Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization
Mary Jo Hatch, author of Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives In The Triumph of Emptiness Mats Alvesson demonstrates the considerable value of critical theory for understanding everyday life in contemporary Western societies. Refreshingly astute as regards our current state of institutional being, this book is engagingly written and well-grounded in the best critical thought has to offer. Alvesson has once again accomplished what he does so well think a vital subject through with wit and insight
Joanna Williams, The Times Higher Education Supplement An engaging read that bravely tackles higher education orthodoxies
Cary Cooper, Times Higher Education This is a well-written, powerful book that makes you think and reflect about some of the key issues of our time. You couldn't ask for more.
Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic The Triumph of Emptiness pulls back the proverbial curtain on our current society to reveal the empty truth behind our illusions of grandeur. Mats Alvesson leads us on a critical, smart, and often amusing romp through a world in which everything is excellent, advice is known as coaching, and vice presidents are a dime a dozen. He shows the increasing gap between reality and fantasy, need and want, and product production and the illusions necessary to sell them. Higher education is not immune to these trends, with ideas of college for all and the pronounced dumbing-down of university study. If you are interested in the strange paradox in rich societies of how we can have so much but not be any happier, read this book.
George Ritzer, Distinguished University Professor, the University of Maryland The Triumph of Emptiness is a provocative, insightful, and highly ambitious (even grandiose) indictment of consumption, work, and the organizations in which it occurs, as well as higher education. They are all critiqued for their grandiosity, inflated and distorted images, and mindless competitiveness. This is an uncompromising work that is likely to both enlighten and infuriate the reader.
Yiannis Gabriel, Chair in Organizational Theory, University of Bath The author, a leading management scholar and a major sociological thinker, punctures the grandiosity and narcissism of our times when we succumb to the illusions that image, hype, and empty talk create value, when everyone must claim to be cutting edge and a world leader. Alvesson succeeds brilliantly in demonstrating that behind such grandiosity lurks an emptiness of meaning, of value, and of imagination. His powerful critical discussions of modern consumption, higher education, professionalism, and leadership insinuate that our current malaise goes far deeper than the economic crisis in which we find ourselves. This is a book that breaks loose of the management publication ghetto and demands to be read by everyone.
Thomas Kilkauner, Organizational Change Management most...
Mats Alvesson is a Professor in Organization Studies at Lund University. His research focuses on leadership, critical theory, gender, power, identity, and organizational image and culture.
1: Introduction: Zero-Sum Games, Grandiosity, and Illusion Trick 2: Consumption: the Shortcomings of Affluence 3: Explaining the Consumption Paradox: Why Aren't People (More) Satisfied? 4: Higher Education: Triumph of the Knowledge Intensive Society or a Statistical Cosmetics Project? 5: Higher Education: An Image-Boosting Business? 6: Modern Working Life and Organizations: Change, Dynamism, and Post-Bureaucracy? 7: Organizational Structures on the Beauty Parade: Imitation and Shop-Window Dressing 8: A Place in the Sun: Occupational Groups' Professionalization Projects and Other Status and Influence Ambitions 9: Leadership: A Driving Force or Empty Talk 10: The Triumph of Imagology: A Paradise for Tricksters? 11: The Costs of Grandiosity