Managerialist is defined as looking at organizational behavior and theory
from exclusive point of view of managers, the functional agents of an administered
society. The function of managers as agents and functionalists is "to
insure the survival growth/profitability of the organization" and to
"satisfy the immediate demands of shareholders/customers/(and to some
extent) workers" (Alvesson & Willmott, 1996: 161). TQM, reengineering,
empowerment, and transformational leadership are examples of so-called
"enlightened" managerialist ideology. Managerialist ideology
became popular at the turn of this century, when family capitalism
(owner-entrepreneurs) gave way to corporate capitalism. The owners gave control
of the firm to their managerial lieutenants. Managerialism "gave
ideological coherence to the control of a relatively small and exclusive group
of men over a large group of workers. This also differentiated the viewpoint of
managers from that of owner-entrepreneurs." According to Martin and Knopoff
(1995), from the start Max Weber (1947) infused managerialism with a masculine
and paternalistic ethic. It is this ethic that organizational behavior has begun
to challenge in the last two decades. Stories can be told as to why and how
certain managers are disciplined (Gephart, 1991) and yet the process of
constructing deviance is instituted and accomplished through stories embedded in
broader scenes of discourse (Gephart, 1978).
Managerialist storytelling research is decidedly functionalist. The
organizational culture studies of the early and mid-1980s, celebrated the
functions of storytelling. Gurus like Peters and Waterman, picked up on Alan
Wilkins’ dissertation to argue that founding and vision stories are functional
to strong-culture organizations, which were thought to outperform weak-culture
organizations. A slew of interview studies began to collect interviewee stories
which were said to have something to do with control (Wilkins, 1983) or change
(Feldman, 1990). There were very few actual field studies of storytelling as a
feature of managerial practice. My early ethnographic field work (Boje, 1991) is
being functionalist because it looks at how storytelling as a meaning-making and
sense-making process is accomplished in managerial practices such as
terse-telling and glossing to effect leadership and reorganization. This was the
beginning of the Storytelling Organization theory, in which stories are the life
blood of organizing and managing.
Beyond Managerialist Storytelling – My more recent work (e.g., Boje,
1995) develops a non-managerialist and non-functionalist approach to
storytelling organizations. This is done in what I call a “critical
postmodern” approach to the Storytelling Organization.
Postmodern combines Critical Theory focus on power in storytelling (e.g.,
Mumby, 1987) with Postmodern Theory (e.g. Best & Kellner, 1993, 1997, 2001).
Deconstruction (e.g., Martin, 1990), feminist critique (e.g., Calas &
Smircich, 1991) and intertextuality
(e.g. O’Connor, 2002) focuses upon power, including the pluralism of story
plots (polyphony), the multiple ways of interpreting stories (polysemous), and
the dialectic interplay between marginalized or silent stories and the dominant
more hegemonic stories and storylines of a particular organization and its
executive cadre. This post-managerialist ideology is about collective
self-determination, rather than top-down, managerialist theories of agency via
it command-and-control or so-called empowerment. Critical postmodern approaches
to storytelling allows for a dialectic relationship between managerialist
narrative and critical narrative.
In sum, the two streams (functionalist/managerialist and critical postmodern) approach the study of storytelling quite differently. Managerialists focus on how stories can be used to do mundane things like transfer knowledge, communicate vision, build strong cultures, accomplish entrepreneurship, leadership, and change, etc. These are all good things, but as Herbert Marcuse (1969) argues, it is a One Dimensional view of organizations and in my terms, Storytelling Organizations. The Critical Postmodern approach looks at power and knowledge relations constituted by a plurality of storytellers, some more powerful than others. Further, there are intertextual, contested emplotments, multi-causality, and microstoria relations to be explored that the Functionalist/Managerialist approach cannot address.
Managerialist Stories are almost unrecognizable in the U.S.
Most U.S. scholars and managers do not understand the term
“managerialist.” Critical work
on managerialist discourse comes mostly from Australia and the U.K. and reveals,
the International community is well along in its understanding of the
functionalist mindset. There are critiques and counter-arguments in several of
the managerialist debates. There is much concern about the colonization of
managerialist ideology from the factory floor to the teaching professions and
public administration, in general.
While it is clear that there is no generally agreed and precise definition of
the term 'managerialism', a useful (if a little cryptic) version is provided by
Pollitt, who sees it as "a set of beliefs or practices, at the core of
which burns the seldom-tested assumption that better management will prove an
effective solvent for a wide range of economic and social ills" http://www.solent.ac.uk/sbs/iconoclastic/Davies/davies.html
In short, CT goes beyond the status quo, managerialist outlook that people
and nature are there to serve the efficiency and effectiveness needs of
These management-dominated companies are sometimes called
"managerialist" companies, and they have evolved a philosophy of
"managerialism" (Enteman 1993). According to this view, the corporate
managers are endowed with a "social responsibility" to balance and
promote the interests of all the stakeholders which include the shareholders,
employees, creditors, suppliers, customers, local residents, and government.
