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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Posibilidades y Limites de la Confianza en la Relacion Consultor - Cliente en el Chile de Hoy. Analisis de la Experiencia de Consultores Chilenos

Critical management studies state that during the last 30 years a managerial agenda aimed to develop employees' commitment with the organisation, as a strategic factor for companies' success (Alvesson and Willmott, 2002; Landen, 2003). This agenda includes a 'persistent set of vocabularies and practices in which the self and subjectivity have become central motifs in the lexicon of management.' (Costea, Crump and Amiridis, 2009) Following Alvesson and Willmott, this managerial approach can be understood from companies need of gaining compromise from the 'employees' insides - their self-image', considering the employee 'as identity worker who is enjoined to incorporate the new managerial discourses into narratives of self-identity.' (2002: 622) On the other hand, it is a recognized fact that traditional schemes of employment systems have changed during the last decades. As a general tendency, short-term or project-based employment has increasingly replaced lifetime jobs, in all kind of work organisations and occupational groups. In other words, employers have established a new deal, which is an open-ended agreement that requires permanent negotiation with the employee. Even more, this logic privileges individual rather than collective negotiation of employment conditions, as well as it takes the state of labour market as its key regulatory principle. (Cappelli, 2000; Tolbert, 1996; Corbett, 1994)Then, this 'market based deal' seems to give the message to the subject that he has the request of improving or shaping his self in order to be employable. The implicit message would be as follows: 'your job and career development are unstable, you live in a risky and ever changing world; if you want to remain attractive both for your current organisation and the market, you have to discover what they need / want from you; you have to remain desirable; you have to be profitable.' In this context, it seems to be a sort of reification of the labour market, as an 'abstract agency' that has its own preferences as well as makes decisions affecting the worker's destiny. Since labour relations seems to be shaped by the 'soft capitalism' or 'new management' practices, as well as 'the market based deal', we explore the role and meaning that trust would acquires in contemporary organizations. In fact it is suggested here that, since labour market emerges as an immanent entity as well as the key referent for employees career path and decisions, it arises as the final source of truth. Therefore, we consider a new possible meaning of trust taking on account what Sievers (2003) suggests in order to consider the 'ancient' notion of this word, which includes 'faith', 'true' and 'fidelity' [...] Considering this, this work explores the managerial discourse and practices on Chilean retail industry and its possible effects regarding the unconscious tie between the employee, the organization and labour market. More specifically, through a set of interviews with Human Resource Management practitioners in a large retail Chilean holding, we assess their possible role as 'preachers' of the labour market 'God' speech.