Document Type

Journal Article


Normative change programs - that is, programs that attempt to effect organisational change through altering employees' beliefs, values, emotions and self-perceptions - have been heralded by some as the royal road to corporate 'excellence'. Academic literature on the phenomenon, however, tends to be much less upbeat, and is instead pervaded by a sense of unease. Critics claim that these programs invade employees' subjectivity, and erode their autonomy and capacity for critical thought. In this paper, I employ concepts from the work of G. H. Mead and Rom Harre to explore how different managers narrate different degrees and forms of engagement with a normative change program that was carried out in a steel plant in Australia in the 1990s. By considering how managers narrate different aspects of their selves (their private 'real' selves, their public personae) and the relationship between these aspects of self, we can explore the discursive and reflexive processes through which change is (or is not) effected. We can also consider sources of unease in greater depth by examining how notions of moral responsibility, autonomy and critical thinking are manifested in the reflexive processes through which managers position themselves with respect to organisational change programs.