Contradictions of Management Theory, Organizational Cultures and the Self
This article is based on the Project 'Management of Human and Organizational Development' (MOHD). The main research focus of this project is on understanding learning at the level of the whole organization and identifying strategies for organizational development which give high priority to human resource management and quality assurance3• MOHD is a cooperative project funded by the European Union (1994-96) and involves six research centres in five European countries. These institutions are working within a network carrying out a series of interlinked small scale research projects in a range of organizations (mainly in the educational and health services). Specifically, MOHD is exploring the effectiveness of participatory action research as a strategy for creating 'learning organizations' (Peters and Waterman, 1982). The project assumes that power infiltrates all aspects of organizational structure and culture, through inter-personal, micro-political and formal-hierarchical relationships; that it acts negatively rather than positively when it becomes bi-polarized into patterns of coercion and resistance; and that these patterns are often the result of individuals lacking understanding of their own potential power and constructing for themselves (or acquiescing in) the role of the oppressed. Thus the central question for MOHD is whether involvement in participatory action research can enable individuals, regardless of their formal position in the hierarchy, to understand their own power and make a conscious contribution to organizational development.