Theme – 2 Blended Learning Activities
The blended activities associated with Theme 2 are aimed at getting you to think further around different views of work. Reading the associated chapters will provide you with some insight into the critical approach to OB. However, also consider your own views of work, how these have been shaped, and how they might influence the way that you manage others.
Your view of work: Visual images exercise:
Visual images such as photographs, drawings or cartoons can provide powerful ways to express our views towards work and related issues such as work-life balance. Your task this week is to find three images that sum up your experiences of work. The images can be of anything of relevance to you but they have to ‘say’ something about your current/previous experiences at work, or what work means to you. You are welcome to take photos of your workplace, but please ask the permission of others if you want to take photos of people you work with. Jot down some notes and bring these along for some discussion in class.
Managerial views of work:
After reading through the relevant material, make some dot points about the following question. Be ready to have a discussion about this in the next class:
‘Representing management as a predominantly technical activity creates an illusion’ (Alvesson & Willmott, 1996: 12) that managing is a neutral activity devoid of needing to consider people. Jot down some points as to whether to whether you agree with this statement or not. As part of your response, highlight why you agree or disagree and what type of activity you believe managing to be.
Stigma and dirty work:
Many individuals are employed in work and occupations that different societies frown upon on the basis that such work is deemed to violate social norms. Such occupations include different types of work ranging from low-skilled precarious contract-based work, through to occupations deemed to be socially taboo or dirty, such as exotic dancing, sex-work, being a tattoo artist or even working as a mortician. You may not be engaged in organisations that manage such work, but managing the stigma associated with different types of work has resonance for work of all varieties. This week your task is to read the following paper: Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., Clark, M. A., & Fugate, M. (2007). Normalizing dirty work: Managerial tactics for countering occupational taint. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 149-174.
As you read through, make some notes about how the discussed managerial tactics may have resonance for everyday life in your organisation.
Note I have uploaded the pdf (Normalizing dirty work ) file for this question
Would you work in a sweatshop?
Our values and backgrounds influence the way we approach work and even our attitudes towards different organisations. For example, values play a strong role in determining where we work, what type of work we are prepared to do, and also the type of work we are not prepared to do. However, not all of us have the luxury of making such decisions. If you think back to motivation theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, many of us are trying to achieve higher level needs through work, while others are struggling to achieve lower-order needs such as survival.
Your activity this week is to watch the clip Nike Sweatshops: Behind the Swoosh. After watching the video, address the following questions:
1. How does this video affect your thoughts about managerial approaches to work and the role of organisations in society?
2. What role do you believe values, class and orientation to work play in employees’ willingness to engage in such work? Consider this from the angles of the narrators/presenters and also from the factory workers.
Theme – 3 Blended Activities
The activities and discussions that form Theme 3 are aimed at encouraging you to think about power in organisations from different perspectives. As managers, we hold position power, which gives us the legitimacy to make decisions based on the control of resources (human and otherwise), and based on organisational goals to increase efficiency and effectiveness. We might not often stop and think about the broader implications that our use of power can have for employees. Functionalist approaches to management assume that managers are powerholders and employees exercise power through activities such as resistance. However, other views demonstrate that power can be exercised more subtly and even unconsciously. Furthermore, we are shaped by powerful societal discourses that influence the way we behave, often without our awareness. As managers we also encourage staff to internalise disciplinary power, while internalising this ourselves.
Power and control: Visual images exercise:
This exercise is similar to what we did in Theme 2 with visual images to express our view of work. However, your task this week is to find two images: The first of these should express something about how you feel (or have felt) as an employee under the power and control of the manager or organisation you work/worked for. The second image should reflect how you think you will use power and control (or do use it if you are currently managing others) over others when managing them to achieve their goals. If you find that you need more than one image to express your views, feel free to collect more. Jot down some notes about why these images are of particular relevance to you. Bring these along to class to generate discussion.
Is misbehaviour ever appropriate in the workplace?
Human relations approaches to conflict suggest that it is a normal and even at times appropriate outcome of humans working together. The readings this week outline examples of misbehaviour and problems that it it can create; but are there ever any occasions when misbehaviour is appropriate or productive? Your task this week is to research the concept of misbehaviour beyond the text book (use the examples as a guide), to find examples of when it can be useful for organisations. In your examples, take some notes about the obvious and subtle outcomes that such behaviours can have for the workplace. Your research can come from library or online resources.
How is the panopticon evident in modern-day organisations?
Jeremy Bentham’s notion of the panopticon was utilised by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his theorising of disciplinary power. Although the panopticon was originally based on the design of prisons, Foucault discussed its relevance (both in a physical and metaphorical sense) to other social settings, such as hospitals and schools. Your task this week is to research the panopticon (using either online or library sources) and address the following questions:
1. Using relevant examples how is the panopticon evident in modern-day organisations?
2. As a manager, what practices might you use in the organisation to reinforce the internalisation of disciplinary power amongst your staff? If you are not currently a manager, consider the ways in which a current or previous manager has reinforced the internalisation of disciplinary power within you.
Can managers construct resistance?
Traditional functionalist approaches to management often view employees as being the sources of resistance in organisations, particularly when change is implemented. The activity this week is to read the following article: Ford, J. D., Ford, L. W., & D’Amelio, A. (2008). Resistance to change: The rest of the story. Academy of management Review, 33(2), 362-377. Jeff Ford and colleagues provides an alternative view of resistance to change suggesting that resistance can lie in the change agent or the manager. As you read through the article think about your own experiences of change – you may have managed change or experienced it as an employee – and think about examples you may have seen in the workplace that resonate with Ford et al’s article.
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