Daria Nikitina 1
  • 1 European University at Saint-Petersburg, Gagarinskaya str., 6/1, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation, 191187

Pointless labor, bullshit jobs, and organizational absurdity: new directions for institutional theory

2023, vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 129–146 [issue contents]
This essay is dedicated to the synthesis of two strands in the field of organizational studies, those of institutional theory and the study of meaningless labor. Institutional theory was one of the first to turn its attention to the inconsistent and ineffective actions performed within the organization, offering a conceptual apparatus for their analysis. Such phenomena, according to the institutional point of view, actually performed a certain function, allowing organizations to match the requirements of their institutional environment. However, over time, corporate reality became increasingly filled with labor which seemed meaningless and useless even to those who participate in it. Hence, institutionalism lost its explanatory power. Formed almost in parallel, the study of meaningless labor has analyzed these trends in the spread of stupidity, bullshit, and absurdity in modern organizations on alternative theoretical grounds. In this paper, I describe aspects that institutional theory can borrow from the study of meaningless labor, that is, the attention to personal dissatisfaction and the intentional organizational avoidance of any institutional rules.
Citation: Nikitina D. (2023) Bessmyslennyy trud, bredovaya rabota i organizatsionnyy absurd: novye napravleniya dlya institutsional'noy teorii [Pointless labor, bullshit jobs, and organizational absurdity: new directions for institutional theory]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 22, no 1, pp. 129-146 (in Russian)
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