Managing Intensity and Play at Work
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Managing Intensity and Play at Work

Transient Relationships

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen

In this thought-provoking book Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen uses a unique combination of deconstruction, systems theory and discourse theory to critically discuss topics such as the management of feelings, partnerships as second order promises, and work–life balance as an immune defense against over-socialized employees. He assesses the parallels between layoffs in intimate organizations and modern professional divorce discourses, and explores the dichotomy of double-bounded management commanding both ‘do as I say’ and ‘be autonomous’. In so doing, Professor Andersen encourages the reader to look at relationships in the workplace in new ways.
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Chapter 7: Unbound binding: from employee contracts to partnerships

Transient Relationships

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen


As we have said, organizations today exist within a regime of transience. Everything changes – or is imagined to be changing. The present moment is at all times the essential moment. And yet nothing can be decided since one needs to maintain the ability in the next similarly essential moment to make a different decision, to change direction and throw oneself at other possibilities. This creates a particular challenge for the organization on the membership dimension about how to take responsibility for ensuring that the individual takes responsibility for her own inclusion into the organization, which is continually in the process of becoming something else. So far I have discussed the ways in which organizations seek to manage this challenge through the form of self-enrollment and its codification in pedagogy, love and play. Moreover, I have shown how organizations develop semantics for their reliance on the emotions of individuals, including the way that the attribution of emotions in organizations to individuals depends on the systemic perspective. Finally, I have addressed certain aspects of the question of the termination of membership within the membership form of self-enrollment.

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