The new communication order: Management, language, and morality in a multinational corporation

by Susanne Cohen

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By Susanne CohenFull

“Communication” is central to participative management strategies associated with post-Fordist capitalism. Although exhortations to manage via “communication” instrumentalize managerial linguistic practices, they also moralize them in reference to a larger therapeutic moral order. By drawing from fieldwork conducted in the office of a Russian factory affiliated with a U.S. multinational corporation and by attending to metadiscourses in training manuals, managerial meetings, and conversations with company staff, I examine how “communication” can serve as a touchstone for managers and professionals endeavoring to exemplify moral personhood and create moral workplaces, even as it leaves fundamental inequalities of global capitalism intact. I also highlight the substantial transformations that “communication” can undergo in its global circulation and the particular tensions between morality and instrumentality that arise in post-Fordist overseas manufacturing.