Unraveling selves: A Butlerian reading of managerial subjectives during organizational change.
|Ford, Jackie M.
|Harding, Nancy H.
|Mischenko, Jane E.
|This poststructuralist research into managerial subjectivity follows ten senior managers’ experience, during significant organizational restructuring in the National Health Service. Located in the North of England the managers were interviewed three times during an eighteen-month period. An autoethnographic component is integral to the study; this recognises the researcher was a practising manager undergoing the same organizational change, whilst researching the field. Judith Butler’s theories provide the principle theoretical framework for the study. Whilst the managers narrated a fantasy of having a ‘true’ and coherent self, the research illustrated how fragile, fleeting and temporary each managerial self is and how passionately attached to their managerial subjectivity (despite how painful) they were. Emotion is presented as inextricably tied up with gender performativity and managerial subjectivity; despite best efforts the emotional ‘dirt’ of organizations cannot be ordered away; there is a constant seepage and spillage of emotion – as illustrated in the vignettes and profiled in the Butlerian deconstruction. During organizational change there was a fear of a social (organizational) death and even the most senior of managers were profoundly vulnerable. This fear and vulnerability heightened in contact with others perceived as more powerful (in critical conversations and interviews). Failure to receive the desired recognition and the risk of being organizationally unintelligible compounded this vulnerability and triggered recurrent, unpredictable patterns of loss, ek-stasis and unravelling of the managerial self. This acute vulnerability during restructuring anticipates and therefore (re) enacts a Machiavellian discourse, one that excuses unethical behaviour and relations as a ‘necessary evil’.
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|NHS, Judith Butler, Poststructuralist, Managers, Organizational change, Identity, Subjectivity, Gender, Ethical relations
|Unraveling selves: A Butlerian reading of managerial subjectives during organizational change.
|University of Bradford
|School of Management