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‘Down with Big Brother!’ The End of ‘Corporate Culturalism’?

Fleming, P. (2013). ‘Down with Big Brother!’ The End of ‘Corporate Culturalism’?. Journal of Management Studies, 50(3), pp. 474-495. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2012.01056.x


Hugh Willmott's classic 1993 JMS article, ‘Strength is Ignorance; Freedom is Slavery’, has greatly influenced how we understand culture management. It draws parallel's with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to reveal the totalitarian aspirations of ‘corporate culturalism’. While it is sometimes said that employee resistance is missing in Willmott's account, I argue that it is implicitly pervasive, prefiguring subsequent investigations of ‘micro-emancipation’ in management studies. The recent waning of scholarly interest in this type of resistance, however, also points to the contemporary relevance of Willmott's analysis. Emergent forms of corporate regulation utilize ‘biopower’ rather than just cultural conformity, rendering micro-emancipation inadequate, but inspiring other types of dissent.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fleming, P. (2013), ‘Down with Big Brother!’ The End of ‘Corporate Culturalism’?. Journal of Management Studies, 50: 474–495., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Publisher Keywords: Biopower, Instrumental Rationality, Organizational Culture, Resistance, Values
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Business School > Management
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 14:51
Text - Accepted Version
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