”Gør som jeg siger – Vær selvstændig!”: Om spændet mellem kontrol og selvledelse

Jonas Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis sets out to examine which communication methods a mid-level manager can use in order to optimise the terms for employees’ self-management in an office within the Danish Ministry of Finance. The thesis uses an office in the Center for Digitisation (CDI) under the Danish Ministry of Finance as case. In CDI there is tension between wanting self-managing employees and having an organisational culture of control and evaluation. This tension consists of two seemingly conflicting organisational principles, namely those of network and hierarchy. The mid-level manager plays an important part in balancing the two principles because he or she represents the organisation’s objectives to the employees and simultaneously has to make sure that the objectives are realised. Therefore, the relation between mid-level manager and employees is the focus of this thesis. Through power theory by Michel Foucault complemented by systems theory by Niklas Luhmann, two central publications by the Danish Ministry of Finance regarding the organisation’s view on relations between it and its employees are examined. The examination provides three themes: 1. Employees are expected to manage themselves in accordance with frames and objectives 2. Through constant feedback and control the organisation’s management sustains employees in developing knowledge about relations between them and the organisation 3. The organisation seeks to create a relation between it and its employees by caring about the balance between work life and private life These three themes form the basis for qualitative interviews with a mid-level manager and four employees in CDI. The aim of the interviews is to examine how the relations described by the Ministry of Finance are observed and verbalised in the organisation. The interviews provide three thematic disparities between the organisations descriptions and the perceptions of those interviewed. 1. The frames and objectives, in accordance with which the employees are expected to manage themselves, are unclear 2. The feedback and control executed by the organisation’s management does not encourage self-management 3. The intimate relation the organisation seeks to create is not perceived by the employees By virtue of W. Barnett Pearce’s CMM-theory the thesis concludes by providing recommendations for how the mid-level manager can address the three thematic disparities by contributing to new forms of communication. The final argument of the thesis is that the mid-level manager can optimise the terms for the employees’ self-management by facilitating dialogue and forming relations in which the participants remain in a tension field between their own standpoint and a fundamental openness to others.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages137