'Someone Big and Important': Identification and Affect in an International Development Organization

Kate Kenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Psychoanalysis has been widely used to develop our understanding of power in organizations. In this paper, I draw on a case study of a non-profit organization in the field of international development, in order to explore in depth how people engage with powerful discourses at play in this context. I use an ethnographic approach to do so, and find Lacan's ideas on identification and affect to be useful in the analysis of the case. I show how, at first glance, people appeared to readily alter their activities and goals in response to the wishes of an important donor. However, moving deeper to examine identifications on the part of people themselves reveals complex forms of recognition that were inscribed by affective relations. I discuss the implications of these findings for the study of organizations, including the contribution of the concept of affect for studies of identification and subjection in organizations, and the value of ethnographic research approaches that draw upon Lacan's work on recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1193
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

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