The Politics of Working Life

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Oxford University Press, Sep 8, 2005 - Business & Economics - 336 pages
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How does the politics of working life shape modern organizations? Is our desire for meaningful, secure work increasingly at odds with corporate behaviour in a globalized economy? Does the rise of performance management culture represent an intensification of work, or create opportunities for the freewheeling individual career? This timely and engaging book, by leading authorities in the field, adopts the standpoint of the 'questioning observer'. It is for those who need an informed account of work that is accessible without being superficial. The book is unique in its multi-dimensional approach, weaving together analysis of individual work experience, political processes in organizations, and the wider context of the social structuring of markets. The book identifies central questions about working experience and answers them in a direct and lively manner. It has a strong analytical foundation based on a political economy framework, giving particular weight to the contradictory character of organizations. These contradictions turn on the competing demands placed on organizations and the different political projects of groups within them. This perspective integrates the chapters, and permits numerous scholarly debates to be addressed - including those on identity projects, gender and work, power and participation, escalation in decision-making, and the meaning of corporate social responsibility. This book is suitable for undergraduate and graduate classes in Organizational Behaviour, Business Strategy and the Sociology of Work and Employment. It will also appeal to the general reader interested in grappling with the complexity of the changing environment of work.
  

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Contents

Introduction Why and How Should We Think about Work?
1
Making the Links
5
The Questioning Observer
7
Connections and Contradictions
8
Structures and Choices
13
Economic Political and Ideological Processes
15
Structure of the Book
17
What Is Happening to Jobs?
19
Conclusions
141
Why Do Disasters Happen?
145
Administrative Evil?
147
Cultures of Fear
150
Reliable Systems
152
Understanding Technology
154
Manmade Disasters
157
Normal Accidents
158

Market Individualism
20
Alienation and the Division of Labour
22
A New Workplace and a New Worker?
27
The Changing Character of Labour
31
Subjectivity Status and Satisfaction
37
Conclusions
41
Has it Become Harder to Balance Work and Family Life?
44
Modern Marriage and the Consequences of Work
48
Doing Time at Home
52
Is Technology the Solution?
54
Is Outsourcing the Solution?
58
FamilyFriendly Workplaces and the Future of Work
60
Conclusions
63
Is the Organizational Career an Outdated Concept?
64
Career as a Project of the Self
71
Gendered Career Paths
75
The Gendered Culture of Organizations
79
Changing Modes of Management?
82
Conclusions
84
How Is Performance Defined Measured and Rewarded?
87
Rise and Operation of PMS
90
Appraisal as Discipline
94
Performance Management Ritual and Symbol
96
Understanding Workplace Rules
101
Negotiating Budgets and Rules
104
Conclusions
112
Why Is Empowerment Hard to Achieve?
114
How Does Power Work in Organizations?
116
Mapping Participation
123
Why Participation Matters
130
Extent of Empowerment and Participation
131
Conditions for Participation to Work
139
The Politics and Economics of Safety and Risk Assessments
164
Conclusions
170
Is Decisionmaking a Rational Process?
173
Groupthink
175
Escalation as Group Psychology
178
Escalation as a Failure of Rationality
181
Persistence Failure and Rationality
188
Learning
191
Conclusions
195
How Are Markets Constructed?
197
How Do Markets Work?
198
From Managerial Capitalism to Shareholder Value
202
Option Pricing Financial Instruments and Corporate Scandals
209
Effects of Market Restructuring in the USA
215
Alternative Models of Capitalism
218
Varieties of Capitalism
220
Competing Logics Not Competing Models
226
How Is Globalization Affecting Work?
229
Myth and Reality
230
Contests over Effects of Globalization
235
The Global Economy and the IMF
237
The Regulation of Global Trade
240
Globalization and Work in Organizations
245
Conclusions
253
What Are the Opportunities and Responsibilities of Organizational Life?
255
Business Issues
257
Beyond the Stakeholder View
259
Business Ethics
265
References
271
Index
295
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About the author (2005)

Paul Edwards has coauthored eight books with his wife, including the bestselling Working From Home. He also write a syndicated newspaper column, "Your Home Office," and host a popular cable TV show, "Working From Home with Paul and Sarah Edwards".

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