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Corporate Strategy, Organizations, And Subjectivity: A Critique

D. Knights, Glenn V. Morgan
Published 1991 · Sociology

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This paper attempts to develop a new approach to the study of corporate strategy. It draws on the methodology of Michel Foucault to suggest that corporate strategy can be seen as a discourse which has its own specific conditions of possibility. These are traced historically to various exercises of power within the conduct of war and the development of business organizations. Strategy is located as an emergent set of practices which has distinctive power effects on organizations and subjectivity. Analyses of strategy cannot be reduced either to rationalist accounts of markets and environments nor interpretive understandings of actors' frames of reference. The emergence and reproduction of 'strategy' as an essential element in managerial discourse needs to be located in specific changes in organizations and managerial subjectivity, because it is a mechanism of power that transforms individuals into particular kinds of subjects who secure a sense of well-being through participation in strategic practices. Conflict over 'strategy' is therefore more than just a question of career politics and market competition. It touches on the very sense of what it is to be human as well as having effects that readily legitimize prevailing relations of inequality and privilege in contemporary organizations and institutions.
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