Managing Uncertainty and Subjectivity

  • Ajit Nayak

Abstract

The idea that organisations are facing uncertainty is not a new one. Three themes dominate the discussion in the current literature on organisations — environmental, structural and managerial uncertainty. First, the demise of a stable business environment due to globalisation and technological advances has signalled the uncertain competitive landscape facing organisations. Second, the demise of bureaucracy and hierarchy has signalled the rise of uncertainty in terms of organisation structure. Third, the loss of certainties in terms of knowledge has signalled the rise of uncertainty in terms of managerial decision-making. These themes have been articulated in the organisational literature since the 1960s (see Burns and Stalker, 1961). However, there has been an increasing emphasis in recent years on the implications of uncertainty for the subjectivity of organisational participants. Environmental, structural and managerial uncertainties are discussed not only in terms of their impact on organisations, but also in terms of the identity of organisational participants. These discussions suggest that organisational participants are engaged in ‘managing’ the uncertainty in terms of their subjectivity and identity (Grey, 1994; Townley, 1995; du Gay, 1996). While questions concerning work-based identities are not new, the current discussions argue that organisational participants have become ‘enterprising managers’ of themselves and their work lives.

Keywords

Income Expense Arena Nash Sonal 

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© Ajit Nayak 2005

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  • Ajit Nayak

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