For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Strength is ignorance; slavery is freedom: Managing culture in modern organizations"

by Willmott, Hugh (1993)


The article subjects the assumptions and prescriptions of the ‘Corporate Culture’ literature to critical scrutiny. The body of the article is devoted to teasing out the distinctive basis of its appeal compared with earlier management theory. It is seen to build upon earlier efforts (e.g. ‘theory Y’) to constitute a self-disciplining form of employee subjectivity by asserting that ‘practical autonomy’ is conditional upon the development of a strong corporate culture. The paper illuminates the dark side of this project by drawing attention to the subjugating and totalitarian implications of its excellence/ quality prescriptions. To this end, parallels are drawn with the philosophy ofcontrol favoured by the Party in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Specifically, the paper critiques the ‘doublethink’ contention that autonomy can be realized in monocultural conditions that systematically constrain opportunities to wrestle with competing values standpoints and their associated life projects.


Foucault, Orwell, Totalitarianism, Control, Discipline, Slavery, Alienation, Corporate Culture, Culture, Resistance


On Foucault, Foucault, Critical Management Studies, Organisation and Management Studies

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