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Stein, H. Allcorn, S. (2016). A Triptych of Atrocity: Organising Atrocity, Managing and Administering Atrocity, and the Language of Atrocity. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 16(2):181-197.

(2016). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 16(2):181-197


A Triptych of Atrocity: Organising Atrocity, Managing and Administering Atrocity, and the Language of Atrocity

Howard Stein and Seth Allcorn, Ph.D., MBA

This paper approaches organisational atrocity through the metaphor of the triptych, the three-panel painting that has been a part of church altars throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. As we use the image, the three panels or facets of organisational atrocity are (1) the idea, ideology, and affect that underlies atrocity; (2) the planning, administration, and implementation of atrocity; and (3) the language of atrocity. The paper explores the eerie parallels between the genocidal atrocities of the Holocaust and the symbolic murder in organisational downsizing. Examples are provided to illustrate the linkage of the triptych of ideas, administration, and language in both forms of atrocity. Specifically, they illustrate why planners, victims, and survivors of downsizing utilise Holocaust imagery, administrative processes, and language to depict the experience and action of downsizing.

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