chapter  23
16 Pages

Resisting the power of organizational resistance

WithPeter Bloom

Resistance is a challenging concept for contemporary studies of organizations and politics. For mainstream scholars, it signifies a barrier to organizational success and change (Krietner, 1986; Plant, 1987; Dunphy and Stace, 1988). Critical scholars, by contrast, are largely unified in their opposition to such managerialist accounts yet remain divided as to how to properly theorize resistance at work. The decline of revolutionary Marxism as a dominant, though marginalized, politics and scholarly perspective (Burawoy, 1979; Edwards, 1979) has in particular left a void regarding what resistance is and how it should be put into practice within the workplace and beyond. Seeking to fill this void, recent literature has sought to replace the traditional binary opposition of power and resistance in favour of a more dynamic relation stressing their mutual constitution (see Mumby, 2005; Fleming and Spicer, 2007, 2008). Such research points to the stabilizing function of resistance for identity construction in organizations (Bloom, 2013b).These insights bring once again to the forefront questions of the ethical desirability and political effectiveness of resistance for transforming capitalism both at the level of the firm and more broadly society.