Remaking jobs and organisations : a Schatzkian practice perspective

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This thesis is an empirical study of aspects of the work of three Australian organisations in order to show how a Schatzkian view of ‘practice’ can illuminate conceptualisations of organisations, change, jobs, workers and knowing in ways that challenge prevailing managerialist theorisations of the same. In particular, this thesis draws on Schatzkian notions of practice and social site (Schatzki, 2002, 2005, 2006), where workers and organisations are positioned as interconnected in a mutually constitutive relationship through practices. By adopting an overarching ethnographic approach, using multiple case studies, narrative inspired semi-structured interviews, observations and document reviews, this thesis demonstrates empirically the mutually constitutive relationship among organisations and social site, as it emerges through the phenomenon of change. Through the interplay of practices in and beyond organisations, ongoing change and stability are explicated as co-occurring phenomena and as inherent features of organisations and social site. By drawing attention to the day-to-day activities of workers, this research demonstrates further the mutually constitutive relationship among workers and organisations. Through workers’ enactments of job and organisational practices in their day-to-day work, they are changing and remaking those practices, and at the same time, workers’ possibilities of such change and remaking are framed by already existing organisational practices. Finally, by considering how workers come to know what to do, this research demonstrates the ways in which workers, as they actively remake their jobs and organisational practices, are at the same time remaking their own and organisational knowing in practice. This research makes a number of contributions. It extends, in a small way, the organisational, management and practice literatures by bringing together, in a critical discussion, the multiple and diverse perspectives for understanding organisational phenomena. Second, the empirical application of Schatzkian theorisations of practice and social site demonstrates the robustness of these theorisations ─ how these theorisations hold up in practice. Finally, by bridging Schatzkian theorisations with the work of other practice theorists that focus on knowing in practice, this research extends Schatzki’s work by making explicit links between Schatzkian notions of practical intelligibility and organisational practice memory with theorisations of knowing in practice.
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