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Unformatted text preview: _ _______ 1 Deconstruction analysis D econstruction is antenarrative in action. Every story excludes. Every story
legitimates a centred point of view, a worldview, or a n i deology among
alternatives. N o s tory is ideologically neutral; story floats i n t he chaotic
s oup o f bits a nd pieces of story fragments. Story is never alone; i t lives
a nd b reathes its m eaning i n a w eb of o ther stories. A nd, e very story since
i t is e mbedded i n c hanging m eaning contexts of multiple stories a nd col
lective story making, 'self-deconstructs' w ith e ach telling. Deconstruction
is b oth p henomenon a nd analysis. I t i s p henomenon b ecause ' story
d econstruction' is all the constructing a nd r econstructing processes h ap
pening all a round us. I t is analysis, as I h ave c ome to r ead it. I will s peak
of t wo levels: the level of action a nd t he analytic level.
I will follow Derrida i n a sserting t hat t he stories are self-deconstructing
o n t heir own. But I diller because I d o p osit several analytical steps. These
are steps I will describe as 'story deconstruction' analysis. O f course, m y
d econstruction is already unravelling a nd c an b e d econstructed, h aving
t he traces of its o wn self-deconstruction. H ere I w ill briefly define decon
struction, specify several analytic steps a nd d evelop examples.
What is deconstruction? Deconstructionists point o ut the instability, complex movements, processes
of change, a nd the p lay of differences a nd h eterogeneity that make stability,
unity, structure, function a nd coherence one-sided readings. Structure, form
a nd coherence are stability metaphors readers impose u pon n arrative to
render them as object-like. Deconstructionists argue that each reading is a n
active disturbance a nd a metaphor-projection b y a r eader that constructs the
narrative-object. We d o n ot n eed to deconstruct m anagement a nd organi
zation stories since, however authoritatively they are told a nd h owever
logically they are narrated, they are already deconstructing a nd reconstruc
ting w ithout the help of a n analyst. Indeed, just o ur r eading a nd retelling of
a m anagement s tory i s a deconstructive action.
There are excellent s tudies a nd r eviews of the relation of deconstruction
to critical t heory a nd p ostmodern o rganization s tudies. F or e xample,
critical theorists s uch as A lvesson a nd W illmott (1996) s eek t o m arry
d econstruction to the critical theory revival of Marxist critiques of ideology. Without searches for id 1
deconstruction became jus:
c onservative, a nd like the -~
project. Alvesson a nd DeetL ~:
a t critical theory a nd pO~::!'.
t ogether t han a part. See K ik' a nd S imon's classic text Or·> o f a n e xecutive's narrati\'e ::-.=. Should we define decol1sfntci> I
'Deconstruction,' a rgues! r' :.
' can b e u sed as a n u mbrell :
t ant c hanges in narratology -- ..
d epart from the very scientin.:: : -
structuralist critiques impact: -'
ject is to merge structuralist a - - :- ~
coins the term 'socio-narratD~
Stories are n ot ideology-ne'; -:
t hat s tress realism, verifiabih.~· ,
cal values i ntrude u pon n an- •. ~
in the Wall Street Journal are .ti::
i ng of leaders, nations a nd i ll
w orld w ide w eb, however, t} e
tell other stories. Since dec
tracks b ehind a s tatus quo <: r-:- ~ Definitions of d econstru:' :-'
Martin. She defines d econs'L
as an analytic strategy that e:'::'
can be interpreted. Deconstrn-
in a way that is particularly sers
of disempowered, marginaliz
For me, deconstmction is a - _
m ethod w ith s teps a nd p roc
trary to the s pirit o f D errid ::
i nvolve w ays o f reading tha:
that p osit a uthoritative centres .
is b ased o n the idea of a cente. -
Point, a n h nmovable MO\'er d.", : : - •
ally capitalized, a nd guaran~ .~
tion is i n order. I f w e j ust rer: - -_
centre, w e h ave fallen into l ::
one centre w ith another, b u ' 0:0..
of change a nd d isintegratio
centre, e ven o ne w ith a gr
of control. DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 19 W ithout searches for ideolog)'i critical theorists w ere c oncerned that
deconstruction became j ust a nother f ormalism, anti-historical, politically
conservative, a nd like the o ther n arratologies, lacking a social c hange
project. Alvesson a nd Deetz (1996) called for o rganization s tudies to look
at critical t heory a nd p ostmodern t heory as complementary, stronger
together t han a part. See Kilduff's (1993) deconstruction analysis of March
a nd S imon's classic text Organizations a nd M artin's (1990) deconstruction
of a n e xecutive's narrative of a m anager's pregnancy. Should we define deconstruction? ' Deconstruction,' argues M ark C urrie i n his book o n Posfrnodern Narrative, ' can be u sed a s a n u mbrella t erm u nder w hich m any o f t he m ost i mpor tant c hanges i n n arratology c an b e d escribed, especially those w hich d epart f rom the v ery scientific analysis b y w hich i t o perated before post structuralist critiques impacted o n l iterary s tudies' (1998: 3). C urrie's p ro ject is t o m erge s tructuralist a nd p oststructuralist narratology, a nd t hus h e coins the t erm ' socio-narratology'. Stories are not ideology-neutral, n ot e ven those formal science narratives
that stress realism, verifiability a nd replication. Social, economic a nd politi
cal values i nhude u pon n arratives. Narratives i n o rganization studies a nd
i n the Wall Street Joumal are ideological, a nd l egitimate t he e mpire build
ing of leaders, nations a nd o rganizations. I n t he alternative presses a nd t he
w orld w ide w eb, however, the boycotts of critical a nd p ostmodern activists
:ell other stories. Since deconstruction can a nd d oes expose ideological
!racks b ehind a s tatus q uo s tory line, there is ample resistance.
Definitions of deconstructions are avoided. O ne I like is b y J oanne
\1arOO. She defines deconstruction:
a s a n a nalytic strategy that exposes in a systematic w ay m ultiple w ays a text
can be interpreted. Deconstruction is able to reveal ideological assumptions
i n a w ay t hat is particularl.y sensitive to the s uppressed i nterests of m embers
of disempowered, marginalized groups. (1990: 340) For me, deconstruction is a postructuralist epistemology, n ot a f ormula
method w ith s teps a nd p rocedures. Defining deconstruction m ay be con
trary to the spirit of D errida's w riting. Yet, d econstruction often does
involve w ays o f r eading t hat decentre or otherwise u nmask n arratives
that pOSit a uthoritative c entres' According to D errida, all Western t hought
is based o n t he idea of a center - an o rigin, a Truth, a nd I deal Form, a fixed
Point, a n I mmovable Mover, a n Essence, a God, a Presence, w hich is u su
ally capitalized, a nd g uarantees all m eaning' (Powell, 1997: 21). But, cau
hon is i n order. I f w e j ust replace one centre w ith o ur o wn a uthoritative
centre, w e h ave fallen into o ur o wn t rap. The p oint t hen is n ot to replace
o ne c entre w ith a nother, b ut to s how h ow e ach centre is in a constant state
of c hange a nd disi.ntegration. The m ore a n arrative w orks to control a
.::entre, e ven o ne w ith a g rain of truth, t he m ore t he n arrative s pirals o ut
o f control. 20 NARRATIVE METHODS Misinterpretations of deconstruction
J acques Derrida (1999: 65-83) g ave a n i nterview p ublished b y K earney
a nd D ooley (1999) t hat I think resolves four basic m isunderstandings: Table 1.1 Story deconstrllc/:i',;
1. D uality search. M ake a Lbt 1. Is d econstruction a m ethod? D errida c ontends t hat d econstruction is
n ot a p hilosophy o r a m ethod, n or is it a p eriodizing p hase o r a
m oment (1999: 65). Rather, deconstruction h appens. I t is like the
e ntropy t hat is all a round us. Within organization studies, to p ara
phrase D errida (1999: 72), there is a h istory o f concepts that are b eing
t ransformed, deconstructed, criticized a nd i mproved. The s ame is
t rue o f o rganizations: the concepts, theories, p aradigms a nd n arra
tives are b eing d econstructed. Transformations, deconstruction a nd
r eformation are p art of the ongoing organizing process. Nevertheless, I
think there are w ays t o trace the influence of deconstruction as Table 1.1
p resents. This has to d o w ith p aying a ttention to t he h eterogeneous,
multiplicity of textual a nd i ntertextual processes from d uality to resi
tuation. But, I freely a dmit these are m y o wn r econstructions of
Derrida. Yet, a s D errida r emarks ' the s trategy o f deconstruction is: I
i nterpret a w ay to u nderstand m icro-power a nd ' what p owers m ay b e
i n s uch a nd s uch a c ontext' (1999: 74). D econstruction as a strategy, n ot
a m ethod, t races the micro-power of textual process, exposing cen
tralizing a nd u nravelling aspects, m aking less visible aspects more
2. D oes d econstruction e qual d estruction? D errida (1999) c ontends t hat
d econstruction is n ot ' negative' it is s omething t hat is h appening, a nd
i t does n ot i mply t hat c onstruction is n ot also h appening. ' I h ave
a lways insisted deconstruction i s n ot d estruction, is n ot a nnihilation,
is n ot n egative' ( Derrida, 1999: 77). A nd h e c ontinues, ' as s oon as y ou
r ealize t hat d econstruction is n ot s omething n egative, y ou c annot s im
ply o ppose i t t o r econstruction. H ow c ould y ou r econstruct a nything
w ithout d econstruction?' (1999: 77).
