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Leading through fear: emotion, rationality and innovation in a UK manufacturing company

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Many critical and mainstream accounts of innovation present leaders and managers as rational agents who innovate to secure organisational goals such as profitability, productivity and/or control. We draw on a case study of Organisational Innovation (OI) from the UK manufacturing sector to question this assumption of instrumental rationality through exploring the dysfunctional consequences of the use of fear. Using the case study, we explore how the dominance of instrumental rationality is such that actions undertaken in its name can serve, in some circumstances, to ensnare managers and, at times, silence dissent.

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