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Querying the 'new capitalist' agenda : a critical (re)contextualisation of '360 degree feedback' and the production of the empowered, self-governing, organizational subject

The present thesis comprises a three part qualitative project that queries a specific facet of popular management rhetoric: namely, that the contemporary economic agent operates as an empowered self-governing agent. It critically engages with the much debated demise of ‘old capitalism’ and ‘new capitalism’s’ claims of workplace democratisation. The thesis begins with a critical (re)contextualisation of what had become colloquially know as ‘360 degree feedback’. An in-depth genealogical analysis is presented that traces the genesis of three prominent multi-rater/source feedback mechanisms between 1940 and 2011: the T-Group, the therapeutic community and contemporary 360 degree feedback. It is argued that each of these has emerged out of historical attempts to combine disciplinary technologies/techniques with psychological knowledge(s) and expertise in a bid to empower individuals to modify their own behaviour in line with a moral and ethical code of ‘self’ development and ‘self’ mastery. The thesis then examines ‘how’ the contemporary multi-rater/source feedback mechanism of 360 degree feedback is constructed in and through expert discourse(s), and considers to what extent these constructions might represent it as heterotopic. Twelve key informant interviews are subjected to discourse analysis. It is argued that those human technologies/techniques in which individuals are enfolded, objectified, rationalised and normalised are themselves heterotopic and, as such, constitute alternative spatial locations in which individuals are subjected to the effects of power and knowledge. The final study provides a contextualising step inside 360 feedback practices and processes and considers how individuals inhabit and make sense of the alternative space it provides. A form of discourse analysis that synthesises macro and micro discursive approaches is applied. This particular section explores how discursive agents actively negotiate this enacted space and formulate a sense of self within it. In keeping with the critical nature of the thesis, emergent discourses and interpretative repertoires are discussed in terms of the possible ideological functions they perform. When considered in this way, it is concluded that individuals are not being less controlled due to the enlightened nature of workplace democracy. Rather they are merely being controlled differently insofar as it is they and they alone that take up the goal of self- development and, as such, bring their own goals, their own aspirations and their own behaviour in line with a moral and ethical code of ‘self’ development and ‘self’ mastery.
CreatorsSlater, Rory F.
ContributorsCoyle, A.
PublisherUniversity of Surrey
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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