Posts Tagged ‘empowerement’

The history of policing is a series of retranslations of its objects and purposes.
One such retranslation stemmed from the adoption of a disciplinary discourse
in the movement to a bureaucratic organization in the mid-nineteenth
century. The purpose of policing was reframed to place emphasis on
adherence to rules, the cultivation of impersonal authority, and the develop- ment of technologies in the neutral delivery of service (cf. Walker, 1977).
Under occupational professionalization in the early twentieth century,
another retranslation was promoted. The crime-fighter was touted and
encouraged through the adoption of industry standards and professional ethics, self-regulation, and the continuation of highly stratified bureaucratic
structures. Recently, there has emerged a model which can be called new
managerial policing. 

New managerialism rests on a number of premises or assumptions. One of
these, which is sometimes the least obvious, is a privileging of the product producing
organization – assumptively a corporate and for-profit organization
– as the root unit of society. A related assumption of
a managerialist discourse is a de-emphasis of the state. As Enteman argues,
the ’social decisions’ produced by managements of corporate organizations are not oriented to the furtherance of a national ethos,
but are instead aimed at global markets, clients or consumers. Regulation, it
is the prevailing view in new managerialist literature, is best achieved in the
proactive (re)construction of the organization, and this requires not standardization,
rules and punishments in a (hopeful) representation of objective
and literal truth, but rather dialogue and engagement in a recognition of
dynamic processes and positive ’imaging’. New managerialism is given meaning through its putative evolution
out of bureaucratic organization. 

Various mechanisms give substance to this anti-bureaucratic ethos of new
managerialism. Drawing from Japanese corporate and organizational models
of the 1960s, and from the organizational systems work of the late 1960s and
early 1970s, management moves discipline and authority behind the lines and
diminishes their use as first-instance reasons for compliance. Instead, intermediary
devices are installed, implicating the worker in the managerial
agenda of the organization. These include peer review, organizational missions,
quality circles, team problem-solving, network-building and organizational
learning. In addition,
while bureaucracies are seen as punitive and past-possessed, new managerialism
is future (or loss prevention) focused.

New managerialism understands the corporate organization in terms of 

dynamic change or ’learning’, and individuals in terms of the tailored competency
profiling the organization needs. Key to the transformation of police
agencies according to a new managerialist ethic is the importance placed on
training, missions and competencies both at the organizational level and at
the level of the individual.
In this way, the discourse of new managerialism is consistent with neo-liberal
strategies of governance and is pushed ahead by them. Neo-liberalism ’reactivates
choice’ as the ’fundamental human faculty’. It is
through this ironic re-articulation of choice that the individual is seen as an
enterprise, an enterprise, moreover, who presumptively cares for her own self. Enterprising individuals are putatively free to
negotiate working conditions and continuously to adapt their competencies to changing demands in quickly saturated markets (Harvey, 1989). Work is
redefined as the translation of innate and learned competencies and skills into
value as enterprise. So fully is the individual responsibilized that leading edge
organizations develop rigorous training programmes which continuously test the worker’s ability to manifest pro-organizational values. During such
training workers ’freely choose’, as du Gay puts it, to partake in a ’reflexive
self-monitoring’ on their progress.

Neo-liberalism and new managerialism are thus close bedfellows in promoting
a compelling version of subjectivity. In these emphases new managerialism
takes a post-structuralist view to the continual (flexible) reproduction
of, not individual agents and social institutions, but corporate organizations
themselves. As Morgan puts it, ’images and ideas people hold of themselves
and their world have a fundamental impact on how their realities unfold’. Breaking from the public power/private enterprise distinction
of nineteenth-century liberalism, new managerialism, in language
and in emphasis, rejuvenates the power of ideas and creativity in the social
construction of reality. Neo-liberalism, appositely, understands personal choice not as opposed to, but of a piece with, corporate power. Neo-liberal
empowerment also sees the individual not as made up by others or as depen- dent on social-structural conditions, but as freely adapting to market transitions, a free adaptation favourably termed ’lifelong

But although appearing to promote individuality and creativity and the
unfettered enterprising visionary, new managerialism is a discourse directed
not at the articulation of the individual in society but at the organization in
the free market. While individuals and essences are not the foundation of
society, individuals can nevertheless be discursively made up in the service
of organizational ends. New managerialism likewise aligns all the virtues of
autonomy and enterprise with the character of the mission-driven ’learning
organization’. Against a neo-liberal backdrop, new managerialism offers an
antidote to the problem of the spirited ’individualist’ straining against an
external authority. Spirit, initiative, enterprise and charisma are recast as
qualities belonging not to the individual standing opposed to organizations
and their collective thinking, but rather as virtues which individuals acting within organizations may partake of. Today, one is most likely to encounter
words like ’iconoclast’ or ’rebel’ in the marketing or promotion of organizationally aligned individuality. Individual expression comes to be understood,
with empowerment politics, as the self’s maximization of corporate privilege.

 Indeed… we can better appreciate subjectivity under new managerialism by viewing it in contradistinction
to its cultivation under the bureaucratic organization. The manager in the
bureaucratic organization was ideally impersonal, objective, dispassionate, detached and knowledgeable: an expert. He was insulated by rules and by rank in a vertical hierarchy, and through clear delineations of diminishing authority which passed down through the ranks of the vertical pillar. In turn,
the worker in the bureaucratic organization was separated in his work and
life, bifurcated into reason and emotion and between pleasure and duty, and
knew very clearly the limits of his authority, knowledge and competence. 

An outcome of bureaucracy’s ’foundational exclusions’ and ’constitutive
splits’ was a worker who was said to lack initiative and was also ontologically
(as opposed to presentationally) under-identified with the public missions of
the organization. A rule-driven shaping of subjectivities rewards rote
adherence to procedure while punishing creative enterprise. Skolnick identified this dilemma as a key organizational problem of policing. A further
consequence (with further relevance in policing) has reputedly been a subjectivity
characterized in a split between a public self of impersonal proceduralism
and austerity and a private self of abuses and secret excesses
(where initiative finds expression).
Liberal oppositions have helped to shape subjects as neutral agents through the application of bureaucratic rules and in the distinction between public and
private expression. But in being so shaped, individual enterprise has been
understood as the cost, expression being associated with favouritism, abuse
of office and corruption. 

New managerialism has offered a new image of subjectivity, one which
is conceptualized in opposition to the rational separations and forced objectivity and neutrality of liberal oppositions and bureaucracy. The executive
in the new learning organization is characterized by risk-taking, entrepreneurship,
involvement and a ’calculatingly charismatic’ personality. Rather than being seen as a commander, he is seen explicitly as
a people- and organization-shaper: s/he shapes ’the conduct and self-image of employees … encouraging them to acquire capacities and dispositions that will enable them to become enterprising persons’.
In contrast to the foundational exclusions and subjectivity splitting of the
bureaucratic worker, the worker in a new managerialist organization is
made whole again through work-based participatory technologies such as
work teams, continuous learning and peer review procedures. S/he is made
up to be ’empowered’ and personally interested.
S/he is to find ‘pleasure in work’ rather than pleasure through work. Finally, s/he is to be made responsible or responsibilized to care for the self and take pleasure by making herself a project or enterprise.

– Willem de Lint, “New Managerialism and Canadian Police Training Reform,” 

Social & Legal Studies.

Volume: 7 issue: 2, 1998. pp. 263-266

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