3. Is d econstruction e xtreme r elativism? There are s ome critics w ho
c ontend t hat t here m ust b e o nly o ne t ruth a nd t hat a dmitting t hat
there is n ot m eans all truths are e qual o r relative. W hat s uch a n a rgu
ment i gnores are the g rounded a nd s ituated aspects of discursive net
works a mong s takeholders. As Derrida responds:
What is relativism? Are you a relativist simply because you say, for
instance, that the other is the other, and that every other is other than the
other? 1£ I want to pay attention to the singularity of the other, the singu
larity of the situation, the singularity of language, is that relativism? ...
No, relativism is a doctrine which has its own history in which there are
only points of view with no absolute necessity, or no references to
absolutes. That is the opposite to what I have to say .... I have never said
such a thing. Neither have I ever used the word relativism. (1999: 78) 2. 3. 4. 5. 0: :' the story. Include the teml E ';C "
m ale-centred a nd l or m ale-d ::::-._-
and w omen a re marginal at: . 0
R einterpret the hierarchy. A ; ;.c
onc p oint o f view. I t u Sllalh': ; :-
and r einterpret the hierarch:; ~ ~
y ou c an u nderstand its grip.
Rebel voices. D eny the a uthor:.
exclude. To m aintain a centre .
exprcssed i n this story? WlUcil .
(e.g. W ho s peaks for the tree;;
O ther side o f the story. StoriE'; ~
o f the s tory ( usually marginaIr.::: _
story, by p utting the b ottom , 1;-.. _
front. For exampLe, reverse t he'
until it becomes a female centre
o ne c entre w ith a nother, bllt :[1 ~:
and d isintegration.
D eny the plot. Stories h ave p kr=
around ( move from romanti~
_ 6. Find the exception. Stories co.. :~
e xception i n a w ay that mak.'5 :: -
break the rules to see the Logtc t
7. Trace w hat i s between the lilii':5.
on the wall. Fill in the blanks... : .
story.' Trace w hat y on a re f ilIir;;
(e.g. trace to the context, the iJ.a·
8. R esituate. T he p oint o f doing
the story beyond its dllalislD;'. "
r eauthor the story so t hat the . - -
attained. Restory to r emove i..he
no more centres. Restor)' t o.- .:::: .. I t is n ot that 'one can _ -
socially s ituated limits ai-'
a nd political limit o n
t he question: can there
turalism? B auman (199.
D errida p uts i t ' I t ake i.n~·
(1999: 79). 4. Is t here a n o utside to teo _ .
js n othing o utside of t he:" - •
birds, trees a nd t he H I - _.
h ors-texte' is Derrida's ," --:: DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 21
Table 1.1 Story deconstruction guidelines ( adapted from Boje a nd
1. D uality search. Make a list of a ny b ipolar terms, a ny d ichotomies t hat a re used i n 2. 3. .1,. 3. 6. 7. S. the story. Include the term even if only one side is mentioned. For example, in
male-centred a nd/or m ale-dominated organization stories, m en are central
a nd w omen are marginal others. One term mentioned implies its partner.
Reinterpret the hierarchy. A s tory is one interpretation or hierarchy of a n e vent from
one p oint of view. lt usually has some form of hierarchical thinking i n place. Explore
a nd r einterpret the hierarchy (e.g. in duality teons h ow one dominates the other) so
you can understand its grip.
Rebel voices. D eny the authority of the one voice. Narrative centres marginalize or
exclude. To m aintain a centre takes enormous energy. W hat voices are n ot b eing
expressed in this story? Which voices are subordinate o r hierarchical to o ther voices
(e.g. Who speaks for the trees?)?
Other side o f the story. Stories always have two o r m ore sides. W hat is the other side
of the story (usually marginalized, under-represented, o r e ven silent)? Reverse the
story, b y p utting the b ottom o n top, the marginal i n control, o r the back stage u p
front. For example, reverse the male-centre, b y h olding a spotlight o n its excesses
until it becomes a female centre i n telling the other side; the poin t is n ot to replace
one centre with another, b ut to s how h ow e ach centre is i n a c onstant state o f c hange
a nd disintegration.
Deny the plot. Stories have plots, scripts, scenarios, recipes a nd morals. Turn these
around (move from romantic to tragic or comedic to ironic).
Find the exception. Stories contain rules, scripts, recipes a nd prescriptions. State each
exception in a w ay that makes i t extreme o r a bsurd. Sometimes you have to
b reak the rules to see the logic being scripted i n the story.
Trace w hat i s between the lines. Trace w hat is n ot s aid. Trace w hat is the writing
o n the wall. Fill in the blanks. Storytellers frequently use ' you k now t hat p art of the
story.' Trace w hat y ou are filling in. With w hat a lternate w ay c ould y ou fill it in
(e.g. trace to the context, tfie back stage, the between, the inter text)?
Resitltate. The p oint o f d oing 1 to 7 is to find a n ew perspective, one that resituates
the story beyond its dualisms, excluded voices o r s ingular viewpoint. The idea is to
r eauthor the story so that the hierarchy is resituated a nd a n ew balance of views is
attained. Restory to remove the dualities a nd margins. In a resituated story there are
no more centres. Restory to script n ew actions. It is n ot t hat ' one can say anything' t hat m atters; it is t hat t here are
socially situated limits a nd ' what o ne can assert'. There is a juridical
a nd political limit on extreme relativity. The charge of relativism begs
the question: can there be an ethic in p ostmodemism a nd p oststruc
turalism? Bauman (1993) asserts there is a p ostmodern ethics. As
Derrida p uts i t ' I take into account differences, b ut I a m n o relativist'
4. Is there a n o utside to text? Derrida is often critiqued for saying there
is nothing outside of the text, a m ove w hich w ould d eny t hat there are
birds, trees a nd t he Holocaust. But, w hat d id he say? 'Il n 'y a p as de
hors-texte' is Derrida's most misinterpreted slogan, a nd a ccording to 22 NARRATIVE METHODS C urrie ' does n ot m ean t here is n othing o utside the text as m ost
c ommentators h ave t aken it. It is closer to "There is no outside-text'''
(1998: 45). T he confusion is t hat D errida indicates t hat o utside the text
are o ther texts, b ut also material conditions of textual production, a nd
t ext traced into material conditions (i.e. factories, schools, bombs,
genocide a nd war). D errida clarifies t hat ' what 1 call the "text" is n ot
d istinct from action or o pposed to action' (1999: 65). A text is n ot t he
p ages of a book, it is a m uch b roader c oncept t hat i ncludes the politics
a nd ethics of action. 'The distinction b etween t ruth a nd reality is
absolutely elementary, as is the distinction between t ruth a nd veracity;
t hat is, to say something is true d oes n ot m ean t hat y ou say something
is real' (1999: 77).
With apologies to Derrida, I will outline eight analytic moves to decentre
a nd d econstruct stories (see Table 1.1).
T he e ighth m ove
Critics of deconstruction call m y first seven tactics in Table 1.1 m ere
destruction, b ut I t hink t hat i s because they d o n ot s ee or m aybe refuse
to see the e nd g ame, the eighth move, as deconstruction is controversial.
