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Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation (Labor & Social Change) [Paperback]

Gideon Kunda
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Mar 1993 1566390753 978-1566390750 Reprint
In this intriguing ethnography of a large American high-tech corporation, Gideon Kunda offers a critical analysis of its much celebrated "corporate culture." In his extensive study of the company's engineering division, Kunda uses detailed descriptions of everyday rituals and interactions in which the culture is brought to life, excerpts from in-depth interviews and a wide variety of corporate texts to vividly portray managerial attempts to design and impose the culture and the ways in which it is experienced by members of the organization. The company's management, Kunda reveals, uses a variety of methods to promulgate what it claims is a non-authoritarian, informal, and flexible work environment that enhances and rewards individual commitment, initiative, and creativity while promoting personal growth. The author demonstrates, however, that these pervasive efforts mask an elaborate and subtle form of normative control in which the members' minds and hearts become the target of corporate influence. Gideon Kunda is a Lecturer in Sociology and Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press,U.S.; Reprint edition (1 Mar 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566390753
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566390750
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,942,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"[P]rovides a much needed balance to the organizational-culture literature that is sweeping the organizational-behavior field and...making its way into popular culture." --Paul DiMaggio "Kunda finds a dark side to the new management desire to 'bind employees' hearts and minds to the corporate interest.'... The pervasive employee response is irony--acceptance and detachment at the same time. Thus the culture undermines itself." --Sloan Management Review "Using detailed descriptions of everyday rituals and interactions in which the 'corporate culture' is brought to life, as well as excerpts of in-depth interviews, the author portrays vividly the tension caused by managerial control and the forms of individual experience it produces." --Science Books & Films "[Engineering Culture] is a wonderfully ironic account of corporate life in the fast lanes of the high-tech trades... Kunda's display of the emotional underlife of organizational fun-and-games is a most revealing one." --John Van Maanen, MIT

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4.0 out of 5 stars Engineering culture 16 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Condition of the book is like new! Does not have any scratches. I recomment this book to people who do an MBA or are interested in finding out what culture suits for their company.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ethnography of corporate cultural control 22 July 2001
By "candrews@socy.umd.edu" - Published on Amazon.com
This book provides an excellent portrayal (though an ethnographic study) of a company which utilizes corporate culture as a means of control. The company expends great energy at inculcating an ideology that results in the employees putting the company and their work at it above all else, exhibited not only in discourse, but in failed marriages and overtime. This text illustrates how employees are converted into missionaires who will follow productions schedules and management strategies with religious zeal, oblivious to their personal lives and the cost of these new commitments. It would be interesting to see what these types of companies are doing today to manipulate and extract full faith and commitment from employees. A must read for software engineers and those who study organizations and org. psych.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engineering Culture, Control and Commitment in a High-Tech C 25 April 2000
By Raquel Puente - Published on Amazon.com
Kunda in his book explains that culture could be used as a powerful weapon that the organization uses against the workers to manipulate and finally control them, reaching the organization's goals. The author supports this idea through the study of the High Technologies Corporation (HTC) case, a "state of the art" company that designs, develops, manufactures, sells, and services a number of popular high-tech products. The company has been a high-tech success story through three decades of existence. According with Kunda, culture is a set of rules that support the relationship between the company and the people, specifically it is compound by rules for behaviors, thoughts and emotions. The conformation of this set is carried out by the interaction within workers and between the company, it means that each individual within the company could be affecting the organization culture (interactive effect). Kunda explains that the company sees the culture as a reengineering process, where it have to be redesigns and maintained to get the goals of the company. On another way, control is the effect to internalize and institutionalize the set of rules to get involve and part of the organization. Once obtained this level, the worker will be internally committed, strongly identified with company's goals, and intrinsically satisfied by his or her work; therefore, he or she will not need the company to be coercive with them to play his or her own role in the job. A company uses rituals as the machinery to model the culture. These rituals in HTC are conformed by structural speeches, presentations, meetings, lectures, parties, team and inter-group meetings and training workshops. Other elements used by companies are the myths; the company supports its message through a leader, who serves as model to follow. Finally, the common vocabulary is used to reinforce the identification of workers with organization's culture. An important dilemma that the employee faces is adopt or not adopt the organization's culture. Can they really have this choice? According to Kunda, some employees are alienating completely trough the culture, even losing their autonomy (marginal workers). Another workers are reluctant to adopt and intelligently simulate the internalization of culture or maybe draw a line to separate own culture and corporation culture. Both groups want really want to be part of the organization. In conclusion, culture is a mean to get corporation's goals and workers' convenience. In this sense the worker "choice" is to get involves or not with the trade-off to get high positions or not.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to see someone is finally addressing cultural fit. 12 July 2011
By Pecos Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a great read for anyone considering how to integrate team, new employees, acquisitions and management fit. We start out learning what culture is and how each company has culture at the smallest levels, and how productivity can be enhanced or hindered by how management deals with culture. The book goes on to discuss how difficult it is to change culture and when an attempt is made, management from all levels needs to believe and act on this change. The book goes on to mention how actions are louder than words and management needs to massage culture to get the highest performance of it's people.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition in the Works 17 Aug 2012
By punafish - Published on Amazon.com
Would love to buy it. But only if you put it on Kindle. If you can translate it into so many different languages surely you can get it uploaded and on line, no? Sounds like a win-win proposition for all.
5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does thought control work if it is "benign"? 5 Nov 2006
By talkaboutquality - Published on Amazon.com
Let an anthropologist walk around freely in a high-tech company, studying what people say to each other and why, and you get "ethnography of corporate culture". I suppose the reason companies allow (or even invite) this kind of study is to see if their attempts to mold corporate culture for better productivity really work.

Simple answer: no, it doesn't. You can try to manage culture, and control people's thoughts and reactions, but if you do it strongly enough to have an effect, people will notice. It can create cynicism as well as emotional conflict as people try to reconcile membership in the company culture with their feelings of being manipulated. Kunda is thorough, and honest -- transparently describing his own methods in an epilogue chapter.

I gave it a 3 only because I found it a long read to read about someone else's corporate culture. Better, perhaps, to take time here and there to think about our own.
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