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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Motivation by Mobilization? Engaging the Workforce in the Postmodern Corporation

Postmodern corporations' develop new ways to engage the workforce and to motivate employees at work. This motivation seems to be grounded in psychological and ideological mobilization rather than being based on a vocation created by meaningful work. We will be describing a variety of corporate motivation and mobilization strategies (we call them 'promises') crafted to assure employee commitment and engagement. With the help of a coaching case we then look at the downside of the promises analyzing the psychological consequences for individuals under the spell of the postmodern firm. Further on we will refer to some explanatory concepts of a research team around Max Pages to analyze and better understand the 'source code' of the postmodern firm. According to Pages et al. postmodern firms use psychology and ideology in a very particular way to manage employee engagement. Psychologically they function like a highly ambivalent 'machine of pleasure and anxiety; ideologically as a 'New Churches'.We want then test the assumption whether there is a new mentality in the making, whether we attend the emergence of a 'Corroding Cynical Character without Gravity'. If yes: does this new socialization type dispose of a specific 'psychic economy' matching the postmodern companies' need for superior flexibility and change readiness? We finally look for potential remedies and discuss to which extent individual coaching and collective learning settings can compensate and counterbalance the toxic effects created by the postmodern workplace.