Structuralists h ave r aised counter-charges a bout the political r ight politics
of deconstructionist, P aul d e M an, in a w itchhunt for his w artime j ournal
ism w ith the N azi p ropaganda machine. 'The w artime j ournalism - mostly
inoffensive reviews for a collaborationist n ewspaper i n B elgium - was
Widely viewed as confirmation of the latent fascism i n d econstructive
narratology' (Currie, 1998: 7). T here h as b een a b acklash from this contro
versy a bout d econstruction a nd i deology i n Organization Science (Boje,
2000a; Weiss, 2000). O thers h ave s aid I err because I m ake d econstruction
too easy a nd too accessible. A few s tudents h ave t old m e t hat d econstruc
tion is negative thinking a nd d oes n ot l ead to solutions o r to change of
any kind. I do n ot a pologize for m aking it accessible a nd I c ontend decon
struction can result i n c hange a nd s olutions. M any critics, I believe, d o n ot
m ake the eighth move. The eighth move, as presented in Table 1.1, is to
resituate t he dualities, voices a nd traces, a nd its hierarchy into a n ew ren
dering of a s tory In this restorying, there is the possibility of n ew action,
of a w ay o ut of hierarchy a nd d omination. Of course a t the action level,
resituation is h appening a nyway, to a nalyse it is to note its unfolding.
Narrative constructs centres that marginalize or exclude. For example,
in a bureaucracy, m en are often given the central roles a nd b ecome the
s pokesmen fOF t he organization, while w omen's voices are silent, n ot
a uthorized to speak for the corporation (Clair, 1998). I f w e reverse the
male-centre, b y h olding a s potlight on its excesses until it becomes a
female centre, this m ay b e fair, just a nd reasonable, b ut it w ould faU s hort
of w hat w e seek in deconstruction. That is, a resituation of the narrative
so t hat t here are n o m ore centres, m ale o r female. We c an m ake the s ame case a bout race, ethnic and r.:'~.:
on one element at the excluS~L._
m ous energy. A nd since ( I _
text o f a p lurality of other na~
w ithout a ny p ushing, shO\'u"_ '
deconstruction is one of d T c-:_
. Eight d e constructive moves Duality search
1 aSSume stories are told iT" .. ' b inary oppOSites: m ale/fel .,:
heterosexual/homoseXllal, 1 ~.:.:'
p ermanentltemporary, o ld -:.
dualizing terms is to see thE : 2
r epresent m any d ifferent te ,.. ~,
a nd ' female' are cover tern'."" -=.
macho males a nd gentle l1Ui:.:-:: ~
v ariations of femininity. De ....:..=.
story) sel£-deconstructs, h o ''
own ( dualized) hierarch\' 0 .
the dominant. For example, ~"';_~""""'''''''
or a particular masculinifl;
a nd f ormalism, deconstrLlct=.. ..:.
n arrating, b ut looks for the .
lizing structural footprints ..
the hierarchy in the oppositi
or s ubordinated b inary te
problematic dualities w her . _
' other' is marginal, repress
honed, record the silence of i"so
of the text, a n i mplied t er" :
Dennehy, 1993). Look a t the .'
Look for the propaganda. \ . ',z:"":
utopian dream, progress-my!: ~ , c , _
~iple? Like now, I a m s ellin" '. , _
they h ide p eripheries. Mills :~. "
ror assumptions, silences, e>~.::: ...:. ~
: hat c ontain hierarchies, I f \' ,.
s educed into assuming t hat ". •i . . . ,:
: hauvinists a re feminists. f j
? ropaganda to let the 'constr .:::
: aymg tracks for a n a lternatin:' T --:: DECONSTRUCT[ON ANALYSIS 23 case about race, ethnic a nd m anagerial control narratives that are centred
on one element a t the exclusion of others. To m aintain a centre takes enor
mous energy. A nd since n o n arrative is an island, b ut i n a d ynamic con
:ext of a plurality of other narratives, the centred position self-deconstructs
without a ny p ushing, shoving or editing o n o ur part. The epistemology of
deconstruction is one of dynamic intertextuality, of constant change a nd
self-decons tru ction. Eight deconstructive m oves uality search
I a ssume stories are told in ways t hat seek centres a nd proliferate m any
b inary oppOSites: m ale/female, o rganization/environment, w hite/black,
h eterosexual/homosexual, quantita tive/ qualitative, m anagement/ worker,
p ermanent/temporary, o ld/young, etc. The point of reading a story for its
dualizing terms is to see the p lay of differences, h ow each t erm seeks to
~epresent m any d ifferent terms. I n m ale/female, for example, both ' male'
ilnd 'female' are cover terrns representing m any variations. There are
::nacho males a nd gentle males, gay a nd s traight males, just as there are
"ariations of femininity. Derrida writes of reading to see h ow t he text (or
~:-ory) s elf-deconstructs, h ow t he a uthor of a story h as r eversed h is/her
'. w n ( dualized) hierarchy of b inary terms, privileging the marginal over
J e d ominant. For example, privileging a male story over a female story,
,:Ir a p articular masculinity o r femininity over others. Like structuralism
, , d formalism, deconstruction is sensitive to binary oppositions in
-:1i'lrrating, b ut looks for the unstable qualities of binaries, n ot their stabi
:.izing structura~ footprints. A deconstructive reading of narrative traces
e hierarchy i n the opposition between a dominating a nd a m arginalized
.:lr s ubordinated b inary term. Review the narrative to isolate the m ost
r w blematic dualities where one term is central or privileged while the
o ther' is marginal, repressed or excluded. "When j ust one term is men
ioned, record the silence of its opposite. I t is reading ' between the lines'
::Ii the text, a n i mplied t erm c onspicuous b y its absence (Boje a nd
Dennehy, 1993). Look at the fictions. Look a t t he haves a nd have-nots.
:... o k for the propaganda. "Where is the text selling y ou a central vision,
,'fopian dream, progress-myth, essentialist concept o r t ranscendent prin
:ip}e? Like now, I a m selling y ou t hat narratives have centres, a nd t hat
::.ey hide peripheries. Mills a nd S immons (1994) refer to this as a search
,'or a ssumptions, silences, exclusions, deletions, asides a nd i llustrations
:.lat contain hierarchies. I f y ou o nly read the p ropaganda, y ou can be
~cduced i nto assuming that white is black, a dictator is a democrat, a nd
~nauvinists are feminists. Finding the dualities means lifting the veil of
: ropaganda to let the 'constructions' deconstruct, a nd d oing so without
:.lying tracks for a n a lternative propaganda. 24 NARRATIVE METHODS Reinterpret the hierarchy
T he h ierarchy l ives i n t he v alue s ystems y ou a re t rying to analyse. i t c an
b e a m ost v iolent h ierarchy i n w hich t he c entred t erm b ecomes t he R eal
a nd t he G ood w hile t he o ppressed o r e xcluded b ecomes t he U nreal a nd
t he Bad, s omething to b e b urned a t t he s take. O r it can b e m ore h idden
a nd t aken-for-granted, a s ubtle h egemony t hat g oes u nnoticed, m oving
b ehind t he s cenes t o t ilt o ther b inaries this w ay o r t hat. In m uch o f
o rganization t heory (OT) t he b inaries are ' managerialist' i n t heir i deo
logy: ' male-centred', w ith ' white' a nd ' Anglo' a ssumptions a bout t he
m anager's p erspectives b eing m ore r ight o r h aving m ore ' real' a gency
o r b eing m ore t he w ay of free m arket e conomies. O ne w ay to r einterpret
t he h ierarchy is reversal. 'For e xample, a r eversal of b inary o pposition
m ight b e o verthrowing p atriarchy for m atriarchy' (Clair, 1998: 110). A s
Clair observes, this j ust r eplaces one h ierarchy w ith i ts reversal. Yet, t he
r eversal c an o pen u p t he analysis a nd let u s t hink differently. W hat if
w e r everse m anager /work h ierarchy a nd l et w orkers c ontrol or exercise
democratic g overnance? I n t he reversal, the w orkers c annot s o easily
b e f ramed a s b ad, lazy, i n n eed o f m otivation a nd t oo u neducated t o
m anage t hemselves. You see h ow I a m s neaking i n m y o wn i deology
o f w orkers' d emocracy i n m y r eversal. I n M arxist n arratives, w hich I
d o s eem to prefer, the reversal h appens, t he w orkers' v iewpoint h as
p rivilege o ver t he capitalists a nd t heir m anager-agents. I n t he r eversal,
capitalists are b lood-sucking v ampires s queezing t he l ast o unce o f b lood
o ut o f labour.
D errida s ays Western t hought f orms these b inary o pposites, p utting
t hem i nto hierarchies. I t is n ot a lways easy to find h ierarchy b ecause a
n arrative m ay p retend to narrate the only ' true' reality. A democratic or
ecologist narrative (obviously b etter t han a m anagerialist, I a m b eing
ironic, or a m I?), m ay p resent w ays of b eing d emocratic t hat a re hierarchic
a nd elitist. O ne t erm m ay b e v ocal while t he o ther is absent, silent or a
s upplement to the p rimary t erm. L abour c an b e i n t he discourse used, a
' supplement' to m anagement, a nd vice versa.
