Company Towns and Desired Identities: A Case Study of Volkswagen/Wolfsburg

Elham Moonesirust, Andrew D. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


How do people living in a company town come to desire to work for the firm that controls it? Based on an in-depth case study of Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany, we add to extant literature in two ways. First, we show how a company town is constituted through discursive processes of totalization and surveillance, and has some of the characteristics of total institutions. Second we analyse how Wolfsburg’s populace came to desire to work for the organization that dominates it. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of ‘governmentality’ we examine the multiple interlocking discourses by which Volkswagen sought to exert control over Wolfsburgers. The research contribution we make is to demonstrate how desired work identities were disciplined through three sets of overlapping and interleaved discourses centred on the family, the corporation and the town. Desired identities, we argue, are one means by which organizations exercise control over local populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Event2018 Acadamy Of Management Annual Meeting - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201814 Aug 2018


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