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Authority and Autonomy

Paradoxes in Modern Knowledge Work

Authority and Autonomy by Susanne Ekman
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Authority and Autonomy invites you on an ethnographic journey into the heart of creative knowledge work. Based on detailed and vivid examples, it analyses the concept of work entertained by employees in these companies. It shows the existence of fairly contradictory ideals: classical bureaucratic and professional virtues, and ideals drawing on late modern values about self-realization, authenticity and limitless exploration. The same set of contradictory values is carried into the hierarchical dynamics, as managers and employees make unpredictable shifts in their expectations towards one another. Without signaling or even reflecting on the shifts, managers and employees jump back and forth between norms about authority, order-giving and hierarchy on the one hand, and autonomy, dialogue and self-direction on the other. These unpredictable shifts give rise to volatile conflicts, but also to intense mutual fantasies and passion. The author argues that this paradoxical environment in knowledge organizations has become more or less inevitable due to the high-velocity, growth-driven market. Furthermore, she highlights both the risks and gains associated with paradoxical environments and how it is important that we look at both.
Palgrave Macmillan; September 2012
262 pages; ISBN 9781137272881
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Title: Authority and Autonomy
Author: Susanne Ekman
 
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