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Numericalizing the other: a critical analysis of a strategy discourse in a UK bank

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2016
Issue number4
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)525-549
Publication statusPublished
Early online date30/04/15
Original languageEnglish


This article explores how a strategy discourse in a UK bank reproduced a managerial preoccupation with costs, control and numbers that was grounded in the extant culture. Through engaging with this discourse, strategists displayed numerical ways of thinking, which suggested that they did not ‘see’ those on the receiving end of the strategy as human beings. The article contributes to the strategy literature first by exploring how ‘strategists’ are constituted and how they forge themselves as particular types of subject through participating in strategy discourses. Second, it examines the consequences of numericalization for those on the receiving end of strategic discourses. It is argued that the accountability that numbers seek to generate can undermine accountability, and so numbers are not entirely the servant of strategists or frontline staff but instead reflect and contribute to ongoing workplace struggles. Finally, it is argued that both strategists and academics need to reflect on the discourses that they (we) employ because otherwise we risk further numericalizing the other.