Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand the persistent ambiguity of socialization practices in US and Swedish organizations, which promote a mature work identity while infantilizing their employees. Design/methodology/approach – Application of the insights from modernist authors' analysis of modernity as experienced by a human subject within professional organizations (Gombrowicz and Musil) and as responsible for proliferation of layers of reality (Eco), to contemporary practices of socialization. Findings – The conflict between the need to conform to the corporate culture and the temptation to subvert them for creative or destructive purposes results in production of a “person without qualities,” and in the rise of the contemporary form of hyperreal infantocracy, which requires sophisticated irony in order to deal with organizational practices. Research limitations/implications – Paying more attention to literary analysts of contemporary condition such as Gombrowicz, Musil, Eco, and Kundera will allow to understand paradoxes of contemporary organizing beyond the limits of traditional social sciences. Practical implications – Combating apathy and disillusion among both employees and human resource management practitioners requires a reconceptualization of the programs of organizational socialization in terms of a sustainable and responsible corporate citizenship. Originality/value – Few authors have managed to mine the humanist heritage in order to salvage insights, which might have practical implications for a more balanced, sustainable, and humane organizational reality.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 6, 2010
Keywords: Socialization; Organizational culture; Employee behaviour; United States of America; Sweden
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