Critically evaluate Hugh Willmotts (1993: 526) claim that corporate culturism endeavours to secure control by managing the impression of respecting the distinctiveness and individuality of each employee. In your essay, include insights drawn from this
The coursework question is asking you to write an essay that looks at a claim by Hugh Willmott in his 1993 paper, namely this:
corporate culturism endeavours to secure control by managing the impression of respecting the distinctiveness and individuality of each employee
In order to approach this question, you should read the article carefully to see what he argues, and think how this relates to the themes we have covered in the module so far. These themes have all been related to the different psychological assumptions that management practices can be based on. We have looked at two main sets of assumptions, the humanist view of the mind and the mechanistic/behaviourist view of the mind. Lecture 1 discussed the former, lecture 2 looked at the historical context of the latter and lecture 3 discussed the theoretical basis for the latter. When reading the article, consider how these themes are of relevance to what Willmott is saying.
The questions asks you to critically evaluate Willmotts statement. The statement addresses how the management of corporate culture relates to the individuals in the workplace, how it addresses them.
As part of your critical evaluation you should:
Convey Willmotts general argument in the paper
Examine what assumptions are being made in terms of management
psychology (which is what the module is on, of course)
Express your own views on Willmotts argument, and support these with the
appropriate academic sources and evidence.
Hugh Willmotts main argument
Willmotts article is a critical indictment of those management writers and managers who propose the management of organisational culture as a way of raising productivity. He calls such management corporate culturism, and he sees it as a disingenuous way of giving employees more autonomy and freedom in the workplace. While such management of corporate culture pretends to create a more open and democratic workplace, Willmott argues it is actually fully aimed at reshaping the thoughts and feelings of employees to be in line with corporate aims. Make sure that you convey in your essay how and why Willmott makes these points, and what the implications are.
Assumptions in terms of management psychology
As I mentioned above, this relates to lectures 1 to 3 (though further lectures will also address this). The section in Willmotts article that deals very directly with the psychology that underpins corporate culture management can be found on pages 523- 526. Now, this is what Willmott argues underpins such management theory and
practice. This is what he argues is the psychological basis of such management, what the managers who use such approaches assume in terms of the human mind.
There is also the question of what Willmott himself assumes about the mind of the individual. Can you work that out? And if so, where and how does he give indications of this in the text? Is there a difference in terms of his psychological notion of the individual as opposed to that within corporate culturism? Or are is objections mainly about the ethics of corporate culturism?
Your own argument
A critical evaluation implies that you critique Willmotts argument. This means that you have to form an opinion of what he is saying, by examining the evidence he brings to the table and drawing on evidence of your own (i.e. academic sources) to support your own position. There are many different options here, and it really comes down to what your line of thinking is.
Some lines of argument could include:
The viability of culture management in organisations. Is it usually successful?
The ethics of culture management. Is it acceptable to management peoples
hearts and minds in the workplace?
The psychological argument. What makes people tick and how does that affect
our view of the management of culture?
But many other ways of engaging with his views are possible. These are merely the most obvious ones in terms of the assignment. It is important that you link your own argument back to your assessment of the psychological underpinnings that you analysed earlier.
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