فراتر از رها و در حال حرکت: دیدگاه های جدید درباره مرگ سازمانی، از دست دادن و سوگ و داغدیدگی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|37450||2011||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 27, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 1–10
Summary Understandings of organizational death, a term used to describe events including downsizing, site closure and business failure, are dominated by psychological stage models that promote letting go as a solution to collective loss. This approach neglects the empirical and conceptual shift which has transformed understandings of bereavement at the individual level through the theory of continuing bonds. This is the consequence of: (i) a managerialist focus on grief as a problem to be solved; (ii) a cultural orientation that constructs relationships between life and death, self and others, positive and negative emotions in dualistic terms and; (iii) an empirical emphasis on North American organizations. We conclude by suggesting how a continuing bonds perspective could enhance understandings of organizational death as a cultural phenomenon that is fundamental to the construction of meaning.
Introduction While the literature on organizational change is largely silent concerning issues of loss and grief, those studies that have addressed these dynamics suggest they can be understood as instances of organizational death (Blau, 2006, Blau, 2007, Blau, 2008, Harris and Sutton, 1986, Hazen, 2008, Marks and Mirvis, 2001, Marris, 1974, Sutton, 1983, Sutton, 1987 and Zell, 2003). However, conceptualization of organizational death is complicated by the fact that scholars have used it to refer to a wide range of organizational change events, including site closure, business or project failure, downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. Within this literature, the concept of organizational death is applied in ways that are both inductive, based on the lived experiences of organization members who account for events in these terms (Milligan, 2003, Sutton, 1983, Sutton, 1987 and Zell, 2003), and deductive, measuring organizational member responses to such events by developing and testing theoretical models of the grieving process (Blau, 2006, Blau, 2007 and Blau, 2008). While care must be taken in generalizing findings from studies of individual bereavement to organizational contexts, many of these scholars have argued that the reactions of loss and grief that such collective situations provoke are broadly similar to those associated with the death of an individual person. Theories of individual bereavement have thereby acquired the potential to inform understandings of loss and grief at the collective level. These scholars draw extensively on psychological stage models of grief which promote letting go and moving on as a solution to the loss, a way of managing and minimizing the intense emotions associated with grief. In this article we explore the limitations associated with this perspective which, we suggest, restricts the potential for management studies to appreciate the significance of organizational death as a cultural phenomenon that is fundamental to the construction of work-related meaning. We begin by reviewing scholarship relating to individual bereavement and loss and considering the popularity of psychological stage theories in informing a late twentieth century view of grief as an orderly sequence of stages through which the individual must pass in succession. Next, we trace the fundamental empirical and conceptual shift that has occurred within scholarship on individual bereavement and loss in the past decade through the notion of continuing bonds, which asserts that the living can maintain relationships with the dead at emotional, social and material levels, sometimes long after death has occurred. This challenges the former orthodoxy that bereaved people need to detach from relationships with the dead in order to regain independence. We then consider why this shift in perspective that has transformed understandings of individual loss and grief has not had more significant impact on organizational death research. After demonstrating the ongoing dominance of stage theories in analyses of organizational death, we identify three limitations which help to explain why the notion of continuing bonds has not been more widely incorporated into management research. Finally, we consider the potential for alternative perspectives on loss and grief as a means of opening up new pathways for research and practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Continuing organizational bonds During the past decade scholarship on dying and bereavement has undergone a fundamental empirical and conceptual transformation (Klass, Silverman, & Nickman, 1996). Stage theories of grief have been challenged by the theory of continuing bonds, which explores the complex and multiple ways in which the living maintain relationships with the deceased at emotional, social and material levels, through constructing lasting inner and symbolic representations, sensing the presence of the deceased, and behaving in ways that take their presence into account. These relationships are dynamic rather than static, evolving over time sometimes long after the death has occurred, and have been shown to have potentially positive effects on survivors. Continuing bonds theory challenges the orthodoxy that bereaved people need to detach from relationships with the dead to regain independence, and suggests that grief cannot be understood as an orderly sequence of temporal stages which the individual must pass through in succession (Wortman & Silver, 1989). It further introduces the idea that there may be no recovery from or resolution of loss and raises the possibility that grief and mourning need not be regarded as problems that need to be solved. Continuing bonds theory is supported by numerous empirical studies that suggest people can maintain bonds with the dead indefinitely, even while forming new social