Neo-normative controle behind the scenes
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This research is an autoethnographic story that presents the emergence and implications of neo-normative control in the context of the transition from local startup into international company. Neo-normative is an emerging form of normative control that stimulates employees to express their true self by breaking the traditional work/non-work boundary. Having ‘fun’ and being ‘playful’ is stimulated at work due to the assumption that these aspects are associated with conformity and organisational loyalty. This autoethnographic research reveals the unspoken and puts meaningful participative observations, interviews with employees and analysis of organisational symbols in a more critical perspective. My personal experiences as marketing intern and researcher simultaneously, represent the downside of neo-normative control from an insider's perspective. The aim is to bring a counterbalance against the ruling optimistic and positive status quo and to make issues discussable. This research shows how a revolutionary period of change is connected with a period of rapid growth, focus on efficiency and changes in leadership and power. After the management buy-out (MBO) of the founders, changes in the strategy are reported such as intensified formal controls and management accounting techniques to communicate managerial philosophies. Whereas the culture first was an expression of people’s shared values, the now formalised company values determine the way employees should behave. The best employees are the ones who have internalised the company values and natural behave within these values. Although individuality is seen as an important aspect of neo-normative control, uniformity and cohesion are shown ascendant and in conflict with individuality. While uniformity creates an efficient and effective culture, there is counter-productivity reported on innovation and initiative in fast changing markets.