The charismatic gaze: everyday leadership practices of the 'new' manager

Ball, Kirstie and Carter, Chris (2002). The charismatic gaze: everyday leadership practices of the 'new' manager. Management Decision, 40(6) pp. 552–565.



During the last 20 years, there has been an explosion in the production and dissemination of a number of highly popular managerial concepts. These initiatives, such as TQM and BPR, highlight a number of themes. Refers to these new movements as “new managerialism”, supported by new institutional frameworks which all act as sources and bearers of management knowledge upon which, in part, professional managers draw for practical guidance. Uses Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical methods to argue that new managerialism is a discourse on a grand scale as well as emerging and dispersing locally, occurring in everyday talk and text, or “discourse”. According to Foucault, one of the effects of grand scale new managerialism is that it exerts a disciplinary gaze over managers who are immersed in its knowledges, and who seek to follow its guidelines to achieve “best practice”. As leaders, this best practice relies on the utilisation of “charisma”. Using interpretive repertoires, a method that is sympathetic to this approach, analyses the talk of two everyday managers who describe their roles as leaders, as well as a group of employees, or “followers”, and notes the importance of “charisma” in their accounts. Shows how the projection of a charismatic identity is central both accounts, and suggests that the individuals studied are subject to a charismatic gaze.

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