relationships (Walter, 1994). Yet while sociological understandings of loss and grief have moved away from a conception of ‘normal’ bereavement based on psychological detachment from the deceased over time, analyses of downsizing, site closure and organizational failure continue to draw extensively and uncritically on stage models of grief. A similar pattern has been observed in relation to other areas of management theory. For example, classic theories such as Maslow's (1943) hierarchy of needs continue to be applied by practitioners and taught by educators long after they have been questioned in their discipline of origin (Cullen, 1997), perhaps because they are comforting to managers, or easy for management educators and students to remember and reproduce (Watson, 1996). Continued reliance on stage models of loss and grief may result from lack of awareness of recent theoretical developments in bereavement scholarship. However, the prevalence of stage models in analyses of organizational death may also derive from certain basic underlying assumptions that can be indentified within existing research which we categorise as managerialist, cultural and empirical. Managerialist One of the reasons for the continuing dominance of stage theory stems from an underlying commitment to managerialist modes of analysis which assume that organizational death needs to be handled effectively so as to minimize its impact on organizational and employee performance. This encourages a functionalist approach to grief which assumes that it requires careful management, whether by organizing memorial events or providing the bereaved with information that helps them to disconnect from the dead and reconnect with the new (Cunningham, 1997, Harris and Sutton, 1986, Sutton, 1987 and Zell, 2003). Attempts to maintain bonds with dead organizations are therefore categorized as damaging to the individual (Marks and Mirvis, 2001 and Marris, 1974). Managerialist perspectives position the manager as a neutral, functional agent of the organization who is able to help employees to resolve their grief. This is encouraged by studies that rely predominantly on interviews with managers (e.g. Zell, 2003), who have an interest in controlling the grief reactions of bereaved employees in order to minimize their disruptive potential and potential cost to the organization (Charmaz and Milligan, 2008 and Hazen, 2008). In addition, analyses based on stage models are founded on individualistic principles, discouraging attribution of collective responsibility for the death of the organization and encouraging individuals to take responsibility for dealing with it. This helps to reduce the possibility of collective employee resistance by encouraging conformity to a model of normal behaviour based on working through and resolving grief. These ideas act prescriptively as a normative means of regulating organizational grief experiences. Analyses of individual grief suggest that cultural scripts are used to police the passionate emotions associated with loss through bereavement, which in many Western cultures are treated as non-routine and irrational (Small, 2001 and Walter, 1999). This helps to explain why stage theories of grief have gained such popularity, as they form part of a dominant psychological discourse that serves to discipline people into appropriate behaviours (Foote & Frank, 1999). Individuals are therefore encouraged to overcome their grief, using therapeutic techniques such as self-help, and to take responsibility for managing their loss in a way which renders them docile through inducing conformity to a model of ‘normal’ grieving behaviour (Rose, 1990). Studies conducted from a critical perspective (Alvesson & Willmott, 2003) could enable the study of organizational death to be strengthened by capturing the lived experience of loss at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. This would enable exploration of the power interests served by particular grief discourses. An example of how such research may be conducted is provided by Ainsworth and Hardy (2009), whose analysis of the effects of psychotherapeutic discourses of grief on the identity of older workers shows they are encouraged to deal with the loss of employment by moving through the ‘normal’ stages of grief. They note that this discourse encourages older workers to take individual responsibility for managing their emotional reactions to loss and to demonstrate acceptance rather than anger, thereby disempowering an already disadvantaged group. However, despite the efforts of managers to regulate and control reactions to bereavement, grief can remain an empowering resource that may be used to resist oppression and exploitation (Holst-Warhaft, 2000). By sustaining the pain of grief over time and translating it from an individual to a collective level, disadvantaged groups can use grief to further their own interests and challenge established organizational power relations. While the dominance of stage models of grief can be seen as the consequence of an orientation that favours managerial interests, employees are not passive objects of control. Further research is needed to understand how discursive demands to let go or move on may be resisted. But as scholars of individual death and bereavement have noted, we must also be wary of the potential for any model of grief to become prescriptive and regulatory (Small, 2001). Consequently there is a need for caution in constructing alternatives to stage models of grief. Instead we need to remain wary of grand explanatory models and open to the possibility of multiple, conflicting interpretations. Cultural A further limitation of organizational death research arises from the deeply embedded, often unexamined cultural beliefs and values about the relationship between life/death, self/others and positive/negative emotions that existing studies have tended to uncritically reproduce. The dominance of particular perspectives on grief and loss may arise from cultural beliefs and values, rather than