Honorable Surrender: On the Erosion of Resistance in a University Setting

Mats Alvesson, Betina Szkudlarek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


This article addresses the temporality of resistance in the work context. We focus on the challenge of increasingly diminishing professional autonomy in higher education institutions as well as the vulnerability of staff subjected to academic managerialism. A case where a lecturer is exposed to the requirements to revise grading by senior administration is investigated. Power is understood from the “target’s” perspective and viewed as the erosion of resistance. We introduce the concepts honorable surrender and smoothers to capture the process of giving up of resistance. We argue that these concepts are of special significance in autonomy-espousing work contexts where multiplicity of power resources are employed to subordinate employees and influence their professional identities. We contend that de-subjectification is key in understanding the erosion of resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-420
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • careers
  • education
  • power and politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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