Association for the Anthropology of Policy
Oral Presentation Session
To create a more ‘aligned’ workforce exposed to less friction behavioral policies are introduced to enforce specific modes of human action and interaction in and among employees in corporate organizations. As a member of the management of one company explains, the aim is to create a more productive work environment apt to operate more efficiently which, as a result should enable the company to respond to change more rapidly. To support this kind of transformation external consultants interrelate shared ‘values’, collective ‘guidelines for individual behavior’, ‘best practices’ and operational standards configuring them as contingent and coherent elements of one single normative system, a proprietary ‘model’. In an act of ‘translation’ as the managers refer to it any kind of activity pertaining to any task associated with any role in any operational context is placed and enclosed in these ‘models’ allowing to potentially incorporate collective norms conceived around a specific ‘culture’ and set of ‘values’ in any form of human action and interaction taking place in the work environment. I argue that the purpose of these ‘models’ is manifold: They serve the naturalization of collective ethical frameworks, they foster the fixation and standardization of procedures and processes, they facilitate the implementation of measures of control and they legitimatize the introduction of disciplinary techniques. Exploring how ethical frameworks, individual conduct, normative practices and operational standards are integrated into a ‘model’ for ‘alignment’ this paper offers insights into contemporary formations of knowledge and power questioning the agency of ‘models’.