Light in the darkness?:managers in the back office of a Kafkaesque bank

McCabe, Darren (2014) Light in the darkness?:managers in the back office of a Kafkaesque bank. Organization Studies, 35 (2). pp. 255-278. ISSN 0170-8406

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Abstract

The ‘dark side’ of organizations has been represented in the literature as dysfunctional or abnormal, while more critical scholars regard it a condition of the ‘normal’ way in which organizations operate within a capitalist system. Drawing on the work of Franz Kafka, this paper develops a critique of both approaches. It is argued that we can learn much from Kafka because his representations challenge a top-down view of power and, therefore, suggest that there is light in the darkness. These insights are applied to a case study of a United Kingdom bank, to explore how managers, who are often neglected in critical accounts, are constituted through power relations, and how in the process of enrolling and controlling others, they discipline themselves. In taking this approach, the paper makes four main contributions. First, it elucidates how the ‘dark side’ has become an integral feature of everyday life in a contemporary organization and, second, it indicates limitations to the power that managers are able to exercise. Third, it explores how managers are fabricated as particular types of subject as they endeavour to discipline others, and finally it argues that whole layers of management can be understood as victims of the ‘dark side’.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Organization Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1400/1405
Subjects:
ID Code:
71125
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
06 Oct 2014 15:27
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
11 Jun 2020 03:25