Why do managers do what they do

And control what characterizes all these theoretical

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ordination (FoUett, 1941) or motivation! and control. What characterizes all these theoretical formulations is that whilst none are pure abstrac- tions, in that they have some experiential or research grounding, none have attempted to con- nect with, or explain, the general body of fevid- ence on managerial work. The same is equally true of theories which re- gard managerial tasks as shaped by the manager's function as an agent of capital, driven by th6 im- perative of capital accumulation, where manager- ial work is conceived quintessentially as direction and control of the labour process (Braverman, 1974; Burawoy, 1985; Marglin, 1974; Niqhols, 1980; Storey, 1983). Although subsequent 'post- Braverman' accounts (e.g. Knights and Willmott, 1986; Reed, 1990; Salaman, 1982; Storey, 1985) have suggested more heterogeneous trajectories of capital accumulation, more variegated and con- tested managerial strategies, and a looser coupling between the two, these accounts have geneirally been reluctant to move from the assertion 'that management, thus conceived, ramifies into par- ticular managerial practices to demonstrating thai it does through engagemeht with empirical evid- ence. Even Teulings' (1986) attempt to show jiow, as a labour process itself, management becomes
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340 C Hales differentiated into discrete, relatively auto- nomous managerial levels with their own 'logics of action' does not show how these logics of action ramify into concrete managerial practices. Willmott's concern to 'close the aporia between managers as personifications of the "functions of capital" and their lived experience as occupants of contradictory positions within the structure of capitalist work organizations' (Willmott, 1997, p. 1346) focuses more on evidence of managers' subjective interpretation of their role and status than on their concrete practices. A third, and burgeoning, theoretical strand has not so much sought to explain the evidence on managerial work as to question it ontologically and to ask whether it is evidence of objective, observable activities or, rather, socially and linguistically-constructed practices. Thus, man- aging is seen as the 'management of meaning' (Gowler and Legge, 1983), with managers de- ploying rhetoric to render contingent actions and outcomes acceptable (Fletcher, 1973; Silverman and Jones, 1976); manipulating symbols to con- struct and maintain a sense of organizational reality (Mangham, 1986; Pfeffer, 1981; Reed, 1989; Weick, 1979); engaging in histrionics to make the arbitrary seem rational (Macintyre, 1985); and constructing notions of the managerial job and the immutability of managerial control through everyday discourse (Golding, 1979,1980, 1986, 1996) or rhetoric which masquerades as 'plain speaking' (Gowler and Legge, 1983). This approach, however, has tended to mirror that of the researchers discussed above who offer specific idiographic accounts, by addressing particular, situationally-specific evidence, rather than ad- dressing the wider body of evidence in this way.
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