‘There is a crack in everything’:An ethnographic study of pragmatic resistance in a manufacturing organization

McCabe, D. and Ciuk, Sylwia and Gilbert, Margaret (2020) ‘There is a crack in everything’:An ethnographic study of pragmatic resistance in a manufacturing organization. Human Relations, 73 (7). pp. 953-980. ISSN 0018-7267

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Why is resistance a pervasive feature of organizations? We seek to add to the established ways of understanding resistance by arguing that it may emerge owing to the rationality and irrationality, order and disorder that imbues organizations. We explore how such conditions create ambivalent situations that can generate resistance that is ambivalent itself as it can both facilitate and hinder the operation of organizations. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in a manufacturing organization, we introduce the concept of pragmatic resistance as a means to grasp the everyday resistance that emerges through and reflects cracks in the rational model of organizations. Rather than being anti-work, we demonstrate how pragmatic resistance is bound up with organizational disorder/irrationality, competing work demands and the prioritization of what is interpreted as ‘real work’. Overall, the concept of pragmatic resistance indicates that resistance may be far more pervasive and organizations more fragile and vulnerable to disruption than is often assumed to be the case.

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Journal Article
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Human Relations
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Human Relations, 73 (7), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Human Relations page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/hum on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/
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18 Jul 2019 09:35
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:36