The concept of technology developed by Michel Foucault occupies an ambiguous position in contemporary organizational research. One the one hand, Foucault’s notion of ‘power technologies’ has become a key analytical tool for organizational scholars seeking to understand the complexities of power in organizational life. On the other hand, the Foucauldian approach to organizational analysis has been widely criticized for its neglect of the agency of human actors, who instead figure as mere instruments of power, discourse, or power technologies. This article argues that this widely accepted critique does little justice to Foucault’s thought on technology and organizing. Reassessing Foucault’s own concept of technology, particularly in the context of his 1978 lectures, we argue that the conventional critique of Foucault’s ‘neglect of agency’ is misguided. To escape this interpretive orthodoxy we undertake a reformulation of the theme of technology and the technologies’ relation to organizational practices. Foucault’s technologies, we argue, cannot simply be evaluated as threatening or foreclosing human potential. Technologies are hybrid, mobile configurations quite the opposite of the ‘iron cages’ ostensibly enveloping organizations and repressing subjectivities.
|Journal||Organizacoes & Sociedade|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|