Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The gods of management

Laura Dreuth Zeman suggested the following bit of summer reading in the theology of management.  The article sounds fascinating (though, being on vacation, I will own to not having read it myself).  Laura's summary follows, continued after the break, and the article is embedded at the end.

The article is titled “Archetypes of destruction: Notes on the impact of distorted management theory on education communities,” by Mark Chater of Bishop Grosseteste College in the UK. Bishop uniquely merges Jungian archetypal psychoanalytical theory with public education management theory. He describes conflicts in management, or mismanagement as he refers to it, in public education by drawing parallels to two mythic deities of mismanagement, Systemania, the god of “distorted change” creating public educational settings that are in “permanent and uncontrolled change,” and Permacrisis, the “god of employee destruction brought on by fear.” These parallels to SIUC and “archetypally unhealthy management,” may solicit a reaction that is a delicate blend of comic and tragic.

His assault on the mistaken belief in the need to change because change demonstrates change is represented by Systemania. This archetype causes public education employees to live “in a state of permanent change, and permanently increasing rates of change.” The impact on the employees is “driving individuals and organisations to distraction. The insecurity, bordering on panic, induced by uncontrollable and often meaningless change induces a sort of intellectual and emotional clinging to wreckage.” A very interesting observation about Systemania by Pattison was the belief of “systemanic” managers to change the discourse to provoke a change in the reality. In other words, if you use different language, labels or shift the conversation to another topic, the reality changes. This has an eerie familiarity to it.

Perhaps more bitter a comparison is the archetype represented by Permacrisis, a “cannibalistic deity” that “feeds on the flesh of employees.” Employees in Permacrisis systems carry out the cannibalism through self-sacrifice, often to protect their own jobs. Being overworked through workload increases and overtime (furlough days, perhaps?) are among the top ways employees are devoured by permacrisistic managers. How is it possible that this management style is maintained? Chater suggests it is by the employees themselves who are victims of the management and continue to participate or enforce the management style because they believe that if they continue to work the crisis will be avoided.

Managerial Divinities

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