Reactivity and Resistance to Evaluation Devices

  • Ulla Forseth Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Trondheim, Norway
  • Stewart Clegg Centre for Management and Organisation Studies, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • Emil André Røyrvik Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Trondheim, Norway

Abstract

This paper explores the trajectory of a novel evaluation device for customer satisfaction with service encounters and the performance of financial advisors. Drawing on literature on quantification and commensuration, boundary objects and bipartite collaboration, we explore the set-up and collaboration between employer and trade union in the design phase and the actual use and translation of the valuation system. The data stems from a multi-year, multi-site study of banking in two Nordic countries. The analysis illustrates how, when some operational managers started using the device to suit their own purposes, the process morphed from an initial agreement into a dispute. The paper shows how quantitative systems of evaluation easily diverge from their initially proposed purposes when in use, producing reactivity and resistance among organizational members. Some financial advisors were positive about the evaluation device and the opportunity it afforded to improve performance, whereas others regarded it as another surveillance attempt for enhancing management control. We also contribute to the literature by elaborating on the relationship between reactivity and resistance on individual and collective levels.

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Author Biographies

Ulla Forseth, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Trondheim, Norway
Ulla Forseth is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Political Science at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. Her research interests include work and organization, emotional labour, power and resistance, risk, regulation and safety. Among her recent publications are "Trapped by Compliance” (2016) with Ragnar Rosness and Øyvind Dahl, "Brave new world? The global financial crisis' impact on Scandinavian banking's sales rhetoric and practices" (2015) with Emil A. Røyrvik og Stewart Clegg, and "Boxing and dancing: Tripartite collaboration as an integral part of a regulatory regime" (2014) with Ragnar Rosness. She is co-author of Den norske modellen: Internasjonalisering som utfordring og vitalisering (2015) with Brita Bungum and Elin Kvande.
Stewart Clegg, Centre for Management and Organisation Studies, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Stewart Clegg is Professor of Management and Organization Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. He is a Distinguished Fellow of ANZAM; A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences; a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, the University of Cambridge; a Fellow of the British Academy of the Social Sciences, and an Aston Fellow and a Fellow of the Academy of Management. He is a Visiting Professor at EM-Lyon, France; Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisboa, Portugal, and Strategic Research Advisor, Newcastle University Business School, in the UK. His research interests are wide but centre on power relations and theory. His most recent books are Gehry in Sydney (2015), with Liisa Naar and Sustainability and Organizational Change Management (2015) with Joao A. Matos.

 

Emil André Røyrvik, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Trondheim, Norway

Emil Andrè Røyrvik is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Political Science at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). His research focuses on ethnography and theory in the context of political economy, professional knowledge work, organizational, managerial and expert cultures, and contemporary economic and cultural globalization. Some of his recent publications include the co-edited volumes Trangen til å telle (2017) with Tord Larsen, and Det Skapende Mennesket (2015) with Harald Aspen and Malin Ravn. His monograph The Allure of Capitalism: An Ethnography of Management and the Global Economy in Crisis (published with Berghahn Books) won SINTEF’s award for excellence in research 2011.

Published
2019-02-01
How to Cite
Forseth, Ulla, Stewart Clegg, and Emil Røyrvik. 2019. “Reactivity and Resistance to Evaluation Devices”. Valuation Studies 6 (1), 31-61. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5992.196131.
Section
Articles