Romanticizing the Market: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Pedagogy of Post-Bureaucratic Management

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This paper shows how Hobbes’ and Rousseau's contrasting mythologies of social organization translate into two fundamentally different conceptions of management. Hobbes offers the myth of the uncivilized human in the dystopian state of nature who needs governance in order to counter his or her own self-destructive tendencies. This myth informs the classic management theories of Taylor and Mayo. Rousseau proposes a counter-myth that envisions the noble savage in the utopian state of nature, who becomes morally corrupted by being socialized into the institutions of modern society. This myth is echoed in post-bureaucratic management literature. Comparing Rousseau's romanticization of nature with what I call the romanticization of markets, I show how the post-bureaucratic management literature employs the logic of market rationalism to generate a managerial pedagogy that installs the market as the control mechanism for regulating the internal relations of the organization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)88-105
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Market rationalism
  • Post-bureaucracy
  • Mythology
  • Rousseau
  • Hobbes

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