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Critical Management Studies (CMS) form a substitute to a number of conservative administration presumptions and approaches. The key reason behind the development of CMS was to provide a transformative approach to traditional management. CMS is a sceptical look at the management and organisational structures that are currently in use.
These structures are evaluated and criticised based on their demonstrated social and ecological sustainability (Adler 2007). Contrary to the popular belief, CMS is not rooted on the focus on individual organisations and their managers’ poor management practices (Adler 2007).
This belief, which is propagated by the outsiders of CMS, is largely untrue. CMS stands for the critical assessment of the wider organisational and management structures.
Adler states that CMS focuses on ordinary elements such as ecological pessimism, public discrimination, and pitiable management that are displayed in the wider social and economic structures whose traditions have been simulated by long-established administrators and the evolving conformist organisations.
The current framework of CMS entails the critical assessment of issues in management such as marketing, organisational strategies, information systems, accounting, organisational relations, and international networks (Clegg, Dany, & Grey 2011).
CMS focuses on fundamental matters such as the use of uncertainty and analysis of the ubiquitous organisational administration speculations, the prevailing organisational configurations and traditions in the effort to propose changes.
The use of criticism and critique in CMS is also aimed at illustrating how the contemporary organisational patterns and structures are disruptive and conflict ridden, with this situation being propagated and nourished by out-dated beliefs and practices in management (Sim & Van Loon, 2005).
CMS does not only offer critique to the management issues, but also goes a step further to offer solutions and alternatives. The aim is also to prove that the practices and beliefs are essentially changeable, with the change being dependent on the attitudes, thoughts, and knowledge of the management (Sim & Van Loon, 2005).
CMS has developed from the works of a number of theorists and scholars who have contributed in the development of theories and structures that are essential to the recommended management changes.
Some of the people who contributed significantly in the creation of CMS include Foucault, Weber, and Hegel, with the theorists and scholars contributing to, ‘contemporary developments that stretch beyond the realm of academic theory and philosophical or social thought’ (Adler, 2007, p.1316).
The modern-day business enterprise serves different functions in the modern society and a critical assessment of these functions is necessary, with different social avenues of critique developing.
Some of the contemporary issues in the global economy that have influenced the modern business environment include the introduction of the European Union and its market, the rise of China and India as global economic and social forces.
These developments have provided a basis of comparison to the largely traditional and dominant Anglo-American organisational values and models. CMS is very broad, with the major concepts, theories, and thoughts being significantly many.
This report applies the CMS theories to assess a case study on call-centre labour in a global economy by Premilla D’Cruz and Ernesto Noronha (2009).
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Case Set Up
Bullying at the workplace has been a topic of concern for a long time for managers and human resource departments in organisations. This account, which is based in Indian, looks at the use of CMS in the analysis of D’Cruz and Noronha’s scenario examination on call centres.
These individuals performed an investigation on the workplace occurrences of workers in some intercontinental call hubs in Mumbai and Bangalore. The two managed to assess the role of organisational sources of bullying at the workplace, thus providing some recommendations to the same (D’Cruz, & Noronha 2009).
Case Study Analysis
Human resource management policies that are adopted in different organisations are displayed in the call centre working analysis above. There is a significant gap in HRM roles. Most organisations state that they apply soft policies, with the case study showing that hard HRM policies are actually the ones being practiced.
Most studies that have evaluated relationships between employers and their employees have concluded that although managers consider workers their most precious resources, they instead apply inflexible HRM guidelines and controls that are detrimental to their workforce. This shows that the organisation is considered more important in relation to employees.
In the call centre, employees have no working union to safeguard their interests. They are however paid well with regard to the existing labour markets in the country. Another positive assessment of the HRM policies in the organisations shows that employees feel important while working there since adequate measures are in place to influence their self-interest and self-esteem.
The organisations also participate in the inculcation of values to their employees to ensure that they put the organisational interests ahead of their own. Such organisations incorporate group work and collaboration at their workplaces.
However, there are several negative policies in these call centres, including the hard and extended running hours. The operational circumstances are also complicated based on the many and frequently cruel customers that they encounter every day in their job.
These employees also have very high organisational targets, with the managers being harsh in the workplace. Harassment to these employees has contributed to conditioning, with D’Cruz and Noronha (2009) terming it as depersonalised bullying, which is created by the harsh policies, managers, supervisors, and a forceful working environment.
HRM practitioners as displayed in the case can be described as disguising hard working conditions provided at the workplace with soft rhetoric. Critical theory is important in this expression. It states that rhetoric has dominated over reality in the current HRM mandates (Guest 1990).
According to Guest (1990), HRM roles act as a smokescreen where the management teams can evade union formation and function in organisations, thus turning employees into working slaves, where they can work against their own will in the belief that the organisations are benevolent.
Another researcher who is opposed to the displayed organisational rhetoric is Tadajewski (2011) who states that this rhetoric introduces HRM tasks that consider organisational benefit before employee welfare.
Gane and Kalberg (2013, p. 26) also observe, ‘organisations use rhetoric to communicate an inherently attractive image of people who trust each other, share risks, and rewards and are united by common feelings of identity while providing little indication of the remote economic rationalism that distinguishes management in the real world’.
Other researchers and analysts have also claimed that the softness displayed by the management is a way of ensuring that employees are subjective to the interests of the organisation. Managers also use the softness to wade off discontent from the displayed organisational control.