I n F rench, supplement h as a d ouble m eaning: to a dd o n to a t hing
a lready c omplete in itself, o r to complete t he t hing b y a dding o n to it. In
m anagerialism, l abour is corrupting, perverse, lazy a nd u ndependable, a n
e xpensive item t hat n eeds to b e c ontrolled a nd a bandoned. S ometimes the
marginal term is n ot i n t he t ext a t all, it is i n t he implied, b ut m issing half
of duality. T here is h ierarchy i n t his s tring o f i mplied b inaries.
' Organizations w ould be great places if it w ere n ot for employees,' says
the managerialist. 'Organizations w ould be g reat p laces i f n ot for m an
agers,' says the Marxist. The deconstructive proof is t o s how h ow a
n arrative ( including this one) is able to accomplish the little p ropaganda
s teps t hat g et y ou t o b uy i nto w hat i t is selling y ou, its perspective above
all others. Where d o y ou b egin h ierarchy analysis? Trace w here t he
rhetoric does n ot live u p to its o wn e xpectations or is e ven t he o pposite of
w hat i t says it does. S how h ow t he narrative constructs a hierarchy b y p rivileging one t erm o n'r
m any b usiness contexts: Rebel '[Joices
T here are voices that d o n ot ",."."
friend Robert G ephart Jr., f o'.
hear a story a bout b usiness i l
speaks for the trees?'. Perha FS : . ,
about c ommissioners decidEr. -
site; or, an organization d .w£:", ~
c hanged is n ot a p art of th ~:.
n ity to write u p a counter-" -~
voice'. P utting t his rebel S ( IT"'
story p uts b oth i n a n ew con '
(1990) article deconstructs a~l":
n ational corporate presiden~ ~
w hat t he s tory says, w hat i '
is the s tory t old b y t he C EO: : We h ave a y otmg w oman \,:' Q : ,
o f a m ajor n ew ( product). \ .'
w orld w ide i ntroduction, S he '~:-
in o rder to b e p repared f or'
h ome a nd t his is g oing to - ':, :
haVing this d one b y T V for i1c:- ~~~
are f inding w ays o f filling i
i mportant t hing f or h er to t ilL ~ The s tory b egins 'We have
woman w orks for u s' (1990: ~ ,.,
the c ompany h as access to t e
h omelife - as well as h er ' .·"L'::
gives e mployers c ontrol 0 \' _ •
m edical t reatment a nd t heir -::.-..
implies t hat t he t iming q
a rranged' h ad to d o w ith !:he " ~
l aunching of a major ne,\'
'We h ave i nsisted t hat s he sta-.- !""" DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 25 p rivileging one t erm o ver t he other. The left t erm d ominates t he right in
m any b usiness cont~xts:
C entral: I: M arginal O rganization: I: E nvironment M anagernent:/: L abour C apital : /: L abour M ale : I: F emale Faculty : /: S tudent U S:!: T hird World N arrative : /: S tory Rebel voices
There are voices t hat d o n ot g et i ncluded i n a given telling of a s tory M y
friend Robert G ephart Jr., for example, is concerned w ith ecology. H e w ill
h ear a s tory a bout b usiness a nd t he n atural e nvironmentt a nd a sk ' who
s peaks for the trees?'. Perhaps it is t he c ommunity t hat is left out of a s tory
a bout commissioners deciding w here to locate a n ew toxic waste disposal
site; o r a n o rganization change storyt w here t he v oice of the p eople b eing
c hanged is n ot a p art of the story. I n t hese stories there is g ood o pportu
nity t o w rite u p a c ounter-narrative t hat tells the story w ith t he 'rebel
\'oice'. P utting this rebel story side b y s ide w ith t he ' dominant' o riginal
story p uts b oth i n a n ew context of meaning. For example t Joanne Martin's
:1990) article deconstructs a nd r econstructs a s tory told b y a l arge multi
national corporate p resident f rom a feminist perspective. She examines
w hat t he story says, w hat i t d oes n ot sa)" a nd w hat m ight h ave s aid. This
is t he s tory told b y t he C EO to a university conference audience:
t We h ave a y oung w oman w ho is extraordinarily i mportant to the l aunching
of a major n ew ( product). We w ill b e t alking a bout i t n ext Tuesday i n i ts first
w orld w ide i ntroduction. She h as a rranged to h ave h er Caesarean y esterday
i n o rder to b e p repared for this event, s o y ou - We h ave i nsisted t hat s he stay
h ome a nd t his is going to b e televised i n a closed circuit television, s o w e're
h aving this d one b y TV for her, a nd s he is s taying h ome t hree m onths a nd w e
are finding w ays o f filling in to create this v oid for u s b ecause w e think i t's a n
i mportant t hing for h er to do. (1990: 339) The s tory b egins 'We h ave a y oung w oman . ..' r ather t han ' A y oung
',\'oman w orks for u s' (1990: 344). ' Having,' a rgues M artin ' suggests t hat
~he c ompany h as access to the w hole of the w oman - her h ealth a nd h er
:'tomelife - as w ell as h er w ork' (1990: 345). The e mployment c ontract
gives employers control over w ork b ehaviour, b ut l eaves homelife, a nd
: nedical t reatment a nd t heir timing choices to the employee. The story
:mplies t hat t he timing a nd choice of the Caesarean o peration ' she
H anged' h ad t o d o w ith t he c orporation ' being p repared f or' a nd ' the
b unching o f a major n ew ( product)' a nd 'its w orld w ide i ntroduction'.
'We h ave i nsisted t hat s he s tay h ome' i ndicates that the c orporation ( 'we') 26 NARRATIVE METHODS ' took r esponsibility for m aking d ecisions t hat a re u sually t he responsibility
of a d octor a nd a p atient - not a n e mployer' (1990: 345). T he c ompany
' we're h aving t his d one b y TV for h er' i nitiated t he c losed circuit TV
i nstalled i n t he e mployee's b edroom. M artin c ontends t hat t he e mployee
h as l ost c ontrol o ver t he p rivate d ecisions a bout w hat g oes o n i n h er
b edroom. T he c orporation, s he a rgues, m ay b e i nvading h er p rivacy o r
s he m ay h ave w elcomed t he T V's installation. T he g aps i n t he s tory s peak
p owerfully o f hierarchy.
T he voice of c orporate c ontrol d ominates t his s tory a nd t he w ord c hoices
m ay i ndicate l evels of d iscomfort a nd t ension a t t he i nterpenetration o f
w ork a nd h ome c ontexts. T he d iscursive u tterances o f t he C EO s toryteller
a nnounce t he p roblematic j uxtaposition o f w ork a nd h omelife. T here is
i nstability i n t he s tory l ines i n w hich p erhaps t he t eller's s ubconscious
b egins t o s peak i n F reudian slips. M artin r ewrites t he s tory w ith a r ebel
voice, c hanging t he f emale c haracter to a m an. S ince m en d o n ot h ave
C esarean s urgery, s he r econstructs t he s tory l ine w ith a m ale s urgery.
We h ave a y oung m an w ho is extraordinarily i mportant to the l aunching o f a
major n ew ( product). We will b e t alking a bout i t n ext T uesday in its first
w orld w ide i ntroduction. H e h as a rranged [sic) t o h ave h is c oronary bypass
o peration y esterday i n o rder to b e p repared for this event, so y ou - We h ave
i nsisted t hat h e s tay h ome a nd t his is going to be televised i n a closed circuit
television, so w e're haVing this d one b y TV for h im, a nd h e is staying h ome
three m onths a nd w e a re f inding w ays of filling i n to create this void for u s
b ecause w e t hink i t's a n i mportant t hing for h im to do. (1990: 346) A nother r ebel voice is r evealed - the u nborn child. I n t he b ypass, o nly t he
m an's life is i n j eopardy b y c hanging t he t iming o f t he o peration. ' The
C esarean s tory s uggests t hat t he m other m ay h ave j eopardized h er c hild,
o r a t l east a ltered t he t iming of its b irth t o fit t he s chedule of a p roduct
i ntroduction' ( Martin, 1990: 347). Other side of the story
R eversing t he h ierarchy r eplaces o ne c entre w ith a nother. Yet, i t is a u sehll
w ay t o t race differences. O nce y ou c an s tate t he h ierarchic r elationshir
b etween t he t wo t erms, y ou c an d escribe t he p lay of differences of v ariants
w ithin e ach t erm. This a ssumes t here a re s ubtle a nd c omplex v ariations
i n e ach t erm o f t he d uality, e.g. m anagers a re also e mployees, p rofessors
a re a lso m anagers, a nd s tudents a re also t he e yes of t he a dministration.
