Authenticity in Contemporary Organisations Workshop
16 May 2008
We are pleased to announce a workshop on Authenticity in Contemporary Organisations, to be held at the University Centre, Cambridge, on 16 May 2008. This event is part of the Discourse Theory and Organization Network and is being run in association with Cambridge Judge Business School's Organisational Behaviour teaching group.
Kets de Vries (2001) notes that organizations are becoming increasingly 'authentizotic', referring to a growing tendency for workplaces to encourage and celebrate expressions of diversity and difference. Organisations that are perceived to be authentic places might, for some, hold the promise of a more just and more rewarding work-life; perhaps reflecting what Charles Taylor (1989) calls 'an ethics of authenticity'.
There are, however, more sceptical views towards the rise of authentic workplaces. In the 'new spirit of capitalism' (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005) authenticity is seen to have emerged as a significant contested terrain in organisations. A reading of popular management literature, for example, might lead one to believe that workplaces demand more from employees than simply their labour; the emphasis is now upon a colonization of workers' heart, body and soul. The idea is straightforward: companies require 'authentic' employees in order to be successful. Only authentic employees can bring the productivity and creativity that organisations (and their brands) need in today's knowledge economy. Hence in so far as our world of consumption is inauthentic, critics argue that we now have authentic people creating an inauthentic world. Whilst the corporate world seeks to co-opt it, other authors locate authenticity in a radical act of redefinition and transformation (Zizek, 2006). Whichever perspective is adopted, it is clear that the above shifts imply significant changes in the politics of identity, self and work.
Central to many of these arguments is the notion of authenticity itself, and what we mean by it. Roots of contemporary use can be found in religion and in existentialist thinking (e.g. Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre). The notion itself goes back much further. In Aristotelian metaphysics authenticity simply meant essence. There was no moral claim associated with the notion of the authentic. Today, this has changed. In much of the self-improvement literature the authentic self is something like an inner self and life should be lived in accordance with this inner self. The search for authenticity becomes a matter of recovering, discovering or unmasking the true self which one has carried all along but which for one reason or another is hidden, suppressed, or dominated by an outside force.
About the Workshop
The purpose of the workshop is to debate the concept of authenticity in relation to contemporary management practices, the politics of work and critical organisation scholarship:
- Can authenticity have a progressive potential?
- Is it just a friendly way of presenting a moral design upon the soul of the employee?
- How should the notion of authenticity be defined within organisation studies?
- What shape can resistance take in 'authentizotic' organisations?
We hope to discuss these and other questions.
|10:30||Welcome and Introduction|
|11:00||Latte Capitalism and Late Capitalism: Reflections on Fantasy and Care as Part of the Service Triangle (pdf, 33KB)
Professor Yiannis Gabriel, School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London
|12:00||The Tyranny of Lifestyle: Authenticity, Individualism and Solidarity in the Workplace
Professor Peter Fleming, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London
|14:00||Authenticity Movements: The Case of Slow Food »
Associate Professor Andre Spicer, Warwick Business School
|15:00||Affect and the Language of Authenticity
Dr Arianna Bove, Queen Mary University of London
|16:30||Roundtable Discussion, led by Jana Costas and Sverre Spoelstra|
|17:30||Close, Drinks and Dinner|
Find out more
For information on the Discourse Theory and Organization Network, visit the webpage at CriticalManagement.org »
Boltanski, L. and Chiapello, E. (2005) The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso.
Kets de Vries, M. (2001) "Creating authentizotic organizations: well-functioning individuals in vibrant companies." Human Relations, 54(1): 101-111
Taylor, C. (1989) Sources of the self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zizek, S. (2006) The parallax view. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.