because of ‘any substantial data relating to what people actually do’ (Small, 2001, p. 34). We suggest that dominant cultural attitudes towards individual bereavement provide the resources which are used to make sense of organizational events such as downsizing, site closure and business or project failure. The first of these cultural beliefs and values concerns understandings of the relationship between life and death in modern Western societies, where death has been located within a framework of control and separation and policed by professionals (Howarth, 2007 and Mellor and Schilling, 1993). This understanding of mortality seeks to abolish the dead from the world of the living through permanent removal to a place where they can have no influence (Walter, 1999). Life and death is thus constructed as a dualism, characterised by the creation of boundaries, with death understood as an absolute, irreversible end point (Adam, 1995). This encourages a predisposition towards stage models of grief, as a means of clearly separating the dead from the living. However, greater geographical and social mobility in late modern societies is suggested to have stimulated new ways of relating to the dead. This has given rise to the continuing bonds perspective in which life and death are conceptualized as aspects of a mutually constituting continuum; death is regarded as a different state of being rather than an end in itself (Howarth, 2007). Continuing bonds is founded on a set of beliefs that challenge the cultural separation between life and death through a refusal to accept the notion that death constitutes the end of existence. While death marks the boundaries of the human physical lifespan, when people die they are not gone because their identity leaves a record (Adam, 1995). This understanding of the relationship between life and death has considerable potential to affect how we understand contemporary temporalities. As Adam (1995) observes, understandings of mortality are central to how we experience the time of life. Continuing bonds theory challenges the chronological view of time as entropic and irreversible. The dead are no longer so clearly culturally separated from the living, causing conceptions of past and present to become more fluid. At a time when organizations are becoming less clearly identified with a particular time and place, and organizational change is suggested to be continuous rather than linear and episodic (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002), a continuing bonds perspective on the relationship between past and present is likely to be more meaningful to organizational members than the materialist, empiricist tradition of conceptualizing change on a before/after basis (Adam, 1995). Rather than positioning the past and its inhabitants as other, distinct and separate from the present, a continuing bonds perspective invites consideration of temporal unity and relatedness. The second basic cultural assumption that supports the preference for stage models relates to understandings of subjectivity and self that these models support and reinforce (Clewell, 2004 and Silverman and Klass, 1996). Charmaz and Milligan (2008) suggest cultural expectations of the grieving process in Western societies are conditioned by the Protestant ethic, which encourages stoicism, individualism and rationality. Anglo-Saxon cultures tend to promote a view of selfhood founded on autonomy and individuation as the basis for understanding the bonds between self and others. Within this, individual subjectivity is seen as self-centred rather than inter-subjectively constructed. This encourages an instrumental view of relationships as necessarily having a value to the individual; when a relationship no longer fulfils a valued function, it must be severed in order to ensure the individual's ongoing health and wellbeing. However, this psychologically-influenced perspective has been criticised for supporting a view of subjectivity founded on hegemonic masculinity which tends to pathologize stereotypically feminine grieving behaviours through promoting a masculine model of mental health that privileges independence and autonomy (Holst-Warhaft, 2000, Howarth, 2007 and Walter, 1996). It is significant that many foundational psychological studies of grief and loss are based on studies of women (Howarth, 2007), including those that focus on the collective level such as Marris (1974), who draws extensively on a study of widows whose husbands died at a relatively young age. These studies represent women's bereavement responses as more prone to psychological dysfunction through a failure to let go of the deceased. The third cultural assumption that encourages uncritical reproduction of stage models of grief concerns the definition of certain emotions as positive and others as negative. Fineman (2006) argues that by labelling certain emotions as positive and assuming they result in beneficial consequences for individuals and organization, and marginalising others as negative or as sources of disruption or destruction, a separation is created that is both theoretically and empirically problematic. Fineman (2006) cites research evidence to suggest that experiencing emotions that are commonly defined as negative is a fundamental aspect of identity formation and a source of personal and social development. Applications of stage theory in situations of organizational loss imply that the emotions associated with grief are physiologically and psychologically damaging to the individual. While it is acknowledged that negative emotions must be confronted as part of the grieving process, the aim is to accelerate the process whereby they can be dealt with so that a positive emotional state can be resumed. Fineman's analysis highlights the cultural specificity of this kind of evaluation, suggesting that the current preoccupation with positive emotions and emotional intelligence was formed in the context of North American culture where expressions of optimism are highly valued. Failure to