Evaluation of Human Action: Foucault's Power/Knowledge Corollary

Evaluation of Human Action: Foucault's Power/Knowledge Corollary

Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Illinois Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-284-8.ch008
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The people dynamic is especially significant when trying to understand knowledge management. One aspect of interactions between groups of people is the impact of knowledge, be it a gain or a lack of knowledge. The work of Michael Foucault addresses this in his thesis on power/knowledge. By analyzing traditional theories and introducing Foucault’s power/knowledge ideas, the following provides some insights into the actions and interactions of people within organizational settings.
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Organizational Behaviors And Incentives

What is self-monitoring, and why do people do it? According to psychological theorists, the propensity to self-monitor is a personality trait that ranges from high to low. High self-monitors actively try to shape their social worlds by constructing public selves that they believe will affect the perceptions of others in socially-enhancing ways (Snyder and Gangestad, 1986). There is some evidence that they are correct in this belief. Researchers have linked self-monitoring activities to a range of workplace-related outcomes, including performance, leadership, information management and boundary spanning (Kilduff and Day, 1994; Zaccaro et al., 1991; Caldwell and O'Reilly, 1982). For high self-monitors the incentives are the rewards associated with career advancement, such as monetary compensation, higher organizational rank, and enhanced reputation within the organization, the industry and the wider social space. Therefore, to understand self-monitoring as a personality trait means that we must study how those traits form and how those traits influence identity-shaping behavior (Erikson, 1974; Winter et al., 1998).

However, structuralists and interactionists argue that social networks mediate the effects of self-monitoring (White, 1992; Goffman, 1959). Researchers have found that the effects of self-monitoring activities do depend on the social actor's position in the network, but that high-self monitors tend to occupy the central positions (Mehra et al., 2001). In earlier studies, high self-monitors were found to be particularly effective as boundary spanners, who benefit from self-monitoring by acting as go-betweens who are able to obtain information about resources and opportunities from a number of disconnected sources (Caldwell and O'Reilly, 1982).

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