Power relationships within a corporate finance department: a Foucauldian approach to corporate hierarchies and resistance

Garland, Angela M
Godfrey, Andy
Hooper, Keith
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This PhD thesis investigates power relationships within a corporate Finance Department employing a Foucauldian approach to explaining corporate hierarchies and resistance and the implications.Research was conducted in the form of a case study and observation of a corporate finance department, referred to as the 'Finance Department', at the 'Company', referred to as such for confidentiality purposes. The Company is a large Dutch based mail and logistics entity that operates internationally across over 200 countries and has its corporate head office just outside of Amsterdam. The Company's Finance Department was in the throws of change, particularly around hierarchies as a result of the reengineering process with the purpose of creating efficiencies. The aim of the research was to evaluate the power relationships that existed within the hierarchies between management and workers who worked either for the Finance Department or closely with it, and to analyse the outcomes of these power relationships in terms of resistance.The case study is a Foucauldian insight into the different individuals who worked either within the Finance Department or closely with it, with an evaluation of their roles and how their differing power structures impacted upon the workflow within the Finance Department.The outcome of this research is an evaluation of those individuals and their relationships at a particular point in time, which was impacted by so many different factors. The research could give readers an understanding of power relationships and framework for contextual Foucauldian evaluation.The significance of the contribution arising from this particular piece of research is that it involves the combination of a case study method with a Foucauldian perspective. The combination of these two elements allows the research to be done both from the top down and also from the bottom up. Increasing in use as a research tool (Hamel, 1992), the case study contributes uniquely to our body of knowledge of individual, organisational, social and political phenomena (Yin, 1994). The Foucauldian perspective plays an important part in terms of an understanding of power, despite the fact that it is often difficult to fully comprehend the meanings behind Foucault's work (McHoul & Grace, 1993).

Glass ceiling , Business hierarchy , Semi-structured interviews , Interpretive approach , Resistance
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