display positive emotions is likely to be defined as abnormal within these cultural discourses. To summarize, these unexamined assumptions reflect deeply embedded cultural beliefs and values towards death, loss and grief and promote a continued reliance on stage models. Yet scholars in the field of bereavement studies observe that such perspectives are becoming less relevant as a means of understanding contemporary expressions of loss and grief (Walter, 1996). The study of organizational death could therefore be strengthened through more explicit examination of these cultural assumptions and greater critical evaluation of their role in influencing analysis. Empirical Finally, the continuing dominance of stage models of grief may also be a consequence of the relatively narrow empirical focus adopted by organizational death researchers. The majority of studies of organizational death, loss and grief have been conducted in North America and Western Europe. It is likely that organizational members, and potentially also researchers, are affected by the dominant values and beliefs concerning death, grief and loss that exist in these societies. We are not aware of published analyses of organizational death that focus on non-Western cultural contexts. However, several anthropological studies illustrate the cultural diversity of death and bereavement practices in a way which is directly related to organizations (Nakamaki, 1995, Ong, 1987 and Wolf, 1992). These researchers focus on memorialisation, including the rituals that organizational members employ to remember their dead. Whilst these studies focus on organizational responses to individual death, they highlight the diversity of collective loss and grief responses and provide clues as to the presence of continuing bonds in death-related organizational situations. Nakamaki's (1995) anthropological account of Japanese organizations describes how, when senior employees die, organizational members are closely involved in the funeral, through providing financial support or a focus for prayer. These organizations maintain monuments to high-status individuals such as company founders or former presidents, and collective tombs for other employees who die while in the service of the organization. Such corporate monuments are maintained at company expense, located at sacred public places separate from organizational premises, such as the Buddhist site of Mount Koya, which employees are encouraged to visit as a means of remembering the dead. Annual memorial services are held to remember deceased employees. The presence of the dead in the ongoing lives of organization members can also be seen in Ong's (1987) ethnographic analysis of female factory workers in Malaysia. Ong's account suggests that employees regularly felt the presence of ‘spirits on the shop floor’ who represented former workers and work activities. Similarly, Wolf's (1992) anthropological analysis of industrialization in Java suggests that workers in a newly built factory sensed the presence of deceased agricultural workers trying to find the land they once worked on. North American and European companies maintain continuing bonds with former leaders by displaying portraits of deceased founders and executives in corporate premises. Memorials to employees who have died as a result of war, terrorism or industrial accidents are also common. The UK/France Channel Tunnel and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge have memorials to those who died during construction; London's Waterloo Station has a memorial to railway workers who died in service of their country in the First World War, while Deutsche Bank erected a memorial on Wall Street to remember employees who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. These practices bear similarity to the Japanese cultural practice of ancestor worship (Klass, 1996), evoking the presence of the dead in a way which constitutes this as a feature of current organizational membership. Memorialising practices can also be generated by a variety of organizational stakeholders. The collapse of UK car manufacturer MG Rover in April 2005 prompted workers, on the Sunday following the announcement that the company would close, to travel in a convoy of over 300 vehicles to the gates of the Birmingham factory. Flowers were laid and a banner with the epitaph ‘Rest in Peace MG’ was hung across the gates. The closure of another UK factory owned by car manufacturer Jaguar in the company's birthplace and home town of Coventry precipitated similar memorializing practices amongst workers and members of the wider community (Bell, in press). A further example relates to the economic downturn in 2008 which prompted workers in the City of London to create a memorial with flowers and cards outside the Royal Exchange, with the epitaph ‘RIP, in loving memory of the boom economy’ (although there was more than a hint of irony in this gesture). These practices may be interpreted in relation to broader shifts concerning bereavement practices in Western societies that have resulted in the placing of flowers at the side of road traffic accidents or video technologies that allow the dead to leave messages to the living (Howarth, 2007). However, they also indicate that differences between bereavement patterns in Western cultures and countries like Japan may have been overstated, survivors in both contexts seeking to maintain long-term sentimental attachments to the deceased. The empirical limitations we have noted here, and the insights gained from other cultures and data collection methods, help to explain the ongoing dominance of stage theories in analyses of organizational death and loss. We suggest that researchers need to take greater account of intercultural and intracultural differences in the experience of organizational death, loss and grief. To conclude this article we summarise the opportunities that continuing bonds theory presents to management researchers through introducing alternative ways of understanding the grieving process.