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The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization

The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization (Hardback)

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Synopsis

In this book, Mats Alvesson aims to demystify some popular and upbeat claims about a range of phenomena, including the knowledge society, consumption, branding, higher education, organizational change, professionalization, and leadership. He contends that a culture of grandiosity is leading to numerous inflated claims. We no longer talk about plans but strategies. Supervisors have been replaced by managers. Goods have become brands. Wealthy countries try to show that they are knowledge societies through mass higher education but with limited effect on real qualifications or qualified job opportunities for graduates. The book views the contemporary economy as an economy of persuasion, where firms and other institutions increasingly assign talent, energy, and resources to rhetoric, image, branding, reputation, and visibility. Using a wide range of empirical examples to illuminate the realms of consumption, higher education, organization, and leadership, this provocative and engaging book challenges established assumptions and contributes to a critical understanding of society as a whole.

Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Lund, Sweden and at University of Queensland Business School, Australia. Recent books include Qualitative Research and Theory Development (Sage 2011, with Dan Karreman), Interpreting Interviews (Sage 2011), Metaphor we Lead By: Understanding Leadership in the Real World (Routledge 2011, ed with Andre Spicer), The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies (Oxford University Press, edited with Todd Bridgman and Hugh Willmott), Understanding Gender and Organizations (Sage, 2009, 2nd ed, with Yvonne Billing), Reflexive Methodology (Sage, 2009, 2nd ed, with Kaj Skoldberg), Changing Organizational Culture (Routledge 2008, with Stefan Sveningsson), Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms (Oxford University Press, 2004).

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