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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2009

Kate Kenny

The purpose of this paper is to add to current discussions on the use of Lacanian psychoanalysis in organizational change. Specifically, It argues that critiques of Lacan

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add to current discussions on the use of Lacanian psychoanalysis in organizational change. Specifically, It argues that critiques of Lacan's work must be acknowledged and incorporated into these discussions. To date, there remains a silence surrounding these critiques within organization studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents the existing studies that draw upon Lacan's work in the context of organizational change initiatives. It highlights the value of this theory. Next, it outlines critiques of Lacan's concepts of phallus and incest taboo, and show how these concepts can be exclusionary.

Findings

The paper finds that there remains little debate within organization studies around such critiques. Lacan tends to be employed in ways that risk reproducing particular, exclusionary aspects of his theory. A homophobic and patriarchal legacy persists in appropriations of his writing. It outlines alternative ways of reading Lacan, which aim to avoid such exclusions. It shows how introducing such alternatives is a difficult project, first, given the silence surrounding critiques of Lacan in the organizational change literature. Second, following Foucault, It argues that language has power: a patriarchal schema is self‐reinforcing in its persistence within a particular discipline, and thus difficult to dislodge.

Research limitations/implications

Given these findings, the paper concludes that organization theorists and practitioners ought to engage with critiques of Lacan's work, when employing it in their own. The silence surrounding such legacies is dangerous. It argues that the first step in engaging with Lacan's work should be to give voice to such critiques, if his writing is to be employed in the practice and study of organizational change.

Originality/value

This paper provides a unique engagement with Lacan's work in the context of the study and practice of organizational change interventions. It presents an evaluation of well‐known critiques and useful recommendations for theorists and practitioners considering a Lacanian approach to this area of management studies.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 April 2009

Casper Hoedemaekers

This paper seeks to explore the notion of desire in relation to subjectivity at work by drawing on the work of Jacques Lacan. It aims particularly to consider the possible…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore the notion of desire in relation to subjectivity at work by drawing on the work of Jacques Lacan. It aims particularly to consider the possible ways in which desire is evoked and channeled in managerial practices that are aimed at managing the self.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides an illustration of this by a reading of how developmental HRM practices attempt to elicit and channel subjects' desire.

Findings

Particular images promulgated by these practices appeal to the subject in such a way, that it becomes caught in a relationship of fascination with them. These practices thereby attempt to create identification with a fantasmatic image of the self, and in so doing, to shape subjectivity in line with managerial objectives. It is also argued that a different modality of relating to desire can provide a way of avoiding the most detrimental effects associated with these practices, and I indicate possible ways in which this different modality or “traversal” may take shape.

Originality/value

The paper analyzes the use of desire in management practices.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 September 2013

Gilles Arnaud and Stijn Vanheule

This paper aims to reflect on how Lacanian psychoanalysis might inform management studies, and discuss limitations and consequences of adopting this particular framework…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to reflect on how Lacanian psychoanalysis might inform management studies, and discuss limitations and consequences of adopting this particular framework for doing research in organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors integrate existing literature on the topic, and try to articulate what Lacanian psychoanalysis contributes to the study of organizations and management; what its conceptual premises are; and which methodological consequences these premises have. Special attention is paid to the epistemological position of Lacanian psychoanalysis, and to potential pitfalls in using Lacanian theory.

Findings

The authors highlight the danger of Lacanian theory functioning as a dogmatic interpretative frame, and suggest countering this tendency by accentuating both the spirit of investigation fostered by Lacan and the ethical stakes of psychoanalytic intervention. The authors equally contend that Lacanian psychoanalysis problematizes the underpinnings of scientific discourse in general, with the epistemological foundations of the social sciences being called into question. Finally, they note that the scientific character of Lacanian psychoanalysis is itself open to contestation if approached from a positivistic point of view. Addressing these objections, the authors argue for the possibility of a promising epistemological convergence between psychoanalysis and management studies.

Originality/value

Overall, the authors' point is that Lacanian theory is unique in its systematic study of the dimension of the excluded and that it is in the study of this dimension that the benefit for organization and management research is to be found.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 51 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 28 March 2015

David Crowther and Shahla Seifi

Facebook has become a phenomenon – used by millions all over the world. Supposedly its purpose is to enable us to keep in touch with our friends, although for some there…

Abstract

Purpose

Facebook has become a phenomenon – used by millions all over the world. Supposedly its purpose is to enable us to keep in touch with our friends, although for some there is a competitive element in collecting as many friends as possible. It is however difficult to believe that anyone has 900 genuine friends! So it is time to question the purpose of Facebook and the socially responsible purpose that it may or may not be fulfilling.

