The Pleasure of Management Ideas: The Discursive Formation on Kaizen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The administration and management of organizations and companies is based upon the belief in the rationality of certain ideas Ð here referred to as management ideas Ð that is, the belief in these ideas1 ability to solve problems and provide opportunities for betterment. The talk of and writings on management ideas (lexis) constitute discursive formations that precede and shapes practices (praxis), i.e. activities, processes, and movements that take place on the shop floor, in administrative departments, in the boardrooms of organizations. When departing from a modernistic logocentric ontology, discursive formations do not merely represent individuals1 thoughts and preferences for organizational activities, but rather precede and construct the subject and enable various utterances to be expressed legitimately. Discursive formations thus serve to construct truth, knowledge, and power which guide individuals in their daily lives, that affects their thoughts, preferences, and desires. Since the viable management idea cannot fully reject previous ideas and practices, they have to be integrated into the existing grids of the organizational field. Yet, they have to contribute with new insights Ð some novelty Ð or they will perish; thus, management ideas are pleasurable due to their ability to make certain behaviours and desires taken-for-granted and appear as being given from the outset, at the same time as they put forth new qualities as being of importance. Pleasure is therefore the non-repressive, gratifying side of power due to its ability to provide individuals with a set of legitimate actions. This thesis present a study of how the notion of kaizen is employed discursively by academic writers, practitioners, and consultants. By arguing that kaizen is emancipative, that it is departing from scientific management, that it is applicable in a Scandinavian management setting, that it is mutually beneficial to employees as well as employers, and so forth, kaizen is infused with values, and, as a consequence, provides various individuals with a rationale for certain behaviours and modes of thinking. The notion of kaizen thus serves as one of the polymorphous techniques of power, shaping society and its individuals through the use of the pleasure.


  • Alexander Styhre
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • pleasure., power, postmodernism, language/speech, discourse analysis, management ideas, continuous improvements, manufacturing, kaizen, Management of enterprises, Företagsledning, management
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 Nov 27
  • Lund University Press
Print ISBNs91-7966-544-6
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1998-11-27 Time: 10:00 Place: EC III, sal 207, Lund School of Economics and Management External reviewer(s) Name: Chia, Robert Title: Dr. Affiliation: University Of Essex ---