Speaking Truth to Power? Anti-bureaucratic Romanticism from Critical Organizational Theorizing to the White House

Thomas Lopdrup-Hjorth*, Paul du Gay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

303 Downloads (Pure)


In spite of their distinctive normative and political differences, critical organizational scholars use a vocabulary which in several respects resembles that adopted by right-wing populists. This vocabulary, we argue, consists of components that can be deployed in the pursuit of radically conflicting goals. At its heart lies a profoundly antithetical stance toward bureaucracy and the state. In this article, we explore the components of this vocabulary as well as the role they play in both populist- and critical organizational theory-variants. In doing so, we further discuss the lack of critical potential this vocabulary has in the present. For critical organization scholars, we argue, this should perhaps lead to a renewed consideration and reflexivity concerning not only the merits of bureaucracy and the state, but also of how to conduct critique in populist times.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)441-453
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: March 11, 2019.


  • Anti-bureaucracy
  • Bureaucracy
  • CMS
  • Critique
  • Organization theory
  • Populism
  • Trump

Cite this