Methodology

A consideration of what is written by many people in their Facebook accounts shows that entries are often like personal musings. So we say things for ourselves – to express our feeling in mottos and references to songs, etc.

Findings

It seems that we are like Schrodingers cat and that we do not exist unless we are observed. So we put ourselves on Facebook to simulate existence. Thus, Facebook seems to have become a Baudrillardian simulacrum – more real than the real.

Implications

According to Jacques Lacan, the world is a mirror on which we express ourselves to ourselves. We use the Lacanian perspective to argue that social media has become the new mirror – easier and less threatening as we do not need interaction, only approval through the like function. This is arguably less challenging – to have a virtual life instead of a real one.

Originality/value

This is problematic, according to Lacanian theory but is a comment on modern society and the problem being caused. The relationship to social responsibility is explained in this chapter.

Details

Corporate Social Responsibility in the Digital Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-582-2

Article
Publication date: 28 June 2013

Alexis Downs and T. Beth Stetson

The question of whether the words “American Dream” point to something of substance is at the heart of the authors' inquiry. James Truslow Adams coined the term in his 1933…

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Abstract

Purpose

The question of whether the words “American Dream” point to something of substance is at the heart of the authors' inquiry. James Truslow Adams coined the term in his 1933 book The Epic of America as a way to re‐establish a sense of optimism decimated by the Great Depression. Adams' contribution was to move the public discourse from that of individual effort to a sense of a collective identity. The American Dream is an element of the “cultural stuff” whose singularity (“dream”) rapidly breaks down into a variety of interpretations about the American nation (“dreams”). The popular press suggests that the Dream proposes to balance collective membership in a national identity with the individual freedom to achieve prosperity and success. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the Dream and the construction of an American identity by examining the accounts of men who surely represent the American Dream: US Presidential candidates.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to analyze the candidates' accounts of themselves as committed to their American identity and to the American Dream, the authors view the tax returns and speeches of Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney through the lens of the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan and locate the American Dream as a construct of the imaginary and symbolic orders, as they are defined by Jacques Lacan. The inspirations for the authors' analysis are twofold. One is a 1953 report in which Lacan said, “The unconscious of the subject is the discourse of the other”. The authors argue that the American Dream is the “discourse of the other” and suggest that the American identity is decentered: i.e. a signifying construct (the American Dream) substitutes for identity. The second inspiration is a 2009 paper titled “No one is perfect” by John Roberts, who argues, “The ideal of a transparency pretends to a mere making visible […] [But] transparency works to advertise an ideal against which we will always fail”.

Findings

It was found that the candidates' efforts to be transparent advertise an ideal: in this study, the ideal is the ideal of a “perfect‐able” American who lives the American Dream. It is an ideal against which the candidates fail because it is the “discourse of the other”.

Research limitations/implications

This study has limitations. The subjects are two American citizens and the authors' interpretation might not be appropriate to other American citizens and residents.

Originality/value

The authors are aware of no other study that uses Lacanian psychoanalytic views to examine the American Dream.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 March 2012

Antonio Gelis‐Filho

The purpose of this paper is to present a metaphor of organizations as discursive gravitational fields.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a metaphor of organizations as discursive gravitational fields.

Design/methodology/approach

The metaphor was built based on Einstein's general theory of relativity and Lacan's theory of discourse. The dialogue with organization studies was made possible through the utilization of the communicative theory of organizations as theoretical background.

Findings

A number of insights were derived from the metaphor. First, organizations can distort their discursive surroundings up to the point of stopping any flux of independent discourse; second, the boundaries of organizations are to be understood as a gradient of discursive influence which fades away, often much beyond its legal limits; that also creates degrees of “stakeholding”, corresponding to different levels of influence and dependence on a specific organization by their stakeholders; third, the discursive fields of different organizations are often superposed, creating the phenomena of interference and superposition among organizational discursive fields; fourth, speciation among organizations is related to the kind of symbolic element attracted predominantly by their surrounding fields; and fifth, Lacanian theory suggests that no absolute and permanent discursive power is possible to persons or organizations, leaving room to the continuous production of new and potentially emancipating meaning, whose appearance, however, can be very difficult to predict due to its “discursive quantum nature”.

