies. We show how researchers make sense of, and struggle with, positivist expectations about the form and content of method sections. Ultimately, we call for greater openness about what method sections might look like and ask whether all academic articles need method sections.

Keywords
Academic publishing, critical management studies, methodology, interpretivism, qualitative research, transparency
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-220935 (URN)10.1177/13505084231183078 (DOI)001017128900001 ()2-s2.0-85163389047 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-09-18 Created: 2023-09-18 Last updated: 2024-01-16Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. & Spoelstra, S. (2023). "You just earned 10 points!": Gaming and grinding in academia. Organization, 135050842211455
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"You just earned 10 points!": Gaming and grinding in academia
2023 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This short paper explores the gamification of an online academic conference. At the conference, digital gamification was meant to stimulate increased levels of participation among attendees. Instead, it resulted in a series of unintended consequences. Precisely because it was all too easy to score points and ascend the virtual leaderboard by means of machine-like grinding, the “Conference Challenge” posed a moral dilemma for its players: each participant had to determine for themselves where the border lay between playing the game and gaming the system. We use this case to raise questions about the ethics of game-playing in an academic context. In particular, we suggest that the Conference Challenge is a distorted reflection of what’s already happening in the broader “publication game” in the university.

Keywords
Academic conference, game-playing, gamification, publishing ethics
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-214558 (URN)10.1177/13505084221145589 (DOI)000908138500001 ()2-s2.0-85145926313 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-02-06 Created: 2023-02-06 Last updated: 2023-02-06
Spoelstra, S., Butler, N. & Delaney, H. (2021). Measures of Faith: Science and Belief in Leadership Studies. Journal of Management Inquiry, 30(3), 300-311
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Measures of Faith: Science and Belief in Leadership Studies
2021 (English)In: Journal of Management Inquiry, ISSN 1056-4926, E-ISSN 1552-6542, Vol. 30, no 3, p. 300-311Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

From its inception, leadership studies has embraced the positivist tradition of hypothesis testing. In this tradition, psychometric instruments are meant to ward off belief from scientific practice by testing theories against empirical facts. While leadership scholars purport to conform to the standards of value-neutral science, this paper tells a different story. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 39 positivist leadership researchers, we argue that leadership studies is heavily invested with faith in two main ways: (a) faith in leadership concepts, even when their accompanying measures fall short of methodological standards and (b) faith in leadership studies as a science, even when it is tainted by commercial interests and professional rewards. Ultimately, we suggest that positivist epistemology is accepted in leadership studies as an article of faith. By exploring the interconnection between science and belief in the business school, we draw attention to the secular religion of scientism in leadership studies.

Keywords
leadership, philosophy of science, faith, ethics, critical leadership studies
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-179506 (URN)10.1177/1056492620901793 (DOI)000512239300001 ()
Available from: 2020-03-09 Created: 2020-03-09 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. & Spoelstra, S. (2020). Academics at play: Why the publication game is more than a metaphor. Management Learning, 51(4), 414-430, Article ID 1350507620917257.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Academics at play: Why the publication game is more than a metaphor
2020 (English)In: Management Learning, ISSN 1350-5076, E-ISSN 1461-7307, Vol. 51, no 4, p. 414-430, article id 1350507620917257Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is increasingly common to describe academic research as a publication game, a metaphor that connotes instrumental strategies for publishing in highly rated journals. However, we suggest that the use of this metaphor is problematic. In particular, the metaphor allows scholars to make a convenient, but ultimately misleading, distinction between figurative game-playing on one hand (i.e. pursuing external career goals through instrumental publishing) and proper research on the other hand (i.e. producing intrinsically meaningful research). In other words, the publication game implies that while academic researchers may behave just like players, they are not really playing a game. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, we show that this metaphor prevents us, ironically, from fully grasping the lusory attitude, or play-mentality, that characterizes academic work among critical management researchers. Ultimately, we seek to stimulate reflection about how our choice of metaphor can have performative effects in the university and influence our behavior in unforeseen and potentially undesirable ways.

