In this seminar we address the common but rarely studied phenomenon of organizational complaining. Conceptualising complaints as performative acts that constitute both the complainer and the object(s) of their complaint, the paper investigates how complaining about organizations contribute to their ongoing (re)production.

We study a highly ranked university, where academics complain heavily about managerialism and bureaucracy.

We identify five forms of complaining, with each of these differing in function and organizational consequences.

Perhaps surprisingly, the typical outcomes of organizational complaining are not change but compliance, thus reinforcing rather than challenging existing organizational arrangements. The paper identifies and explains what is referred to as the double-comp bind, where heavy complaining feeds into a high level of compliance. We show how the double-comp bind plays a central role in the production and reproduction of organizations, in terms of identity work and (re)generation of organizational culture.

About Academic Seminars

Our academic seminars are a forum for our academic staff to collaborate, share and discuss relevant research and trends with their peers and broader academic community.


Level 4, Joyce Ackroyd #37, St Lucia Campus
Boardroom (430)