Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation

Synopsis

Engineering Culture is an award-winning ethnography of the engineering division of a large American high-tech corporation. Now, this influential book-which has been translated into Japanese, Italian and Hebrew-has been revised to bring it up to date. In Engineering Culture, Gideon Kunda offers a critical analysis of an American company's well-known and widely emulated "corporate culture." Kunda uses detailed descriptions of everyday interactions and rituals 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. Kunda carefully dissects the impact this form of control has on employees' work behavior and on their sense of self. In the conclusion written especially for this edition, Kunda reviews the company's fortunes in the years that followed publication of the first edition, reevaluates the arguments in the book, and explores the relevance of corporate culture and its management today.

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