The Monstrous Organization

The Monstrous Organization

Torkild Thanem

Drawing on contemporary debates in organization theory, this book explores the monsters that populate organizations, what organizations do to these monsters, and how this challenges us to re-construct organization theory.

Preface

Torkild Thanem

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies

Extract

‘Monster’ and ‘monstrous’ have traditionally been used as pejorative terms, creating much pain and suffering for the people who have been labelled with them. At the same time, these terms have been cast opposite terms such as organization and organizing. Struggling to break free from these connotations without ending up in a moral relativism that would ignore the violence they exercise on humans and non-humans, this book has emerged out of my own struggle with becoming monstrous – others sometimes view me as monstrous, and I sometimes view myself as monstrous. Through this book I have therefore attempted to think the monstrous struggles that I and others are involved in beyond dominant norms of good and evil. Part of this struggle involves challenging the established opposition between monsters and organizations, and claiming the monstrous as a powerful term that can be used to pursue radically different ways of living, thinking, working and organizing. And part of it involves claiming the monstrous as a concept that is more telling of who we are. In other words, this book attempts to exercise ethics and politics beyond the rights and self-interests of individuals and unified identity groups, and exercise an ontology of organizational life beyond the stability of homogeneous essences. While I may view myself as monstrous, I was first encouraged to explore the monstrous in relation to organizations and organization theory by Gibson Burrell, who was then my supervisor at the University of Warwick. At the time I wouldn’t have thought we talked...