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Preparing to work: dramaturgy, cynicism and normative ‘remote’ control in the socialization of graduate recruits in management consulting

Poulter, David and Land, Christopher (2008) 'Preparing to work: dramaturgy, cynicism and normative ‘remote’ control in the socialization of graduate recruits in management consulting.' Culture and Organization, 14 (1). pp. 65-78. ISSN 1475-9551


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online) This paper examines the socialization of graduate recruits into a knowledge intensive labour process and organizational culture. Theoretically the paper draws upon the idea of ‘preparing for work’ to position this early socialization as a crucial moment in the production of subjectivities suited (and booted) for the labour process of management consulting. Empirically the paper reports on a two-day induction session for new graduate recruits joining a global management consultancy and their responses to this training. Particular attention is given to the use of role-play and a dramaturgical workshop used in part of the training process. The paper argues that the utilization of dramaturgy in training is consistent with the overall approach to control developed in the firm in response to the fact that the labour process of consulting is often conducted on client sites, away from any direct supervisory gaze. As such, the consultants were subjected to a form of cultural control that was designed to function independently of direct supervision. This control did not operate directly upon the new employees professed values, however, but at one step removed so that a ‘cynical distance’ from the content of the organization’s culture was accepted so long as a professional ‘ethic of behaviour’ was established. By focusing on an ‘ethic of behaviour’ these young professionals were encouraged to internalize a self-control akin to that of an actor, rather than internalizing the corporate values entirely.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Christopher Land
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2011 15:19
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2011 15:19

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