Melanie Bryant (2003) 'Persistence and Silence: A Narrative Analysis of Employee Responses to Organisational Change'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 8, no. 4, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/8/4/bryant.html>
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Received: 6/6/2003 Accepted: 27/11/2003 Published: 28/11/2003
Primarily the function of ideologies of management is to explain to the subordinates why it is necessary and appropriate for he, or she, to be placed in a position of subordination...[Management] ideologies, therefore, serve to disguise or to defend authority and, in doing so, they operate to promote habits...conducive to the particular forms of ownership and management which they reflect (Collins, 1998, p.24).
Apprehendable in the form of multiple, intangible, mental constructions, socially and experientially based, local and specific in nature...and dependable for their form and content on the individual persons or groups holding the constructions (p. 206).
...Absolutely horrendous [but]...rather than sitting on my backside I wanted to do something...so I joined the union. I'd never been part of a union. Never in my whole life until I was thirty-nine years old...when someone said, "you could actually do this and speak out for [us]"...So I became a job rep and started representing [staff] because I had something to say...and I was scared for [our industry] and frightened of the changes that were occurring [P16].
I'm a very motivated person but...I didn't really [want to be] a union rep[resentative] at the time but I didn't think I could trust anyone else to do it. Not with five or six hundred people's careers there...it was my decision because I didn't morally feel like I could leave them to fend for themselves [P17].
I was fairly concerned at the time...but I was still getting paid and there was no guarantee that [the organisation] wasn't going to shut down...so you just didn't know and it was virtually "well in the meantime I'll keep working and we'll keep going" [P5].
I felt that there was...threat there...and I guess that was one of the things that probably helped to motivate me [to keep working] because I felt that as long as I am doing things that minimises the threat...I'll be okay. If I sit back and take the hard line I felt that the threat got bigger...I guess I was lucky I could cope that way. Some people didn't or couldn't [P7].
Closer attention to the stories...to aid listening to the stories...[which] is difficult because [organisational change]...stories mix and weave different narrative threads. The rationale for proposing some general types of narratives is to sort out those threads...[rather than to provide a grand narrative or] general unifying view (Frank, 1995, p. 76).
Managers and their selective group of staff would pick on me all the time...I was alienated from my job...they would change operations and not tell me and then ridicule me for making a mistake...I was shut out of meetings that I was supposed to play a role in...and I was abused and called every name under the sun...why? Because I dared to challenge and stand up for myself and some of the other [staff] [P16].
Because we were loud and in many ways in a leadership type role...they probably thought that if they can cut us down and get rid of us then they could do whatever they liked and treat workers however they liked...because to be honest most of the staff were either too scared or too stupid to stand up against anything that threatened their future or their jobs...That was my role...so automatically I was seen as the instigator of all trouble [P18].
Every step of the way [I was] ignored or denied opportunities...I was also subjected to quite a significant amount of bullying...to the extent that on one evening I was working towards the end of my allocated time...[and] for an hour and three quarters was barred from exiting my door and was stood over by the executive director and told in words of one syllable or less that it would be much better if I left [P20].
I was taken out of...where I worked and put in this shed with some other blokes that was probably six paces long by about twelve or so wide...and we had no work. We had to sit in that shed with no work...they just left us there and ignored us...but we were subjected to bullying and aggression and being laughed at because we has no power over our situation...I stayed in that shed like that for three years...until I could get another job somewhere else [P9].
My manager told me quite rudely that I was out of line and causing problems by asking what impact change would have on my job...she suggested that my behaviour was inappropriate and that I was a poor example for other staff who were acting according to the...organisation's standards. I was also told that this sort of behaviour...would cause other people to start acting up...which would, how did she put it...reduce the harmony of the workplace. What a crock of shit...all I was doing was asking a simple question...not planning the next bloody nurses' strike for Christ's sake [P17].
Before change I was just a basic shit kicker and now I have got this great job where I'm in change of my unit's work and...in charge of a number of employees. I worked hard when change came in and even though I didn't like it...I kept quiet and tried to do the best I could...now I feel that I am doing so well because managers have seen that I can perform under pressure...which all people clearly cannot do [P14].
[Change has] given me more opportunity. Had we stayed at the old [organisation]...I still would have been on the floor and would have been bored doing shift work so it's certainly broadened my horizons and the opportunity. I think personally I'm more motivated...I can see that what I do has a result. Um because we've changed so much that if I put in the extra effort I'll get the reward and I'm certainly more motivated in that way...It's been a dramatic difference in my life [P1].
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