Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Janus Look of Administration. Which Look?

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Janus Look of Administration. Which Look?

Article excerpt

The scope of this paper is to use Roman mythology, in this case the the myth of Janus, to examine Administration as an area of knowledge. We will use the myth of Janus (two faces) to attempt to explain a source of concern: the more we seek to understand Administration as an area of knowledge, the further we need to distance ourselves from it in order to get a clearer understanding of its proposals. With this distancing, we find that its potential can only be achieved as a productive force in the management processes of organized social systems since its premises are determined by the quest for the best performance. However, its capacity for transformation as the emancipating knowledge of man, of the creative worker and participant in the decision-making process, fall short of its potential. Some organizational theories, especially those arising in the mid-1950s, have the intention of minimizing the effects of instrumental rationality on the organization of work by means of motivational efforts, as well as bringing the market closer to society - see, for example, the theme of corporate social responsibility and the like. However the hegemony of the market, understood here as the space par excellence dedicated to competition governed by the "survival of the fittest," does not appear to contribute to this approximation as well as other motivational inclinations.

1

The purpose of this essay is to use Roman mythology, in this case, the myth of Janus, to analyze Administration as an area of knowledge. Preliminarily, it should be pointed out that myths can be interpreted in various manners and this diversity of senses makes a precise definition of their meanings difficult since their interpretations are value-based representations, a fact that has led the study and/or use of myths of a specialized past, of the mythologists, to a broader usage of their contents (GUAL, 1987). Or, in the words of Mircea Eliade, "[the] myth is an extremely complex cultural reality, which can be approached and interpreted through multiple and complementary perspectives" (ELIADE, 1991: 11). Further on, Eliade (1991: 13) stresses that the "main function of the myth consists in disclosing the exemplary models of all significant human rites and activities: from eating or marriage to work, education, art or wisdom." Thus, the different possibilities of interpreting myths make individual acceptances favor certain aspects of the myth in focus. It is starting from this perspective that I hope this text will be understood, as we use the myth of Janus (in Latin, and Jano in Portuguese) to try to explain a concern: the more I try to understand Administration as an area of knowledge2, the farther away from it I go when seeking a better understanding of its proposals. With this distancing, I see that its potential can be realized only as a productive force in the management processes of organized social systems because its premises are already determined by the search for better performance.

Nevertheless, its capacity to transform as knowledge that emancipates man, the creative worker3 and the participant in the decision making process falls short of its potential.4 Although some organizational theories, mainly those originated in the mid 1 950s, intend to minimize the effects of instrumental rationality on the organization of work through motivational endeavors, as well as dealing with the market society (for example, the topic of corporate social responsibility and so forth), the hegemony of the market, here understood as the area par excellence dedicated to competition, benchmarked by the "law of the strongest," does not seem to contribute to this approximation like other motivational whims.5

2

Janus belongs to Roman mythology and was explored by Virgil6 in his work The JEneicP. The face of Janus is characterized by being bifrontal - it has two faces - (HARVEY, 1987: 294) and symbolized8 the duality that is contradictory in our representation and has its origin in modernity, the 18th century, the century of light, breaking with the predetermined past, present and future. …

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