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Nicole Aubert is an Emeritus Professor in the Strategy, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Department at the ESCP Europe Paris campus. She is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and holds a Master in Law and a Master in Clinical Psychology. She earned her Doctorate in Organizational Sciences from the University Paris IX Dauphine. She also holds an accreditation to supervise research.
She has been a professor at ESCP Europe since 1985.
Her research work concerns the links between management types and individual real-lifes in enterprises, the human cost of performance and related pathologies, the impact of new relationships to time (urgency, immediateness,…) on working contexts and on behaviours characterizing current societies.
More broadly, her recent work explores the hypermodern dimension of the society and changes affecting individual identities.
Violence of hyper-modern times and new kinds of pathologies
The purpose of this research is to understand the relationships between the features of the hypermodern society and the types of pathologies associated to it. Globalization and the generalized economic flexibility coming with it, as well as a new relation to time based on urgency and immediateness, have led to a society demanding an extreme reactivity and a permanent adaptability. In this context “durable” relations between people have been replaced by “liquid” and ephemeral ones and, as a consequence, the relationship to oneself is focused on an obligation of surpassing of oneself and hyper-performance. Individuals should be in the “too much” for avoiding being in the “nothing” or the “void”. They should run quicker and quicker for avoiding being in the economic non existence, leading to the inexistence of oneself. Hypermodern pathologies are therefore those the hyper functioning of the self, leading to a breaking of the self. The individual does not find anymore a space for distancing him from the situation he has to cope with. Then he has only a possibility of brutal disconnection to break an infernal circle. The recent trend of suicides in the working places is a sign of the violence of hyper-modern times.
Visibility of oneself and “ego” society (Research conducted with Claudine Haroche)
Being visible is one of the most prominent features of current western societies. While in the past hiding the inner part of oneself (the privacy) was the rule, it seems necessary today to exhibit it in order to exist. Being socially invisible means having no social, as well as psychological, existence. So, in order to exist, there is a need for the individual to show continuously signs and images to be considered and valued. This pressure for being visible seems to lead to radically new modes of life, thought, perception, social relations and self understanding. These trends seem to lead to a superficial life, poor critical thinking, and a shrinking imagination space of individuals. Why this obligation of visibility has become so important? What are the consequences for the different aspects of life?
Exist or survive?
In the decades of eighties and nineties, the ethics of excellence in enterprise management had been the moral basis of a system aiming at the totality of a person, mobilizing intensively psyches, capturing individual desires for success and career, soliciting passion for work, with a continuous control of staff’s adhesion to the enterprise values. In pushing people to think that by working for the enterprise, they were working for themselves, there has been a coupling between professional and personal requirements, and the enterprise appeared as mediating individual destinies, making of self development, being a true object of love, and at the end the only instrument able to fulfill the need for immortality of oneself. This type of affective investment does not seem anymore at work. Since the mid nineties, the acceleration of globalization has destroyed the ideological dressing of the search of excellence, unveiling the true violence of economic relations. Managerial ideologies based on values and feelings are no more available while an intense competition focuses on profitability and performance requirements, leaving aside the notion of attachment to the enterprise or the sense of a meaningful mission. Having to react more and more quickly with no more time for reflecting, it doesn’t seem possible to exist at work, i.e. to access at the possibility of evolving to an upper level of life (ex-sistere), and individuals seem to be reduced to only “function”, even more simply try to survive economically, as well as psychologically?