Disturbing ethics : politics, resistance and contestation in organizational life

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2017
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This thesis brings together a body of work that examines ethics as it relates to collective organizational action, working in organizations, managing organizations, and studying organizations. The papers that comprise the thesis were all written in the heyday 21st century Western neoliberalism. This was a time where the transformation of self-interest from an economic imperative to a centrally constitutive part of dominant modes of subjective existence had reached its apparent apogee. As well as performing a critique of the ethos of self-interest and rivalry that characterise this time, the papers in the thesis explore how ethics manifests organizationally through modes of political action, contestation and resistance. What I write about is no false road map to righteousness that might wish to appease the anxiety of a managerial class, but rather an exploration of what ethics can mean in organizational contexts and how that meaning might be imperfectly translated into a demand for justice and an exercise of power. Such an ethics invokes a disturbance of organizational order, including an order that might itself be labelled 'ethical'. Central to this disturbance is the contestation of how organizations appropriate ethics for the purpose of enhancing their own self-interest, as well as considering how ethics might directly inform a politics of resistance in and of organizations. This approach to ethics is explored in relation to five main domains of practice: (1) how organizational action is resisted in the name of ethics, (2) how ethics relates to the management and leadership of organizations, (3) what it means to conceive of organizations themselves as being 'ethical, (4) how ethics in organizations defies self-righteousness and relies, in practice, on doubt, uncertainty and undecidability, and (5) the reflexive consideration of how the ethics that is evinced can come to bear on the practice of writing about organizations. The contribution that this collectively offers is the explication of an ethics for organizations which disturbs the selfishness of neoliberal morality, and can inform a democratic politics rested on a genuine concern for the other and for justice.
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