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Excess and mimesis in organization theory: emancipation from within?

Atkin, Ian and Hassard, John and Wolfram Cox, Julie (2007) Excess and mimesis in organization theory: emancipation from within? Culture and organization, 13 (2). pp. 145-156. ISSN 1475-9551

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Abstract

In organizational analysis it can be argued that 'radical separatism'—in the guise of the original 'agenda' for Radical Organization Theory (see Benson, 1977a; Burrell and Morgan, 1979; Clegg and Dunkerley, 1980) or more recently that for Critical Management Studies (see Alvesson and Willmott, 1992; Fournier and Grey, 2000; Casey, 2002; Grey, 2004)—has failed to breach the hegemony of functionalist orthodoxy, and notably so when it comes to practice. Given this failure, we speculate, upon the potential for a different emancipatory approach, one based theoretically on the fluid process of 'undecidability'. Unusually our approach attempts to undermine the conventions of functionalist organization theory from within. In brief, we speculate upon the adoption and enactment of Luce Irigaray's (1985, 1991) strategy of mimicry as a means to illuminate the notion of 'excess' in organization theory. To liberate the feminine, Irigaray mimics the symbolic representation of the female body to excess so as to expose the contradictions of phallocentric discourse. When applied to organization theory, this sees a deliberate mimicking of critiques of radical separatism so as to make explicit the latter's imprisonment within functionalism. Through excessive mimicking of the functionalists' critique, the radical/critical organization theorist may become cognizant of, but perhaps not so subjugated by, the hegemony of functionalist discourse.

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