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Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life by Chris Mowles
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“As the idea of culture has migrated from anthropology to organizational theory, so it has become highly instrumentalized and reified. It is another example of the hubris of managerialism, which claims to be able to analyse, predict and control the intangible, and with the result that it can bring about the opposite of what it intends. In other words, with the intention of ensuring that employees are more committed to their work and are more productive, repeated culture change programmes can have the effect of inducing cynicism or resistance in staff (McKinlay and Taylor, 1996). With an insistence that staff align their values with those of the organization, what may result is gaming strategies on the part of staff to cover over what they really think and feel (Jackall, 2009).”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“the development of human physiology has enabled us to call out in ourselves, as we communicate with others with significant symbols, a similar reaction to the one we are calling out in others. Mind, or our conversation of gestures with ourselves, the internal conversation which is thinking, allows us to make continuous adjustments to problems which arise between us and our environment, and between different aspects of ourselves:”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“The talk about corporate culture tends to be optimistic, even messianic, about top managers molding cultures to suit their strategic ends.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“I find it disquieting to see the term paradox entering management literature in a way that indicates that it can be ‘managed’. I suppose I should expect this because of the sense of omnipotence that plagues American management, the belief that no event or situation is too complex or too unpredictable to be brought under management control. (Farson, 1997: 15)”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“The idea that organizations should develop a ‘strong’ culture has become very pervasive. In his most recent book Dennis Tourish (2013) explores at length the disasters which can arise from developing cult-like cultures in organizations, where dissent is eliminated and culture is ‘totalised’.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“one might make the case that managers have been coopted into the project of globalization and radical competition, which is supposedly brought about through constant change and innovation, as well as tighter and tighter scrutiny of the performance of staff measured against highly reductive metrics. This has affected both how managers are educated to do their jobs, their sense of professionalism and identity and what they find themselves involved in doing as managers. One of their principle roles is thought to be to champion innovation, by designing, implementing and supervising the necessary transformational changes that will guarantee competitive advantage.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“Of course, as experience shows, managers are in charge but not necessarily in control. They will inevitably be called upon to make changes in organizations since, as MacIntyre observes, longer-term shared projects to make the future less unpredictable are an inevitable part of being human. However, as he advises us, because of fate and contingency, because of the interweaving of intentions as we try to discover things about others that we strive equally hard to conceal from them as we try to anticipate the anticipations of others, because generalization takes a different form in the social sciences than in the natural sciences, we may only succeed ‘characteristically, and for the most part’. The claim to be able to guarantee positive change for the good of the firm is either, according to MacIntyre, good acting, or the road to tyranny where we impose our conceptions of the good, irrespective of the resistance we are likely to meet.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“In all domains of life we struggle with the stable instability of the living world. The manager’s task is to make the best sense possible of the complex responsive processes of relating, making the full use of the resources available to him or her. These include the mess, the ambiguity, contradictions and paradoxes which arise from trying to get things done with other people.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“I have come round to the opposite point of view than that recommended by what we might term the dominant discourse on managing conflict. Instead of assuming managers can adopt an objective position, deciding what type of conflict they have on their hands and so which tool or technique they might choose to resolve it for the optimum working of the organization, I am assuming that there is no objective position to be found. Rather, what managers might do instead is to immerse themselves as fully as possible in the complex responsive processes of relating which take place in all social life, noticing their own reactions to and perspectives on the situation as important data in deciding what to do about it. They are caught up in complex social relationships which are forming them, and which they are forming, and these contribute to the regular irregularity of organizational life. Managers would be naïve to anticipate that emotions are absent from everyday organizational life; indeed, it is most likely to provoke strong emotions as people endure the flux and change in the emerging balance of forces.”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life
“The opposite of a true statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth. Attributed to Nils Bohr”
Chris Mowles, Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life