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'Where Is Your “F”?': Psychological Testing, Communication and Identity Formation in a Multinational Corporation

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Abstract:

The article is based on multi-sited fieldwork in a multinational corporation, where psychological tests were used extensively to facilitate communication and human resource development. The analysis indicates that the test effects were more complex than intended. Their application may be considered as a form of audit that was both individualizing and totalizing. While socio-cultural negotiations reached a level with new common reference points, attention was diverted away from important aspects of the socio-cultural context. Individuals were quick to struggle and assert themselves through the categories of the tests, but at the same time the room for diverse, independent articulations of identity at work seemed to be diminishing. In other words, the application of the tests may have opened some discursive fields, but narrowed others, thus contributing to a form of generification (Errington and Gewertz 2001) and entification (Zubiri 1984) of work identities. These observations give reason to question and continue exploring the effects of psychological typologies in corporate settings.

Keywords: AUDIT; COMMUNICATION; HRM AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING; MANAGEMENT; ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE; WORK IDENTITY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/aia.2012.190106

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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