The productivity imperative: Time management after the organization

See the video of the talk introduced by co-head of lab Marisa Cohn

This talk explores the emergence of productivity as a way of thinking about workplace performance at the turn of the last century and its ongoing consequences for the administration of labor in corporations today. This brief history of time management offers a reminder of the philosophical underpinnings for productivity, a reappraisal of its original premises, and a set of provocations regarding its ongoing status and relevance in the modern workplace. At a macro-level, productivity is a form of economic modeling that informs enterprise forecasts and broader measures of national efficiency. But as Gregg’s previous research has shown (Gregg 2011), for knowledge workers, productivity is also experienced as an archly personal concern. To be productive is to display one of the consummate skills of the corporate professional: the accomplishment of time mastery.

The productivity imperative is an intimate interpellation, the cumulative effect of resourcing decisions that urge employees to “do more with less” and “work smarter, not harder.” Yet there is a significant contradiction in the pressure to be productive in light of the decline in average salaries, the dwindling supply of secure, stable jobs and the threat of office automation. In the face of these overlapping trends, the practice of productivity is a distracting postsecular pursuit propagated by corporations to accommodate and cathect the diverse motivations of today’s globally distributed employees.


Melissa Gregg PhD is a Principal Engineer in Business Client Strategy at Intel Corporation. Her books include Work’s Intimacy (Polity 2011), The Affect Theory Reader (Duke 2010) and Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices (2006). For April-May she is Visiting Fellow at the Pufendofr Institute, Lund University.


The talk is free and everyone is welcome
Event on Facebook
Time: May 23. from 13:00-14:00
Place: Auditorium 3
IT-University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaardsvej 7
DK-2300 Copenhagen S