The use of personality typing in organizational change

Discourse, emotions and the reflexive subject

Karin Garrety, Richard Badham, Viviane Morrigan, William D. Rifkin, M. Zanko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)


This article is based on a study of an organizational change program that sought to alter employees' self-perceptions, emotions and behavior through the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; a popular personality-typing tool. The program affords an opportunity to explore the various ways in which discourses advocating personal and organizational change work through employees' subjectivity. We argue that theoretical approaches that view the targets of such programs as passive - as either 'colonized' or constructed by discourses - fail to capture the complex and contradictory nature of organizational control, and subjects' changing positions within it, Drawing on symbolic interactionism, we argue that the power of discourses is mediated through an active, reflexive, and often emotional engagement on the part of individuals. Through their involvement, employees variously reproduce, resist or reconfigure power relationships which, during organizational change, are themselves unstable and inconsistent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-235
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes

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