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Knowledge-sharing, control, compliance and symbolic violence

Kamoche, Ken; Kannan, Selvi; Siebers, Lisa Qixun


Professor of Human Resource Management

Selvi Kannan

Lisa Qixun Siebers


Recent developments in control hold that professionals are best managed through normative and concertive as opposed to bureaucratic and coercive mechanisms. This post-structuralist approach appeals to the notion of congruent values and norms and acknowledges the role of individuals’ subjectivity in sustaining professional autonomy. Yet, there remains a risk of over-simplifying the manifestations of such control initiatives. By means of an in-depth case study, this article considers the challenge of implementing a knowledge-sharing portal for a community of R&D scientists through management control initiatives that relied on a blend of presumed ‘peer pressure’ and the rhetoric of ‘facilitation’. Arguing that traditional approaches such as normative/concertive control and soft bureaucracy only partially explain this phenomenon, we draw from Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘symbolic violence’ to interpret a managerial initiative to appropriate knowledge and affirm the structure of social relations through the complicity of R&D scientists. We also examine how the scientists channelled resistance by reconstituting compliance in line with their sense of identity as creators of knowledge.


Kamoche, K., Kannan, S., & Siebers, L. Q. (2014). Knowledge-sharing, control, compliance and symbolic violence. Organization Studies, 35(7),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 2, 2013
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2014
Publication Date Jul 1, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 5, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2018
Journal Organization Studies
Print ISSN 0170-8406
Electronic ISSN 1741-3044
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 7
Keywords Bourdieu, compliance, control, knowledge, resistance, symbolic violence
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


knowledge sharing.pdf (483 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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