Keywords
Academic labor, metaphors, publication game, research assessment exercises
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-182966 (URN)10.1177/1350507620917257 (DOI)000534611500001 ()
Available from: 2020-07-07 Created: 2020-07-07 Last updated: 2022-03-23Bibliographically approved
Collins, D. & Butler, N. (2020). Success and Failure in Professional Projects: The Nature, Contours and Limits of Consulting Professionalism. British Journal of Management, 31(3), 457-469
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Success and Failure in Professional Projects: The Nature, Contours and Limits of Consulting Professionalism
2020 (English)In: British Journal of Management, ISSN 1045-3172, E-ISSN 1467-8551, Vol. 31, no 3, p. 457-469Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper offers an analysis of the professional project that was pursued by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) on behalf of its members. The paper builds on Sturdy's (2011) call to develop empirically grounded accounts of the ways and means of consulting. In addition, it responds to the analysis of the Association of Project Management (APM) developed by Hodgson, Paton and Muzio (2015), which invited further comparative study of professional projects. Drawing on archive data, this paper develops a comparative analysis that considers four key themes: (1) the professionalization strategies developed by the IMC and the APM; (2) jurisdictional issues and shifts in the fields of consulting and project management; (3) the structure of credentials developed for practitioners in both arenas; and (4) the attitudes and actions of key stakeholders shaping policy in the APM and the IMC. The paper examines the contrasting fortunes of the APM and the IMC, yet observes similarities in working practices across these apparently distinct settings. Reflecting on this comparison, the authors consider the nature, contours and limits of consulting professionalism and conclude with the suggestion that, within the analysis of professional projects, conventional conceptualizations of 'success' and 'failure' should be considered as 'impostors'.

National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-183962 (URN)10.1111/1467-8551.12331 (DOI)000546412300006 ()
Available from: 2020-09-23 Created: 2020-09-23 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. (2018). Fantasies of strategy: Žižek, discourse and enjoyment. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 53, 79-88
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fantasies of strategy: Žižek, discourse and enjoyment
2018 (English)In: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, ISSN 1045-2354, E-ISSN 1095-9955, Vol. 53, p. 79-88Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper draws on the work of Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Žižek to explore the ideological fantasies of strategy. Specifically, the paper argues that the academic field of strategy-as-practice (SAP) quilts a set of organizational activities and practices around the master signifier of 'strategy'. This means that SAP theory circles around a void that its proponents seek to fill through an endless search for the objet petit a, the paradoxical object-cause of desire. The paper demonstrates this by showing how the SAP literature conceptualizes the practice of strategy in a circular and self-referential way, i.e. as an effect that respectively posits its own cause. The illusion is that the practice of strategy appears to be present from the very beginning in the SAP literature, when it has been constituted post factum. Ultimately, the paper seeks traverse the fantasy of strategy and reveal the surplus enjoyment at the heart of SAP theory. The paper concludes by exploring alternative ways of understanding the practice of strategy from the perspective of the transgressive 'act' (passage a l'acte).

Keywords
Ideology, Master-signifier, Objet petit a, Strategy-as-practice, Žižek
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159159 (URN)10.1016/j.cpa.2017.03.006 (DOI)000437994700007 ()
Available from: 2018-08-27 Created: 2018-08-27 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. & Russell, D. S. (2018). No funny business: Precarious work and emotional labour in stand-up comedy. Human Relations, 71(12), 1666-1686
Open this publication in new window or tab >>No funny business: Precarious work and emotional labour in stand-up comedy
2018 (English)In: Human Relations, ISSN 0018-7267, E-ISSN 1741-282X, Vol. 71, no 12, p. 1666-1686Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Freelance creative work is a labour of love where opportunities for self-expression are combined with exploitative working conditions. This article explores this dynamic by showing how a group of freelance creative labourers navigate employment while coping with the pressures associated with economic precarity. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, we argue that full-time stand-up comedians engage in 'pecuniary' forms of emotion management in an occupational field where social networks and professional relationships play a prominent role. First, comedians project an image of positivity to demonstrate a willingness to work for little or no pay in order to curry favour with comedy club promoters. Second, comedians suppress feelings of anxiety and frustration that arise from financial insecurity in order to keep their relationships with promoters on an even keel - even when the rate of pay and promptness of remuneration fall below acceptable standards. Our study thus has implications for other creative sectors in which precarity is the norm, since it suggests that emotional labour is a resource not only for engaging with customers and clients but also for engaging with multiple employers, negotiating pay and dealing with conditions of insecurity in freelance settings - often with unintended, paradoxical, results.

Keywords
creative labour, emotional labour, freelance work, precarity, stand-up comedy
National Category
Economics and Business Other Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-162834 (URN)10.1177/0018726718758880 (DOI)000449033000005 ()
Available from: 2018-12-10 Created: 2018-12-10 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Butler, N. (2018). Publish and perish: Clark, T., M. Wright and D.J. Ketchen, Jr. (eds.) (2016) How to get published in the best management journals. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham and Northampton, Mass. [Review]. Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, 18(2), 411-416
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Publish and perish: Clark, T., M. Wright and D.J. Ketchen, Jr. (eds.) (2016) How to get published in the best management journals. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham and Northampton, Mass.
2018 (English)In: Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, ISSN 2052-1499, E-ISSN 1473-2866, Vol. 18, no 2, p. 411-416Article, book review (Other academic) Published
Keywords
academia, publishing, journals, ethics
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-164236 (URN)
Available from: 2019-01-14 Created: 2019-01-14 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-7279-663x

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