The fantasy of the organizational One: Postdemocracy, organizational transformation and the (im)possibility of politics

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the politics of and in organizational transformations in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall and Germany's reunification. Design/methodology/approach: The paper juxtaposes a political-philosophical perspective informed by Rancière - what we call a dramaturgy of politics - with the findings of an ethnographic study conducted in the Berlin State Library in 2002/2003. Findings: The paper outlines a reading of the event of November 9, 1989 and its aftermath as a dissensual event of politics proper, i.e. the emergence of a new political subjectivity, followed by a consensual process of social organization. In the state library, both the consensual "fantasy of the organizational One" as well its disruption are causing struggles over what is visible and sayable. A dramaturgy of politics thus encourages us to add our voices to the specific time-spaces in which an excess of words, signs and forms alters the configuration of what is visible and expressible. Research limitations/implications: The usual disclaimers about the limits of ethnographic research apply. The paper calls for further inquiries into the dramaturgy of organizational politics. It also reflects upon the "Western gaze" and the problematic of "speaking for" the presumably dominated. Originality/value: It is hoped that the paper contributes to the understanding of the politics of organization (theory) by outlining an alternative conceptual approach and confronting it with ethnographic findings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)651-668
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 10.2010
Externally publishedYes