Imagined Futures: A Study of Work-Related Uncertainty in the Corporate Environment

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för etnologi

Abstract: This is a study of uncertainty in the corporate setting from the perspective of individual employees. While some interviewees talk about accepting uncertainty as an unavoidable state, others tell stories of dread and anguish, associated with instability in the work environment. This research shows how uncertainty as a stress inducing factor can affect both productivity and employee wellbeing, by reducing loyalty and creating a disconnect between individuals and the organizations they work in. This thesis uses as empirical material a collage of intimate accounts of uncertainty at work from internationals who have worked, or are still working, for corporate companies, at different hierarchical levels. A phenomenological framework is used to analyze individual narratives and to account for the intertwining, embodied experiences that accompany perceiving, feeling, and enacting uncertainty. Their narratives are strung together in order to observe how uncertainty manifests both in the individual inner worlds as well as in concrete situations. The relational space between human and organizational bodies is analyzed to find ways in which uncertainty can be integrated in the organizational culture in order to create a supportive environment that accommodates both business growth and employee work-life quality.

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