Russell, Stephanie (2011) Enterprise unleashed? Exercising power through isomorphism in the passive fire protection industry. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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This thesis focuses on the passive fire protection industry which is a sector of construction that has previously been neglected by researchers. I use insights from ethnographic research to present the challenges and daily struggles individuals experience as they contend with working in a deregulated environment. My analysis contributes to the scholarship on Institutional Theory (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983), which has been traditionally used to discuss how organizations become homogenised (similar) through isomorphic pressures (coercive, normative, mimetic) as they seek to enhance their legitimacy and reduce uncertainty. In contrast to previous accounts of Institutional Theory which have ignored a critical understanding of power, I draw on Foucault (1977) to argue that isomorphic pressures exercise disciplinary power by spreading an 'enterprise discourse' (du Gay and Salaman, 1992). Enterprise endeavours to reinvent employees as autonomous, responsible and self-regulating subjects.

Although the enterprise discourse encourages self-regulation, in the passive fire industry, it became a counter-discourse as individuals call for more government regulation. In a 'lighter touch' environment (UKAS, 2004: 1), the principles of enterprise (choice, autonomy) were both endorsed and turned back on to the government as employees used it to engage in non-conformance. Consideration of these issues enables a contribution to be made by highlighting the limitations of conventional accounts of Institutional Theory. I suggest that gaps in scholarship can be filled by critically examining the role of isomorphic pressures in homogenising and normalising conduct; this also points to the impact such regimes can have on an industry whose main objective is to enhance life and building safety.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Contributors: McCabe, D (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2017 11:49
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2022 14:59

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