However, by being "responsible" to everyone, the managers are in fact
accountable to hardly anyone but themselves (as one can judge by considering the
levels of executive compensation in the large American companies in comparison
with the Japanese firms). http://www.geocities.com/WallStreet/Floor/3935/j-firm.html
We must therefore seek a framework which focuses upon the worker rather than
the work place. One such framework is Bravermans' deskilling thesis (1976:100)
which illustrates that the history of capitalism is marked by the progressive
degradation of work arising from the managerial expropriation of control from
workers through the deepening division of mental and manual labour. This
division is achieved by scientific management techniques which seek to
sub-divide work into core tasks and results in the replacement of workers by
machine process. Braverman illustrates that the outcome is always a detailed
division of labour which results in the degradation or deskilling of work from a
high to low level of generic skill and from a higher to a lower rate of pay.
Whilst Braverman was writing about the eclipse of industrial craftwork, Burawoy
(1996:299) argues that his thesis could equally be applied to the intellectual
craftwork of the professions. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/staff/lawdw/cyberlaw/dsw/articles/cyart2.htm
Wood argues that accounts of service sector work tend to focus on the high
skills end of the market, and so fail to understand the extent of managerial
control and the relative poverty endured by many of those who work in
In managerialist writing, the new career model and the culture of excellence
or enterprise are presented as mutually implicated. Firstly, the new career
model is seen as the inevitable outcome of the restructuring and delayering
associated with flexibl e organisations and excellence (e.g. Herriot, 1992;
Kanter, 1989) http://www.agsm.ucla.edu/research/conferences/scos/papers/
More targeting to those at risk of social exclusion makes a purely
managerialist approach much more problematic. http://www.derby.ac.uk/cegs/agw.html
The methodology of quality is an industrial ideology and a tool in the
managerialist camp. It appeals to managers who are under pressure to look more
and more like industry. It is also a technique of control and for managers
struggling with rapid chang e and the pressures of competition it exercises a
siren-song appeal. http://www.ncver.edu.au/atr/quality.htm
In essence, ‘Serving the Country Better' could be viewed as introducing
managerialist thought in Irish public administration, albeit in an incremental
fashion. Predominant to this change was the proposed establishment of Executive
Offices where departm ents have a sufficiently large volume of purely executive
work, Ministers will be enabled by legislation to transfer such work to separate
office – to be known as Executive Offices. http://www.indiana.edu/~csrc/millar4.html
"Performance assessment" contains items concerned with what have
been called "managerialist" approaches to improving university
teaching (Harvey, 1994), including performance-related pay, student ratings used
for personnel purposes, and denial of incre mental progression (Defining item:
"Conducting compulsory student ratings of individual teaching performance,
linking the results to promotion and/or extra financial rewards"). http://services.canberra.edu.au/caut/commproject/rrgt/Chapter5.html
These reforms (and related ones like the Financial Management Initiative in
Britain) were a long overdue reform of a massively inefficient system. They were
managerialist, characterised by the slogan 'let the manager manage', a move
towards single line budgets, and a welcome emphasis on outcomes rather than
However, within the flurry of managerial change in Australian government, new
public sector management practices are emerging which are consistent with the
model, but they have been obscured. The reason is that the debate has focused on
an "ideal type" of managerialism which is only partly representative
of the managerial changes in practice. This archetype will be called
Managerialism (with a capitalised initial). The literature of the debate shows
its key features: corporate planning; grouping of act ivities by outputs or
outcomes; a divisionalised organisation structure; coordination by performance
monitoring; generalist managers; and results-oriented remuneration (Weller &
Lewis 1989; Davis 1992; Codd 1991; Hughes 1992, p.293). http://www.utas.edu.au/docs/humsoc/cpmp/Alford.html
Most work has been done in the business sector by Stacey [4,7,8] in
challenging the orthodoxy of strategic management and using Chaos Theory to
illustrate how we need to achieve successful companies by using instability to
innovate. In education there i s no equivalent to Stacey, but there is a growing
disquiet about managerialism in a range of areas from critiques of site-based
management  to issues about the quality of teaching and learning . This
is nowhere better illustrated than in concerns being raised about the Ofsted
inspection process in the UK, where Russell has argued that the inspection
framework is a systems approach which "is not only conceptually opposed to
randomness and maverick creativity. If applied really well it leaves no room for
the serendipity that may inspire excellence"[17, p. 311]. http://www.mcb.co.uk/services/articles/documents/jea/gunter.htm
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