Similarly, a b ureaucracy c an t ake m any forrns: c orrupt, r ed t ape, protector
of t he w eak, p redictable processes, d ue p rocess, r estraint of a busive p ower.
Reversing m eans to look a t t he w ays i n w hich t he o ther t erm is s ometimes
a nd i n s ome w ays t he m ore d ominant t erm. For e xample, r e-engineering
m ay s ay i t ' bashes' a nd ' smashes' A dam S mith's d ivision of l abour o r M ax
W eber's b ureaucracy, b ut r e-engineering also creates bureaucracy, ('ivision
of labour, cyber-mechanical processes, a nd h ere a nd t here, d estroys t he
flexibility t hat i s its claim to fame. S ubvert t he o riginal hi
t he d uality b y l isting t he \ "-:" ..
t ions o f e ach t erm. For ex", ':"" . .:.
c ase of t he m arginal t er
' rebel v oices'; g iving v oice '
see reversals in t he domina;: :
author's c entrist n arrati\'e .:
c lues a nd t races of t he h ierar"
trace o f a p lane i n t he d Oll ~":'_
y ou l ook a t p hallologoc lr.: ~
m any of t he p referred
o riented, n urturing, a nd 5-. " -.:_
g enerally a ssociated w ith t~"f :_
p hase o f t he a nalysis. I n tht' :.- - :
the i mplied s upplement A r' 0 - '
n ant r elationship w ith i ts <h-..~~~"~
e thnic, n on-White, n on-£ ~ _ =
for the h ierarchies i n t he te).." ' Deny the plot S tories h ave p lots, s cripts,' -,,~ tive t he p lots a re n ot agree," :
precedence (see C hapter ), :'~: what c aused a n e vent, a nd " .t Plots k nown s ince Plato a re.
o f t he n arratives I r ead i n m r = :.,c
a r omantic p lot t hat d oes n . :.:! . -_
F ortune 500 c ompany is al"a'~
j obs a nd c lean u p t he e m·irw.; '. ~
s tories a bout t hese s ame CEo 5 ;;,- .
I n fact, y ou c an f ind q uite tra~~ ~ :"
l abour a nd e nvironmental tr' " , ,
stories y ou s ometimes f ind c o::
a s cript f or h ow to bel1a\'e, a i :'
s tory e nds w ith a s elf-e\'iden:
na1"ios, r ecipes a nd m orals , ...... ' ..:..
Ciln b e a ccompIished b y trace : ::-:_
ries. Tracing a s tory i nto i t- iL ~
p renarrated s tories a nd ant"t."!_la:::ri~
the text in i ntertextual relati
i l c ontext of o ther a ntenarra \-'.:: _
n etwork o f s tories of o ther mE'.a~
0" Find the exception
W hat is t he e xception t hat _ !":-. ::.:..:
recipe o r m oral a nd somehO\.\, e=-:.~_
h ing a bout a r ule is t hat ther::- ; DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 27 S ubvert t he original hierarchy b etween t he central a nd m arginal t erm of
the d uality b y l isting t he v ariations a nd s ubtle differences a nd m anifesta
tions of each term. For example, s how h ow t he d ominant t erm is a special
case of the m arginal t erm, a nd vice versa. Boje a nd D ennehy (1993) call it
'rebel voices': giving voice to the marginal perspectives. This l eads y ou to
see reversals i n t he d ominant hierarchy. You c an u sually s how h ow t he
a uthor's c entrist n arrative d econstructs itself. The a uthor m ay p rovide
clues a nd traces of t he h ierarchy a nd i ts o wn reversals. I t i s like seeing t he
trace of a p lane i n the cloud-prints, b ut n ot s eeing a plane. For example, if
y ou l ook a t p hallologocentric (male organ + logic) m anagement texts,
m any of the preferred qualities of a leader s uch a s b eing social, t eam
oriented, n urturing, a nd s ensitive as a communicator are ideal qualities
generally associated w ith t he female. Isolating ideals is t he p oint of this
p hase of the analysis. I n t he reversal, female begins to d ominate m ale, as
the i mplied s upplement. A t this stage, w e h ave o nly replaced one d omi
nant r elationship w ith i ts opposite. This can m ean s ubstituting a feminist,
ethnic, non-White, n on-European o r non-managerialist a ssumption s et
for t he h ierarchies i n t he text. There is m ore to do.
e ny the plot Stories h ave p lots, scripts, scenarios, recipes a nd m orals. Yet, i n a ntenarra
tive the p lots are n ot a greed u pon, t here is d issensus o ver w hose p lot g ets
precedence (see C hapter 7). P lots also convey a t heory of causality, w ho o r
.vhat caused a n event, a nd w hat e vents are inter-connected (see C hapter 6).
Plots k nown since Plato are romantic, tragic, comedic a nd ironic. M any
of the narratives I read i n m anagement a nd o rganization textbooks h ave
oil r omantic p lot t hat d oes n ot g et denied. The CEO is always the hero, the
Fortune 500 c ompany is always e ngaged i n ' progress' to p rovide s ecure
jobs a nd c lean u p t he e nvironment. Yet, i n t he a lternative press, there are
stories a bout t hese same CEOs a nd c orporations t hat are n ot s o romantic.
i ll fact, y ou c an find quite tragiC stories a bout m any ( not all) t hat a re a bout
t b our a nd e nvironmental tragedy. A nd i n D oonsebury a nd o ther cartoon
ories y ou s ometimes find c omedy a nd irony. The p lot o f t he s tory is also
.:l s cript for h ow to behave, a scenario of w hat f ollows what, a nd o ften, the
~tory e nds w ith a s elf-evident moral claim. Turn these plots, scripts, seearias, recipes a nd m orals a round to highlight the centring devices. This
~i\n b e accomplished b y t racing the story p lot to different plots i n o ther sto
~ies. Tracing a story into its inter-story context (into the Tamara of m any
p renarrated stories a nd a ntenarratives) also invites a political r eading of
. e text i n i ntertextual relation to other texts. H ow d oes the story reference
a context of o ther a ntenarratives, self-destructing one m eaning i n a w eb o r
network of stories of other meanings (see C hapter 4)?
::illd the exception , vhat is t he e xception t hat b reaks t he r ule t hat d oes n ot fit the storied
cipe or moral a nd s omehow escapes the strictures of the principle? The fun
- ling a bout a r ule is that there are always exceptions. These exceptions
f 28 N ARRATNE M ETHODS c an be located in the context of the s toried s ituation, t hat is, i n t he
intertextual arena of o ther s tories (see C hapter 5). T here are o ther s tories
a bout t he rule being centred a nd s howcased, a nd these can be stories
w here t he rule does n ot h old. Since rules a nd w hat t hey p urport to 'fix'
are always in flux a nd c hange, the exceptions are e merging all t he time.
State t he rule i n a w ay t hat m akes i t s eem e xtreme or a bsurd, o r j ust p oint
o ut s ome of the w ays it is self-deconstructing w ith c hanges in context. A
rule s uch as ' you c an't c hange t hat', o r ' there's n othing y ou c an d o a bout
it, [or] [M]en are just t hat w ay' can be challenged (Clair, 1998: 81) b ecause
rules are political constructions t hat h elp to reify hierarchy (Mumby,
1987). C lair (1998) a rgues that s uch r ules help to silence sexual h arassment
stories, keeping t hem p art of t he p rivate d omain ' we d on't t alk a bout t hat'
o r u sed to d eny p ersonal e xperience i n f avour of narratives t hat follow
the bureaucratic rules. For example i n t he ' bureaucratization of sexual
h arassment' t he rules are i t is n ot ' harassment' u nless y ou ' say n o', ' keep
a r ecord', of e ach o ccurrence, a nd ' report i t' to the p roper c hannels. A nd
w hat h appens w hen y ou f ollow t he rules, s ay i n u niversities? ' Oddly
e nough, " report i t" seems to b e t he e nd of t he s tory for m ost u niversities.
The exchange has been c ompleted' (Clair, 1998: 117). T he irony is all three
rules act to 'bureaucratize, commodify, a nd p rivatize sexual harassment'.
