Evaluation at work has attracted much criticism and its damaging effects are well known, so why does it continue to gain ground in every field? Evaluation at Work: A Psychoanalytical Critique offers an original answer to this question: evaluation spreads because we want to be evaluated. Developing a critical reflection from a psychoanalytic perspective, it argues that workers are not mere victims of evaluation systems but are complicit in them.
In this fascinating volume, Bénédicte Vidaillet focuses on the aspects of our subjectivity that come into play in evaluation at work —our expectations, desires, need for recognition, our conceptions of ourselves at work, as well as our relationship with others such as colleagues, managers or clients — to explore how evaluation affects us, where it gets its evocative power, and what it stirs within us to make us want it, despite its detrimental effects in its currently practiced form. Chapters draw on real-life examples, case studies from a variety of organizations, and observations from clinical practice, to provide insight into the many mechanisms that have enabled evaluation to spread unimpeded through our subjective complicity in the process, revealing how they came to seem so innocuous.
This book will be of interest to scholars studying the topic of evaluation at work from a critical perspective as well as professionals who use evaluation systems or are under the pressure of evaluation in all sectors and organizations. By exposing the psychological mechanisms that evaluation uses to appeal to us, it gives each of us the tools we need to break free of its grasp.
'Vidaillet takes the critique of the evaluation society to a new level by showing that we cannot understand the evaluation society without attention to the psychic need for evaluation in the subject. We cannot escape the trap of evaluation unless we fundamentally reconsider our own engagement in it. Vidaillet´s analysis is brilliant and provocative. Read it if you dare!' - Peter Dahler-Larsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
'In this timely book, Bénédicte Vidaillet sheds instructive light on an everyday conundrum—why subjection to formal means of performance evaluation is widely dreaded and despised, yet also grudgingly desired. "We complain but we come back for more". Formality removes some of the heat and uncertainty from more direct and personal kinds of appraisal. But compliance with the process invariably increases pressure to raise performance. It is shown how the allure of faux objectivity condemns the evaluated to turn a treadmill that is not of their making but whose unremitting motion can prove hard to resist. Evaluation at Work deserves to be widely read." - Hugh Willmott, Bayes Business School, London, England, and Cardiff Business School, Wales
'As concerns evaluation, the enemy is within us, not outside. Vidaillet’s book opens our eyes and provides the most effective antidote to the metastatic effects of evaluation in the workplace! We are now ready to dismantle the plague of evaluation that limits the individual freedom and undermines the functioning of institutions around the world.' - Davide Borrelli, University Suor Orsola Benincasa of Napoli, Italy
'If most employees believe individual evaluation is inaccurate and detrimental to their work, why do they crave being evaluated? What is the root of our appetite for assessment? Benedicte Vidaillet draws upon psychoanalysis to answer this question and thus sheds new light on a fundamental issue of our times: our contradictory love and hate relationship with the neoliberal system in which we live. This book is not only original and enlightening, it is also wonderfully clear and well written, which is no mean feat given the complexity of the subject matter.' - Olivier Tonneau, University of Cambridge, UK
Table of Contents
Introduction: the ideology of evaluation—inevitable, illusory… but worth it 1. Why we complain about assessment 2. Regular guy, total hero, good loser: what assessment would have us become 3. The unbearable enjoyment of others: stamp it out, or take it for yourself—all thanks to assessment 4. Ridding ourselves of the other through evaluation 5. Why assessment only exacerbates the need for recognition 6. A customer in need of enjoyment 7. The assessment spiral: why we can never escape Conclusion: resisting the siren song of evaluation
About the Author:
Bénédicte Vidaillet is Professor in Work and Organizational Psychology at the Université Paris Est Créteil, France, and a psychoanalyst.