As Featured Today in the Wall Street Journal’s Health Section: Transcending Socialization

Alexandra Michel, University of Southern California, published “Transcending Socialization: A Nine-Year Ethnography of the Body’s Role in Organizational Control and Knowledge Workers’ Transformation” on January 30th, 2012 in Administrative Science Quarterly. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

To view The Wall Street Journal article, “Hazard of the Trade: Bankers’ Health,” please click here.

The abstract:

A nine-year ethnography is used to show how two investment banks’ controls, including socialization, targeted bankers’ bodies, how the bankers’ relations to their bodies evolved, and what the organizational consequences were. The banks’ espoused and therefore visible values emphasized autonomy and worklife balance; their less visible embodied controls caused habitual overwork that bankers experienced as self-chosen. This paradoxical control caused conflict between bankers and their bodies, which bankers treated as unproblematic objects. The conflict generated dialectic change that cognitive control theories overlook because they neglect the body. Cognitive control theories predict outcomes only in bankers’ first three years, when the banks benefited from bankers’ hard work. Starting in year four, body breakdowns thwarted organizational control. Despite bankers’ increased attempts to control their bodies, performance declined. Starting in year six, intensified breakdowns forced some bankers to treat their bodies as knowledgeable subjects. Because the body cannot be socialized completely, it helped numerous bankers transcend the banks’ socialization and modify their behaviors. Surprisingly, the banks benefited from this loss of control because the bankers’ ethics, judgment, and creativity increased.

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This entry was posted in Organizational Studies and tagged , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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