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Freedom at work in the age of post-bureaucratic organizations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School, Management & Organisation. School of Economics, Gothenburg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
2007 (English)In: Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, ISSN 1473-2866, Vol. 7, no 4, 555-574 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A central issue in critical organization studies has been whether the transformation from bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic principles of exercising power increases or decreases individuals’ freedom at work. This essay develops the argument that the transformation from bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic power implicates neither an increase nor a decrease of individuals’ freedom, but a reconfiguration of the nature of individuals’ freedom. By way of an analytical distinction between freedom as autonomy and freedom as potential it is argued that the two dominant views in critical organization studies are partly misplaced. The post-bureaucratic subject does not emerge as a ‘slave’ that is subtly forced to subordinate its very self to corporate values, as one strand of critical organization studies has it, nor as a ‘silent rebel’, that escapes totalitarian subordination through micro – routine – resistance and ironic distance, as the other strand has it, but as an ‘opportunist’, who, in the process of trying to seize on given opportunities, must fight against any form of subordination – even the subordination to his or her own self. Rather than totalitarianism, it is concluded that the risk of post-bureaucracy is its tendency to make freedom a privilege of those with potential, and of pushing others into vicious circles of opportunism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 7, no 4, 555-574 p.
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-56402OAI: diva2:411042
Available from: 2011-04-15 Created: 2011-04-15 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved

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Maravelias, Christian
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