I f we d eny t he rules, w e e xpose some interesting stereotypes. For example,
'the requirement of documentation p erpetuates t he stereotype that w omen
lack credibility; t hat s exual h arassment w ithout w itnesses, times, dates,
a nd s o on also lacks credibility; a nd t hat w ritten c odes (i.e., documenta
tion) create a false reality that action is b eing t aken' (Clair, 1998: 119). most familiar thing in the w0"~~~ : ,
out the gramme, Without diH\?=---~
ence of the other inscribed v :;:.
relation to death as the c C "",-"
presence-absence of the tl'ac. . H egemony (passive, taken- 'or cion (force) are w ays to org control others: 'silencinoo 6·~ ' l-''' :
forms ... silence m ay b e achie-- -
(Clair, 1998: 67). A n oisv CEO r ~
w ith n o t ime for questions i ::' ,
way, m aybe t he only wa\', t t '__
b etween the lines is a w ay'to .:i'O"': . . :., Resituate
The first seven steps allm-\' 1I:'= : .: _ ,
is to remove the domination
is time to renarrate the narra.1\'
sometimes is a free p lay of
very least, t wo r eadings of
the ill\decidability of d oubl I _-:
the text is n on· hierarchical; j ' : - - _
do this w ithout r eplacing n e c .__
a nother). I t d oes little g ood t r" _'
o r o ne r acist hierarchy for al"lO:<'
praxis, a n ew p attern of beha\': _'
(1993) call this w riting a n ew;:- .
hierarchies. The resituation orr :~~"
refer to as 're-Writing the Text t - .,
m enting a nd t esting o ut ne~''- :>
look like? The n ew n arratin' H l',J
d econstruction, a nother e x i "~ ..
Barbara C zamiawska (1'(}q
C amelis Escher ( 1898-197_)
o rganization t heory is focu.s- ~ __ .
s wans, w hile w e deconstrucu<'" -~.
;'ish, T he i dea of deconstruc C": ...:.
\'isioning. Figure 1.1 capture:o ',', ~ _.
i ng b eneath t he surface of the~: . State what is between the lines
Trace w hat is n ot said. Read b etween t he s tory lines. Trace w hat is the
w riting o n t he wall a nd w here p eople resist b y b eing silent. Fill in the
b lanks as y ou trace. Storytellers frequently use ' you k now t hat p art of
the story.' W hat a re y ou filling i n as y ou r ead ' you k now' t he story? With
w hat a lternate ways could y ou fill it i n (e.g. get a t t he context, the back
stage, the between)? I t is a question of systematically tracing h ow t he
s tory e ncourages y ou to b orrow f rom a heritage of o ther stories. Some of
the stories are y our o wn life experiences. O thers a re stories the s tory y ou
r ead refers back to. Each story inscribes a nother story. Each story is related
intertextually to a nother s tory (see C hapter 5). A v ery b rief story, told to
those in the know, can key the s tory co-creators (tellers a nd co-tellers, a nd
co-listeners) to recall a more extensive s tory line. W hen w e tell a s tory to
people w ho k now t he longer version, w e s ometimes skip the details a nd
s peak a few c oded lines. But these abbreviated lines refer to lines that are
not said; ones w e a re expected to imagine. They are traces of lines
b etween t he lines of t he story. Derrida p uts it this w ay in Grarnmatology: Example: d econstructing t he ca ~::.: This trace is the opening of the first exteriority in general, the enigma tic rela
tionship of the living to its other and of an inside to a n outside: spacing. The
outside, 'spatial' and 'objective' exteriority which we believe we know as the r acques Derrida has looked a :'
~\'[arx', D errida (1994) p lays .<..
rn.troducing t he t erm ' hauntol DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 29 m ost familiar thing i n the w orld, as familiarity itself, w ould n ot a ppear w ith
o ut t he g ramme, w ithout diHerance as temporalization, w ithout the n onpres
ence of t he o ther i nscribed w ithin t he m eaning o f t he p resent, w ithout t he
r elation to d eath as t he concrete s tructure o f the living p resent . ... T he
presence-absence o f the trace . ... (1976: 41~3) H egemony ( passive, taken-far-granted a nd s pontaneous assent) a nd coer
.::ion (force) are w ays t o organize silence, w ays for d ominant g roups to
,~ontrol o thers: 'silencing g roups of p eople m ay t ake o n a m ultitude of
i orms . .. silence m ay b e a chieved t hrough coercion or t hrough h egemony'
rClail~ 1998: 67). A noisy CEO can silence everyone else; a m eeting s et u p
,\'ith no t ime for questions is a w ay to silence. But b eing s ilent is also a
','ay, m aybe the only way, to express resistance. R eading t he silence
'- etween t he lines is a w ay to deconstruct the forces t hat o ppress. Resituate
The first seven s teps a llow u s to g et to this point. The t ask of resituation
~s t o remove t he d omination of t he h ierarchy of the d uality i n t he story. I t
-.s t ime to renarrate t he n arrative. S how h ow t he narrative can become or
::ometimes is a free p lay o f the b inary o pposites b eyond hierarchy. A t t he
" ery least, t wo r eadings o f the b inary (one reversed) can b e s uspended i n
:he undecidability of double logic. W hen t here is n o c entral configuration
:he text is non-hierarchical; it is d ouble m.eaning. The p roblem is h ow to
. 0 t his w ithout r eplacing o ne c entre for a nother c entre (one hierarchy for
:mother). I t d oes little g ood t o replace a male hierarchy w ith a female one
: r one racist hierarchy for a nother one. W hat is it like to b ehave i n a n ew
:>raxis, a n ew p attern of b ehaviours w ithout h ierarchy? Boje a nd D ennehy
1 .93) call this w riting a n ew p lot or restorying b eyond t he d ominant
ierarchies. The resituation of the text is w hat Mills a nd S immons (1994)
:'1:'fer to a s ' re-Writing the Text to create n ew ' praxis'. Praxis m eans e xperi
:.. e nting a nd t esting o ut n ew actions a nd r elationships. W hat c ould i t
o k like? T he n ew n arrative y ou create c an b ecome t he subject of a nother
J€constructiol1, a nother e xploration of binary, hierarchy, reversal a nd
B arbara C zarniawska (1999) c ommenting a bout t he a rt of M aurits
:::ornelis Escher (1898-1972) p ointed o ut t hat m uch o f m anagement a nd
r ganization theory is focused above t he w ater line seeing only the black
-"':ans, while w e d econstructionists focus b elow t he w ater line seeing the
h . T he idea of deconstruction is to s ee b oth i mages, to d o a d ouble
Ibioning. Figure 1.1 c aptures w hat I m ean b y d econstruction. I t is look
:tg b eneath t he s urface of t he story.
::xample: d econstructing t he c apitalllabour d uality
c ques D errida h as l ooked a t M arxism. I n h is a ddress, t he ' Specters of
Derrida (1994) p lays w ith t he philosophical term, 'ontology', b y
. .oducing t he t erm ' hauntology'. O ntology l ooks a t 'Being in the w orld', r rx', 30 NARRATIVE METHODS 'subjugation a nd o ppression
418), o ccupy positions of C<l ---:;- ~ managers are hired to pUffir _
trol the labour process to n,c
rather t han i ncreasing the self- :0
workers, The duality here i5 ' :-O?":
A rticulate the hierarchy C apital dominates l abom ~":- -.
(1974: ), This m eans t hat la' , value) t hat b ecomes profit. ~ labour (knowledge of labo . . t "-_ g reedy accumulation of more - , poverty a nd d ependency L L is d isplaced b y a utomation, "'-0 fagriculturallabom a nd female.,: __ ':he l abour p rocess theory l .::oncisely: I Source: M .C. Escher works, Cordon A rt, Baarn, t he N etherlands. Figure 1.1 Escher's black swans and fish Find the dualities
B raverman s ays t hat c apital a nd l abour constitute a g iant d uality
(1974: 377), B raverman views m anagers as agents who while sharing in ........ _. • Capital dominates labour b-,
number of workers i n a gj;.. c.~
m echanization o f jobs prG! .. : c: _
u nder-employed o r p artia _'
l abour d own (1974: 3 82-3 .
• Capital, says Marx 'thru.s:.~
p roduction .. , transfol'ma!(l"
u nemployed o r h alf-emplo\'
1974: 383), 'The purpose 0 '" '1:
number o f workers attach w hile h auntology looks at the space between being a nd n on-being,
the place of ghosts a nd spectres. I n a pproaching M arx, Derrida is able to
m ove b eyond t he d uality of c apital/labour to look in-between a t t he
h auntology of Marxism.
