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18 Nov 2015

Enchanting work : Positive management or form of control ?

Thanks to a qualitative and empirical study of work experiences in a North American organic supermarket, Gazi Islam, researcher in the Alternative Forms of Markets and Organizations team, and his co-authors introduce the notion of ‘enchanting work’, a concept referring to the aura found in certain forms of service work.

The researchers explored how organizations use enchantment to fundamentally change how employees view their daily work.

In contrast to disenchantment -commonly associated with service work such as bagging groceries, stocking shelves or serving customers- that considerably reduces any kind of self-expression, autonomy and creativity, “enchanting work” encourages employees to express themselves. Wearing tattoos, stocking shelves with creativity, organizing events outside work hours; everything possible to make their supposedly meaningful work enchanted !  At what price do employees gain such freedom to “be themselves”?

The results of the research

The findings of the researchers show how enchanting work can be found on three different levels to :
1. infuse boring work processes with meaning
2. hide organizational control mechanisms and divert attention from precarious work conditions
3. recruit the participation of workers for creating an enchanted workplace.

They discussed the implications of their results for understanding contemporary worlds of work and explore both the emancipatory and ideological ramifications of enchanting work.

Abstract online

Contacts
Gazi Islam