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Dangers of "Good Life" interpretations onto stories of new organizational forms

posted Feb 18, 2015, 12:33 PM by John Oliver   [ updated Sep 14, 2015, 2:07 AM ]

As an open question, that I ask myself and I wish to ask of others in this space, is what are the risks that we are simply projecting our hopes and wishes for harmonious visions of liberated organizational life, and the self-actualized individual and collective, onto the case study examples of wonderful cooperatively owned / adhocracy / holocracy / sociocracy based companies? 

My note of caution is where I suggest it is really important for us not just to take the picture painted by journalists or evangelical CEOs. I do believe that the anthropologists have a role to play in checking what are the realities inside such organisations from the inside-out. Specific references are Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation (Gideon Kunda) about HP's organizational vision and Flexible Firm: The Design of Culture at Bang & Olufsen (Jakob Krause-Jensen). 

The observations of these anthropologists show that autonomy and freedom are double-edge swords of ambiguity and uncertainty.


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