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Constructing and Disciplining the Working Body: Organisational Discourses, Globalisation and the Mobile Worker

Crowley-Henry, Marian and Donnelly, Paul (2011) Constructing and Disciplining the Working Body: Organisational Discourses, Globalisation and the Mobile Worker. In: From Critique to Action: the Practical Ethics of the Organisational World. Liverpool Hope University studies in ethics series (5). Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 152-181. ISBN 9781443828390

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Abstract

Implicit in the metaphor of human resources is that the human is equated with, or placed on a similar level to, material resources, such that the working body is experienced in similar ways to financial, technical or natural resources. Such implicit meaning raises not only the value issue of equating people with material resources, but also points to the construction of very specific realities in work organisations that result from the use of such a metaphor (Dachler and Enderle 1989). In many respects, we live in a world where “paid work” is what is valued over virtually everything else. As noted by the New Economics Foundation (2010), people are working longer hours today than they were 30 years ago, very much at the expense of the unpaid, private and informal aspects of our lives. Even with all the legislation that has progressively limited the paid working week, notably in the West, "paid work remains firmly at the centre of people’s lives"; however, "[t]here is nothing fixed or inevitable about the way we regard work … today. It is a legacy of industrial capitalism" (New Economics Foundation 2010: 13). All of the above crosses over with the ongoing debate between relativism and absolutism, that is, whether there is a plurality of ethical standards that should be respected, each for its own sake, or whether there is one absolute ethical standard, what that should be and who gets to decide what that should be (Donaldson 1996). Notwithstanding this debate, Donaldson (1996) posits that there is an internationally accepted list of moral principles that draws on many cultural and religious traditions, namely the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, from the perspective of Western ethics, equating people with material resources, to be consumed in the process of production, is to treat people simply as means to an end, contravening Kant’s categorical imperative to treat people as ends in themselves (Chryssides and Kaler 1993: 99). With this as our point of departure, we argue that organisational discourses have fundamentally influenced the construction and disciplining of the working body and its position in society. In sharing findings from a qualitative study, involving over forty interviews with self initiated international assignees located in the South of France and in Munich (Germany) (Crowley-Henry 2007, 2009; Crowley-Henry and Weir 2007, 2009), the chapter goes on to explore and illustrate how interviewees construct themselves, and are constructed, as international working bodies. Finally, in alluding to ethics, we ponder whether organisational discourses treat people as means to ends.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Preprint version of published chapter.
Keywords: Organisational Discourses; Globalisation; Mobile Worker; human resources; Business ethics; Management - moral and ethical aspects; social responsibility of business;
Subjects: Social Sciences > School of Business, Design & Innovation, Management
Item ID: 3772
Depositing User: Dr. Marian Crowley-Henry
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2012 15:49
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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