Normalising global neo-liberalism and workplace change through career management and development discourse: a New Zealand case study
Dyer, S. L. (2003). Normalising global neo-liberalism and workplace change through career management and development discourse: a New Zealand case study (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13854
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13854
Critical theorists call for the denaturalisation of complex processes within society that render individuals unconscious to particular forms of power and domination. They promote resistance and transformation based on liberatory aspirations for humanity. I have explored the extent to which contemporary career discourse facilitates and entrenches the dominant and powerful interests of multinational corporations and some nations. The contemporary construction of career can be seen as historically embedded in the concomitant discourses of flexibility and global neo-liberalism. My literature review indicated that much of the contemporary economic, organisational, and career literatures promote global neo-liberalism and organisational and labour flexibility as contributing to greater prosperity for all. Early critics and subsequent commentators have pointed to the associated outcomes of over-, under-, and unemployment and downward pressure on wages and conditions of employment. Such outcomes have exacerbated the disparities for women and indigenous peoples. These disparate outcomes are deemed contradictory to the liberation and inclusiveness principles aspired to by democratic societies. There is growing interest in the possibility of harnessing career concepts and processes to facilitate desired changes in the processes and accountabilities of employment. Governments in diverse nations have created complex institutional links between employment and welfare institutions and hired career experts to intervene in the career planning of citizens. This intervention draws upon contemporary career constructs where it is assumed that individuals can and ought to take responsibility for managing their careers, themselves, and their family. This allocation of responsibility is typically bereft of political analysis and becomes problematic for vulnerable groups and for the principle of inclusiveness in a context that celebrates efficiency gains through downward pressure on income and employment conditions and creates employment insecurity for many people. The empirical work for this thesis was designed to investigate my analysis of the co-emergence of the discourses of global neo-liberalism and organisational and labour flexibility and the contemporary discourses of career. Career Services rapuara was chosen as an instrumental case study (Stake, 1998). This organisation is a government sponsored career agency in New Zealand charged with providing career services to facilitate increased personal responsibility for career planning in an increasingly insecure employment market. Partial ethnographic method (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000) was used to frame material collection. Records and documents were reviewed, and interviews with staff were conducted to gain an understanding of the organisation. Two career guidance sessions with unemployed adults were observed to understand career intervention techniques. These participants were then interviewed to gain understanding of their perceptions of the career session. Both neo-liberals and critical theorists promote a commitment to human liberation. Neo-liberals suggest this liberation occurs through the unconstrained activities of the markets. My study supports the view of critical theorists that the seemingly natural processes of markets are complex nexus of power and control. The uncritical use of contemporary career theories, concepts, and practices naturalises and upholds these powerful and dominant relationships. A critical transformation of the discourses of globalisation, flexibility, and career based on genuine human liberation, empowerment and participation is called for to resist the dominant and powerful interests of society.
The University of Waikato
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