“I Used to Care but Things Have Changed”: A Genealogy of Compassion in Organizational Theory

Ace V. Simpson, Stewart Clegg, Tyrone Pitsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We explore the use of compassion as a technology of power and subjectivity within organizations. Using a genealogical method, we trace the history of concern with compassion in organizations as a mode of employee discipline. The article applies a perspective developed from Foucault, focused on power/knowledge relations and the role that they play in the formation of the subject in organizations. Organizational compassion has been constantly re-defined and re-evaluated according to changing organizational objectives for shaping employee subjectivity. While one may think of compassion as a “good” phenomenon, we counsel caution against doing so in all contexts as a generic endorsement of a “positive” agenda. As we show, compassion may be a mode of power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-359
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Keywords

  • ethics
  • management history
  • organization theory
  • positive organizational scholarship
  • power and politics

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