I n M arx's Communist Manifesto (1848), M arx uses the w ord ' specter', ' A
s pecter is h aunting E urope, the specter of C ommunism.' The p owers o f
Europe seek to conjure a way o r exorcise this spectre. After the Berlin Wall
fell, m any a ssumed t hat i ndeed M arxism was d ead a nd t hat m onopoly
c apitalism was triumphant. But, w ith l abour process theory a nd N eo
Marxism, the ghost of Marxism keeps h aunting capitalism. Braverman
(1974) a cknowledges a c ommon d uality t hat w e u nravel w ith s everal of
the approaches in Table 1.1. 11 1! _ • Race comes into p layas t i"x :'
p opulations become r esen
• G ender c omes into p lay 3 5 -, -
ing jobs to s upplement thE- _: - - ~
• T he i ndustrial r eserve arrrn1. t he f loating e mplO\'tt5' _
2. the b tent worl<e;s fo.: recruitment in Chir'l.a \
3, the s tagnant s urpI 5
a nd g et to live as p a
t he 'concealed pro 0- <
i n t he u nemploym :tI. 5 :4 "
t he US h ave been
sector, while Im-ver-I:
(1974: 391-3). DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 31 , .l b jugation a nd o ppression' t hat c haracterize t he l ives of w orkers (1974:
.., 18), o ccupy positions of c omparative p rivilege. As agents of capital,
agers are h ired to p ump s urplus v alue o ut of labour. Managers con
_ I t he l abour process to maximize capitalist p rofit a nd a ccumulation
_ ther t han i ncreasing the self-determination, skill a nd w age c ondition of
·orkers. The d uality h ere is c apital/labour. tjculate the hierarchy
'::apital d ominates l abour, or as B raverman p uts it: ' Capital is l abour'
_974: ). This m eans t hat l abour p roduces t he s urplus v alue (over w age
ue) t hat b ecomes profit. Explore the hierarchy: capital a ppropriates
u ur ( knowledge o f l abour b ecomes systemic knowledge) i n its acts of
,.- edy accumulation of m ore a nd m ore c apital as l abour is s queezed i nto
-erty a nd d ependency. L abour b ecomes m ore a nd m ore m arginal as it
....=. d isplaced b y a utomation, d e-skilled a nd s ubstituted for cheaper l abour
J. r iculturallabour a nd f emales e mployed a t l ower w ages). This is w here
- e l abour process t heory (the q uestion I a sked of you) gets articulated
Capital dominates labour b y m echanization a nd a utomation to keep the
n umber of w orkers i n a g iven i ndustry to a m inimum (1974: 381). T he
mechanization of jobs p roduces s urplus p opulations (of u nemployed,
t rnder-employed or partially e mployed a dults) w hich d rives the p ay of
labour d own (1974: 382-3).
C apital, says M arx ' thrusts itself frantically into o ld b ranches of
p roduction . .. transformation of a p art of the laboring p opulation i nto
. memployed o r half~employed h ands' ( Marx as cited in Braverman,
1974: 383). 'The purpose of machinery is not to increase but to decrease the
number of workers attached to i t' (1974: 384).
• Race comes into p layas t he Black, Spanish a nd A sian c ountries a nd
p opulations become reservoirs of the lowest p aid l abour (1974: 384-5).
G ender c omes into p layas w omen are funnelled into m uch l ower p ay
ing jobs to s upplement t he r ace-reservoir of labour.
T he i ndustrial r eserve a rmy h as three parts:
1. t he f loating e mployees w ho m ove f rom job to job;
2. t he l atent w orkers f ound i n agricultural areas (e.g. N ike's
r ecruitment i n C hina, Vietnam a nd I ndonesia) a nd
3. t he s tagnant s urplus of w orkers w ho n o l onger c an f ind w ork
a nd g et to live as p aupers (1974: 386-7). T he first a nd s econd are
the 'concealed p roportion o f the p opulation w ho d o n ot s how u p
i n t he u nemployment statistic. Males, particularly Black males in
the US h ave b een m oved, m ore a nd m ore i nto t he s tagnant
sector, while lower-paid w omen a nd e xported jobs increase'
(1974: 391-3). 32 NARRATIVE M EffiODS • As w ealth i ncreases, t he i ndustrial r eserve a rmy also increases as does
the t orment a nd m isery of l abour (1974: 396). This is the a bsolute g en
eral l aw o f c apitalist a ccumulation (1974: 388-9). As capital accumu
lates, so does misery.
• With t he t echnical d ivision o f l abour a nd h ierarchical c ontrol, the
l abour process c an b e ' rationalized' (1974: 408).
• The service sector of lower a nd l ower p aid jobs e xpands i n p roportion
t o the i ndustrial r eserve army.
• Finally, t he c lerical a nd m iddle m anagement r anks are b eing s ubjected
n ow to these s ame trends.
• In s um, t his is t he l abour p rocess theory, the m ovement of m ass n um
bers of higher p aid a nd h ighly skilled males into the i ndustrial r eserve
army, w hile t he r ulers of i ndustry t ake o ut l arger a nd l arger p ay a nd
s tock options for themselves. With m ore i nformation technology t he
r anks a nd p ay of m iddle m anagement c ontinue to decline. Reverse the duality
B raverman d e constructs his o wn d uality. H e n otes t hat ' Labour i s
C apital' (1974: 377). C apital d epends u pon l abour to extract its capital
s urplus. N ot o nly w orkers, b ut m anagers ( especially m iddle o nes) a re
s ubjugated a nd o ppressed. A nother r eversal: t he i ndividual e ntrepre
neur, s ays M ax Weber, is i ndeed a c apitalist. T he c apitalist i n b uilding a
b usiness c hooses b etween a dopting a f eudal a nd a b ureaucratic s truc
ture. Capital i n t he d ysfunctional s ide of b ureaucracy p ays l abour s ub
sistence wages, s ubstitutes d e-skilled l abour for skilled l abour p uts
p eople i n a h ierarchy o f s pecialized r anks a nd f unctions - and o vertime
m oves w ages b elow t he p overty line. M arx w rote a bout t he n eed t o
exorcise M arxism f rom capitalism. This c ould b e o ur W estern inability
to l ook a t u nder-employment, h omelessness, c hild l abour, r acism,
de-skilling, sexism, e nvironmental d eterioration a s a cost of b usiness
t hat i s s hunted o nto tax p ayers. T he g host o f M arxism g oes b eyond t he
totalitarian r epression t hat fell (we h ope) w ith t he Berlin Wall. D errida
s ees d econstruction a s a m ore r adical f orm of Marxism. To r everse t he
d uality w ould m ake l abour m ore i mportant t han c apital. There are sys
tems of e nterprise, s uch a s c oops a nd w orker-owned f irms w here l abour
is capital. There are also f irms s uch as Body Shop, Ben a nd J erry's, Toms
of Maine, etc. t hat p ut s ocial a nd e nvironmental r esponsibility a head of
Resituate the dualih;
I n r esituation w e 1~ok a t t he larger context i n w hich capital a nd l abour a re
i n i nterplay i n t he g lobal economy. There are examples of g reed a nd n on
greed i n b usiness formation. L abour c an a nd d oes resist the greed form of
capitalism. Capital is d ependent o n l abour a nd t herefore l abour can b e
r adical a nd d emocratic i n i ts reversal of h uman a nd ecological destruction
(Alvesion a nd Willmott, 1996). A r esihlation looks a t h ow m anagers a re m anipulated a nd e ncourag ,- ,r
while p ursuing s urplus \.
M anagers, for example, a F, .::"'<::,................. profit s haring a nd s tock sche:-:-:~·
labour. Both m anagers a nd'. .
p linary a nd p anoptic mechan":-.. ':
vate t he p rofit maximizing g . ::
the d etriment o f t he workfor'::'e:
t ured b y capital? The manage:- ~ .
also engages in family a nd . -:
s ubmits, rebels or is integrat . - -;
w hich p uts t he s ystem a head 0 :
To m ove b eyond t he d ua . tv" :.5
c orporate success a nd t hat m a ,~
s elfhoods, only one of w hich 15- .__ =
This w as t he concern o f M an' p~ - '. •
in the economics of the firm: L : :
democracy c ould b e pOSSible.
Still it is no accident that m " h ;:--:
from workers. A nd i t is no ace:"
governance a nd a way from a
stance. I t is a social division i :" ':- ""-' .
dedicated agents of capital. Bl . . - '"_
w orker a nd m anager are n ot"
tion has advocated. We can loc,:: ~ _
managers to b e its executioner:o _::.
The v alue o f l ooking a t lah t e e
(i.e. s uch as the team concept. T .
