The Future of Corporate Globalization: From the Extended Order to the Global Village

By Jeremiah J. Sullivan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

WORK AND WORKERS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

In the 20th century we accepted the idea that employees are both instrumental and responsive in their approach to work, and in the 21st century we are moving toward a vision of toil as “the investment in something for its own sake, the commitment … toanactivity that is its own reward …” 1 The roots of this new paradigm are to be found in the work of Karl Marx, but modern theorists and researchers have resurrected it. In this chapter I want to discuss the process idea of work and how it will challenge 21st-century global organizations to alter their ways of managing employees.


MARX AND WORK AS LIVING

Marx rested his grand theories on the assumption that work is a natural preoccupation of a human, one of the ways the self extends itself into the world as a matter of course. Working is thus living, and the results of work are objects embodying the skills and energies of the worker. Products, in a sense, are tied to the worker, as extended parts of his or her being. In another sense, they are necessary mirrors in which the worker sees himself. Without its products the self would have difficulty being embedded in reality and legitimizing its place.

the external aims [of work] become stripped of the semblance of merely external natural urgencies [to gain an income], and become posited as aims which the individual himself posits—hence as self-realization, objectification of the subject, hence real freedom, whose action is, precisely, labour. 2

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