Normalized Intensity: The New Labour Process of Middle Management
University of Manchester - Manchester Business School
Cardiff University - Cardiff Business School
Manchester School of Management
Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 45, Issue 2, pp. 343-371, March 2008
Based on qualitative interviews (n=64) within five UK organizations that have embarked on large-scale restructuring (including delayering, downsizing, culture change, role redesign, lean production) we argue that middle managers are currently experiencing significant and progressive work and personal pressures. Performance is monitored more closely, hours and intensity of work are increasing, roles and tasks are changing frequently, and prospects for promotion are downscaled within flattened hierarchies. Whereas middle managers report increased levels of autonomy and skill, are often well remunerated, and frequently appear motivated (at least in the private sector), we suggest their burgeoning grievances over working hours, role pressures and promotion prospects have worrying implications for the future performance of UK industry. We argue further that the motivation for corporations to embark on such large-scale restructuring is best understood with reference to the incessant demands of international capitalism. We conclude that such restructuring, and the personal managerial experiences that result from it, is in keeping with many, but crucially not all, of the trends predicted by Bravermanian labour process theory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 14, 2008
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