The virus of management: A viral perspective on bureaucracy and scientific management

Peter Kjær, Christian Frankel

Publikation: Working paperForskning


The virus metaphor may be used in studies of management knowledge not only as a way ofdescribing diffusion processes but also as a way of thinking about viral elements of knowledgeproduction. In the present article, organizational viruses are viewed as ensembles of basicdistinctions that are constitutive of concrete bodies of knowledge and which form mutable enginesof organizational self-descriptions. Organizational viruses, we contend, are both characterized bystability in terms of their basic productive configuration, while at the same time allowing for a highdegree of variation in terms of concrete management knowledge and practice. The article isstructured as follows. After the introduction, we first develop the notion of organizational virus asinto an analytical approach. Second, we discern in the work of Frederick Taylor on scientificmanagement and Max Weber on bureaucracy, two quite distinct viral configurations that we claimhave infected most modern management knowledge - both on a discursive level and on the level ofconcrete organizational self-descriptions and practice. Third, we discuss our findings and raise thequestion of how viruses `work', how they interact, and why they become infectious.
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - 2003
Udgivet eksterntJa

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