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Neo-colonial dynamics in global professional service firms: a periphery perspective

Journal article
Authors Zehra Sayed
Henrik Agndal
Published in Culture and Organization
ISSN 1475-9551
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Business Administration, Accounting
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Keywords Postcolonial theory, neo-colonial (neocolonial), Reuters, journalism, global professional service firm
Subject categories Business Administration


This article analyses neo-colonial dynamics at peripheral units of a Western global professional service firm. Drawing on postcolonial theory, an empirical study at global news agency Reuters’ subsidiaries in Mumbai and Bangalore shows how socio-ideological and technocratic control mechanisms allow subsidiary workers to elevate their status, while still cementing their role as dominated in the global hierarchy and silencing any resistance. Thus, on the one hand, it might appear that the global service firm provides periphery units the opportunity to become equals of core units, representing a ‘nurturing’ role achieved by instilling aspirational values and shaping imaginations. On the other hand, coercive and universalising routines such as performance assessments highlight the ambivalent nature of global firm initiatives to incorporate the periphery on an equal footing with core units, demonstrating the countervailing nature of contemporary power relations.

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