The Indian Call Centre analysis provides results that reinforce critical perspectives. The analysis of the case study can also be done using the theories on transformational leadership and bureaucracy advanced by Max Weber.
In organisations, some officials are appointed to carry out specific duties and functions. They are awarded specific powers to carry out these functions (Budhwar, Varma, Singh & Dhar 2006).
Bureaucracy in the ideal form is the organisational arrangement where specific individuals are involved in the giving and receiving of commands, which are based on the existent rational system of rules, with no involvement of external influences (Morrison, 2006).
The fundamental features of the bureaucracies described by Max Weber define the running of some organisations, with control vesting on specific individuals (Cox 2009; Cooper & Burrell 1988).
He claims that this form of bureaucracy leads to the ‘iron cage’ phenomenon in organisational management although the ideal application of bureaucracy would lead to greater organisational efficiency and effectiveness (Cox 2009).
In the operations at the call centre, both the supervisors and junior employees are obedient to the existing difficult and intolerable conditions at the workplace. The acceptance to working in these conditions demonstrates the iron cage phenomenon described by Weber (Cox 2009).
These workers have been deprived of their privileges to dispute and to set right the circumstances at the administrative centres, with the reason being that they have acknowledged depersonalised maltreatment. In this case, CMS can be used to show how organisations can use bureaucracy to change the meaning and use of teamwork.
In the organisation, the traditional and mainstream management perceptions practised include teamwork as a tool for mobilising employees to achieve organisational goals and improved organisational performance (Adler, Forbes, &Wilmot, 2007).
CMS on the other hand demonstrates that teamwork is abused in the present day organisational dispensations. Research works indicate that teamwork is effective as a management aid. However, in the recent years, the poor performance of well-staffed teams to perform and deliver on the organisational goals has cast doubts on this notion.
CMS, therefore, suggests that teamwork in the modern context is a tool for the exploitation of employees by organisations, with management and HRM mandates using teamwork to oppress team members in the name of improving organisational performance (Adler, Forbes, & Willmott 2007).
Transformative leadership as suggested by Max Weber (Cooper & Burrell 1988) and/or advanced by Bass can be considered in terms of the ‘I model’ (Bass, 1990, p. 19). This model of transformational leadership consists of four components, including intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individualised consideration, and idealised influence (Bass 1990).
The model states that leaders should act as role models in organisations. According to Bass (1990), the intellectual influence that demands leaders to act as role models causes the generation of trust and the foundation of ethics in organisations.
Intellectual stimulation entails the incorporation of views on employees in the operation of the organisation by the transformational leaders. Individual consideration, on the other hand, ensures that transformational leaders consider the welfare of each individual in the organisation irrespective of their levels in the organisational echelon.
These types of leaders give attention to workers, thus providing them with motivation and encouragement in the course of their work. Inspirational motivation entails transformational leaders motivating their employees, inspiring them, and providing them with bravery and means of countering any challenges in the organisations’ operations.
In the call centres discussed in the case study, leaders have a little display of transformative leadership as evidenced by the occurrences of depersonalised bullying in their respective organisations and their inability to deal with the same.
Employees display a labour force that is not motivated, inspired, or dedicated to their work, and are not involved in the development of policies or their implementation (Adler, Forbes, & Willmott 2007).
These employees demonstrate the absence of transformational leadership, with the authors stating that the organisation needs the introduction of this form of leadership (Adler, Forbes, & Willmott 2007).
It suffices to make a number of recommendations to the changes that are necessary in the organisations in terms of their management policies with regard to CMS. The organisations should embark on the introduction of a union for employees to cater for their own welfare.
A union will be crucial in the development of a better working environment for these employees since it will safeguard their interests in the organisation. Another change that the management needs to adopt is teamwork that is geared towards employee motivation and empowerment.
Instead of using teamwork to affect the organisational productivity, organisations should apply the same to motivate their employees. The call centres also need to adopt training for their leaders on the principles of transformative leadership to ensure such leadership is practiced in these organisations.
The call centres need to introduce policies that are friendly to the workforce. These policies include the reduction of the working hours for employees. Since these employees work in cruel conditions, they are exposed to depersonalised harassment from all sides, including the clients.
A reduction of the working hours and the introduction of shorter shifts will act as a cushion for some of these challenges. Other necessary measures include the introduction of new campaigns to enhance collaboration between employees and their supervisors and the creation of a working feedback mechanism.
Employees should be allowed to express their views through participation in decision-making processes in these call centres.
In conclusion, critical management studies are important in the changing of the conventional organisational dispensation. CMS provides alternative management theories in the attempt to change the conventional practice in organisations.
The report has focused on depersonalised harassment as witnessed in the aforementioned administrative centres in India as discussed by D’Cruzi and Noronha. Several Max Weber’s suppositions, namely civil service and transformative headship, have been used in the assessment to determine the situation at the areas of work, specifically at the said call hubs.
An analysis using these theories has shown that the management structures in the contemporary organisations are different from the rhetoric discussed by researchers. The HR customs are oppressive and that workers have adapted to working in these conditions.
The report suggests some major changes that should be made at these organisations based on the CMS analysis. The adoption of these recommendations is crucial to improvement in the HR issues observed in the call centres.
Therefore, human resource managers have a lesson to learn from this report in terms of the way they handle employees who are the key pillars of any organisation.
HR managers need to make sure that the environment to which employees are exposed is work friendly in the effort to motivate them (the employees) towards giving their best to the organisations. This strategy will in turn lead to the accomplishment of the formulated targets.
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