Values at Work

Ambivalent Situations and Human Resource Embarrassment

in Social Analysis
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The Manchester School brought with it a fundamental methodological heritage that continues to be generally relevant today and may be particularly pertinent to the study of business organizations, a field often described by narrow instrumentalism and an implicitly management-centric perspective. In this article, through an ethnography of the Human Resource Department of the Danish firm Bang & Olufsen, I argue that the legacy of the Manchester School can be used as an analytical vantage point to open up a rich field of inquiry. I further suggest that we need to move beyond both managerialism and Manchester in order to analyze adequately the pervasive ambiguity in the experience of consultants working as middlemen in value-based corporations.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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