Resisters at work: Generating productive resistance in the workplace

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Journal Article
Organization Science, 2012, 23 (3), pp. 801 - 819
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Research has recognized the transformative dimension of resistance in the workplace. Yet resistance is still seen as an adversarial and antagonistic process that management can accept or reject; thus, understanding how resistance can actually influence workplace change remains a challenge for research. In this paper, we offer an analysis of two situations of resistance wherein resisters, organized in temporary enclaves, are able to influence top management's decisions and produce eventual change. Whether or not resistance becomes productive depends on the skillful work of resisters and the creation of powerful "objects of resistance" that enable resisters to modify temporarily the power configuration of a situation and oblige top management to listen to their claims and accommodate to the new configuration. This paper shows that resistance can be better explained by what resisters do to achieve their ends rather than by seeing resistance as a fixed opposition between irreconcilable adversaries. © 2012 INFORMS.
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