Practical implications

This metaphor can help researchers and managers to interpret the discursive phenomena involving organizations as a whole, as well as organizational relations with stakeholders.

Originality/value

By bringing together organization theory, Einstein's and Lacan's theories, this paper provides a new view on the relation between organizations, discourse and society.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 May 2012

Christine Cooper and Joanne Johnston

The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect upon the use of the term accountability in the twenty‐first century and its role in “remaking the world in favour of the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect upon the use of the term accountability in the twenty‐first century and its role in “remaking the world in favour of the most powerful” using the theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Lacan.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines the notion of accountability by analyzing a case study of the hostile takeover of Manchester United Football Club by the Glazer family. The field of football presents an interesting arena in which to study accountability because of its extremely interested and active fans who search for information on every aspect of their clubs. Lacanian theory is drawn upon to add to understanding of the psychopathology which the demands for accountability and transparency place on individuals. Bourdieu's work on illusio is drawn upon to understand the motivations of the field of football.

Findings

The paper finds that calls to “hold the most powerful to account” in practice lack political force. Thus the case study demonstrates the common (mis)recognition of the term of accountability. The ability to correct the abuses of the most powerful requires power.

Originality/value

The conflation of Bourdieu and Lacan adds to understanding of accountability as an empty cipher with performative power.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 May 2007

Gilles Arnaud and Stijn Vanheule

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to discuss the relevance of Lacanian psychoanalysis for thinking on organizational functioning and organizational change.

1956

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to discuss the relevance of Lacanian psychoanalysis for thinking on organizational functioning and organizational change.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the authors discuss basic Lacanian ideas with regard to the notion of the unconscious and its discursive status and with respect to the crucial difference between the ego and the subject. Subjectivity is linked to the notion of the lack. The authors then address implications of Lacanian theory for thinking about and intervening in organisations.

Findings

It is argued that the non‐satisfying nature of work needs to be recognised, that organizational intervention entails an intervention on discourse, and that subjectivity is an issue to be recognized in the context of organizational functioning.

Originality/value

In discussing the implications of this point of view, the authors address the possibility of a psychoanalytic ecology of human resources.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2009

Thibault de Swarte and Alain Amintas

The analysis of organizations has a debt vis-à-vis the sociologist Max Weber who built its theoretical foundations. The concept of limited rationality was later proposed…

Abstract

The analysis of organizations has a debt vis-à-vis the sociologist Max Weber who built its theoretical foundations. The concept of limited rationality was later proposed by Herbert Simon and then followed by sociologists of organizations. This paper tries to go beyond that approach. It uses a psychoanalytical perspective based on Jacques Lacan's work and on the case studies of two high-tech companies. We focus on signifiers and the role of the unconscious process inside organizations. We then propose an alternative model of interpretation of organizational dynamics different from the mainstream, which is dominated by the reference to instrumental rationality.

Details

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1093-4537

Book part
Publication date: 4 June 2019

Rosemary Overell

In this chapter, the author considers how Melbourne’s grindcore metal scene produces itself as coherent, authentic and masculine through the discursive positioning of…

Abstract

In this chapter, the author considers how Melbourne’s grindcore metal scene produces itself as coherent, authentic and masculine through the discursive positioning of Sydney’s scene as lacking, inauthentic and feminine and/or homosexual. The way Melbourne scene-members talk about Sydney in ethnographic interviews and online, indicates how Melbourne’s grindcore scene identity rests on a particular striving towards – and fantasy of – a bounded, comprehensible masculine identity anchored in Symbolic/linguistic signifiers of homophobia. Building on my previous research on Melbourne’s scene, the author utilises a Lacanian perspective to argue that the masculinist talk of Melbournians works as a response to the affective experience of enjoying grindcore music. Here, the author departs from my earlier work, where the author used Deleuzian/Massumian understandings of affect to suggest that affect works to construct community belonging in grindcore scenes (2014). Instead, the author uses Lacan’s approach to affect to suggest that Melbourne grindcore fans construct their identity via furiously producing a fantasy of Sydney fans as ‘Other’. They Symbolically construct Sydney as a ‘cultural wasteland’ populated by ‘poofter[s]’ (Melbourne Grind Syndicate, 2016) who are imagined, and positioned as, inauthentic due to their affective enthusiasm for grindcore. Here, affect works to exclude and Other grindcore fans rather than as a force for collectivity.

Details

Australian Metal Music: Identities, Scenes, and Cultures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-167-4

Keywords

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