\'\'orking) j ust p resent t he old '.,-~ ...
The n ew m anagement p racti .'",,-:
but can be seen as a n ew disg' - :
surplus v alue. Teamwork, d ela\
to g et ' workers to identif" tho T:" _.
(Lucio a nd S tewart, 1997). Tee
loyalties o n i nternal corupetiFl
w ork ( workers d o t he w ork fo
a nd auto-surveillance (mcludi ,:: ;
l D errida sees i n M arx a history _~: ~
spectres t hat e mbod y the s piri: :
duces, in resituating Marxism.:~ ::
of the w orking poor, in the his c ~ ~
( other spectres). For Marx, t he, - ~
ontological, 'rock b ottom reali:
becomes a commodity, a nd ~:;:' , c.
e xchange value of the product. F , DECONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS 33 m anipulated a nd e ncouraged to s uspend t heir p ersonal v alues a nd e thics
w hile p ursuing s urplus v alue maximizing strategies.
Managers, for example, are s educed a nd c ontrolled b y e laborate b onus,
profiit s haring a nd s tock schemes to k eep e xtracting s urplus v alue f rom
labour. Both m anagers a nd w orkers a re c aught u p i n a p anopoly of disci
plinary a nd p anoptic mechanisms (Foucault, 1979). Senior m anagers ele
vate t he p rofit m aximizing g oal above aU else (do the b idding o f capital to
the d etriment of t he workforce). But, is m anagerial w ork w holly struc
tured b y capital? The m anager s peaks a d iscourse a bout profit-only, b ut
also engages in family a nd c ommunity d iscourse. L abour p rotests and
submits, rebels or is integrated into this system (Braverman, 1974: 378)
which p uts t he s ystem a head o f t he i ndividuals.
To m ove b eyond t he d uality is to see t hat l abour c an h ave i nterest i n
c orporate success a nd t hat m anagement c an e xperience a multiplicity of
selfhoods, o nly o ne of w hich is being capital's s urplus m aximizing agent.
This w as t he concern of M ary P arker F ollett (1941), to g et w orkers t rained
in the economics of the firm, its m arket a nd i ndustry. I n t his w ay w orker
d emocracy c ould b e possible.
Still it is no accident that m anagers h ave a privileged a nd d istant position
from workers. A nd it is no accident t hat w orkers are kept o ut of corporate
governance a nd a way from a knowledge of business context a nd circwn
stance. It is a social division of labour that allows m anagers to continue as
dedicated agents of capital. But, in the resituation, I h ave a rgued that b oth
w orker a nd m anager are n ot so wutary, as t he labour process characteriza
tion has advocated. We c an look more carefully at h ow capital disciplines
managers to be its executioners a nd h ow m anagers resist this role.
The v alue of looking a t l abour p rocess theory is to see h ow n ew fads
(i.e. s uch as the t eam concept, TQM, reengineering, a nd s ubcontractor net
working) j ust p resent the o ld w olf i n n ewly f ashioned s heep's c lothing.
The n ew m anagement practices a ppear to b e m ore a ffirming of workers,
b ut c an be s een a s a n ew d isguise for l abour p rocess a nd t he e xtraction of
s urplus v alue. Teamwork, delayering a nd q uality p rogrammes are w ays
to get ' workers to identify their interests as identical to those of capital'
(Lucio a nd S tewart, 1997). Teamwork t for example, constructs collective
loyalties o n i nternal c ompetition w ithin t he t eam i n w ays t hat intensifies
w ork ( workers d o t he w ork f ormerly d one b y s upervisors)t stress, injury
a nd a uto-surveillance (including self-surveillance).
D errida s ees in M arx a h istory of Europe as a succession or m useum o f
spectres t hat e mbody t he s pirit of revolution. The p roblem D errida intro
duces, in resituating Marxism t is to look a t M arx's o ntology of revolution
of the w orking p oort in the historical context of o ther w orker r evolutions
(other spectres). For M arxt t he u se value of a p roduct t is its real b eingt its
ontological, ' rock b ottom r eality' (Powell, 1995). As a p roduct is soldt it
becomes a commodityt a nd is h aunted b y a g host, a (no)thing - the
exchange value of the product. For example, t he use value of t he ' Swoosh' 34 NARRATIVE METHODS i n M arxist t hought is a few p ennies w orth o f fabric! while the market value
of the Swoosh o n s neakers is $80 to $180 a t NikeTown. D errida q uestions
M arx's c oncept of use value. 'Is it really t here first! f undamentally, o nto
logically' (Powell! 1995: 146).
The c ommodity a nd e xchange values already h aunt t he Swoosh a nd t he
sneaker. ' Hauntology a lways a lready w ill h ave h aunted o ntology'
(146). D errida points o ut t hat y ou c annot tell the difference b etween u se
v alue a nd e xchange value. Derrida, in his resituation, says t hat Marx
c ould a llow capitalism to s peak a nd i nitiate dialogue w ith it. W hen w e see
labour as capital a nd c apital as labour! w e see t hat e ach h aunts t he other.
There are variations i n b oth a nd s hades of difference i n b etween. We can
not tell the one from the other. There is w hat D errida calls 'undecidability'.
Workers can s ubvert e stablished institutions of greed b y r e-accumulating
their skill, f orming t heir o wn alliances, a nd s haring t heir o wn profits.
W hat is r equired is to de-centre greed as the central e lement a nd t hereby
go b eyond t he b inary o pposite of capital a nd labour. T he r esituation takes
place w hen n either capital or l abour c an p urge t he ' other' f rom its o wn
d omain. As Braverman indicates each contains the other w ithin itself. In
a d uality of capital over labour, capital (and its surrogate, m anagement)
a ppears as !expert'! while l abour is v iewed a s !brainless' a nd e ventually
'skill-less'. 'He! sits atop the hierarchy! while 'she! sits submissively below.
"fo r esituate w ould b e to m ove b eyond h ierarchy in organizations The
so-called intelligent n etwork, a dhocracy, flexibility, de-differentiated
m odels o f organization aspire to this. There is a m ovement to democratize
the workplace! make w orkers k nowledgeable, as well as multi-skilled.
Labour w ould b ecome the expert. Those closest to the w ork w ould
e xpertly k now h ow to decide w hat to do. I nstead of capitalist/labourer!
each has multiple selves. Worker is b oth c apitalist a nd labourer.
W hat m y de constructive r eading of M arx d oes is m ove b eyond t he one
story of capitalism exploiting labour. We c an f ind marginal examples of
enterprise w here t here are variations! even reversals to the d ominant
story. T he g reed element can be acted u pon. T here are microstories inside
the m acrostory of capitalism t hat d econstruct t he g rand n arrative.
Appropriately, w e t um n ext to g rand n arrative analysis i n C hapter 2. Grand na In antenarrative analysis, it i.s i
t hat Lyotard calls t he ' Grand 1
'little stories! resist. Defining
e mploys ' meta narrative' derine
u sed to legitimate knowledl;['
defined as ' the h ero of knO\ 'leur
political e nd - universal pea E
n arrative' d efined a s ' a pos,";it-'
i nterchangeably ( 1979/1984:
s imply as 'incredulity t owan: :-:-"':
(1979/J.984: xxiv). I shall n ot d',·;~: .~ _
the space. The g rand n arratl':e i;; _ .
(1991: 192-3) a m etanarrative tha.. 0 _ _
courses. O ur t ask is to give vo :!>::.
Table 2.1 a nd i llustrate se\" r~!
L yotard's w ork is b oth a n insigh~'
p olemic a pproach to g rand n
g rand n arratives a re helpful). 1 w
a sserting that there are g rand al:~
ways, a nd t hat from a n a ntenarr ':'-', .
g rand n arratives emerge, self-d. _:-:---:
d ominant stories.
It is o nly m y t easing o ut , ,'
more local (antenarrative) s m : :- ': _.
b etween g rand a nd local n arr a . ::-'
a nd p osit t he d ynamics of t he a
IT m ean h ow o ne voice is pri\i.Il"~ . c
t hat are taken-for-granted or too:::'
interested i n h ow t he g rand n arr
h egemonic power. As w e ''''ill ex~
w ork (see C hapters 4 a nd 5), a 5- .~
i ng o ther stories. 1 see ,the 10 .
\'oices'! b ut a s e mbedded i n an:i ::'
Further, in o ur a nalyses w e c an _ =.
c onstitute a deconstruction of ;"".-=
t :' - Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research D avid M. Boje SAGE Publications L ondon. T housand O aks. N ew Delhi © D avid M. Boje 2001 First published 2001. R eprinted 2002.
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