Silent Running: Tacit, Discursive and Psychological Aspects of Management in a Top UK Advertising Agency

Chris Hackley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In old American World War II movies submarine commanders called for 'silent running' when the enemy were near. No orders were issued but anarchy did not ensue. Everyone knew what to do. This paper describes a research study of one of the top five UK advertising agencies, in which management appeared silent in the sense that explicit, overt, bureaucratic, sanction-backed directive corporate authority was not evident. But this agency is one of the most successful, serious, creative, effective, least showbizzy agencies in the industry. It is a good example of an organization which manages and sells knowledge: knowledge about advertising, about consumers and about creative craft. The research used critical discourse analysis to explore the ways in which power, authority and professional identity were discursively reproduced in the service of corporate instrumentality. As a real, concrete source of authority and direction, 'management' seemed silent, yet as a discursive construction its controlling presence was psychologically pervasive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2000

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