Speaking Truth to Power? Anti-Bureaucratic Romanticism from Critical Organizational Theorizing to The White House

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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 towards bureaucracy and the state. In this paper, we explore the components of this vocabulary as well as the role they play in both populist- and critical organizational theory-variants. In so doing, 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
Publication date2019
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event35th EGOS Colloquium 2019: Enlightening the Future: The Challenge for Organizations - University of Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20196 Jul 2019
Conference number: 35


Conference35th EGOS Colloquium 2019
LocationUniversity of Edinburgh Business School
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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

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