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The unspoken side of mutual adjustment : understanding intersubjective negotiation in small professional service firms.

Wapshott, R. and Mallett, O. (2013) 'The unspoken side of mutual adjustment : understanding intersubjective negotiation in small professional service firms.', International small business journal., 31 (8). pp. 978-996.


This article critically analyses intersubjective negotiation in the context of the small firm employment relationship. Such employment relationships are acknowledged as largely ad hoc, contested and negotiated, producing mutual adjustment between owner-managers and employees. It presents detailed qualitative empirical material from three small professional service firms, arguing that explicit instances of formal or informal negotiations cannot be understood as discrete events disassociated from ongoing, everyday intersubjective negotiation. The employment relationship, especially in ambiguity-intensive small professional service firms, draws on the perception of the value or interests of other actors rather than on any direct engagement with them. This intersubjective guesswork underlying mutual adjustment is potentially dysfunctional as outcomes arise that satisfy neither owner-manager nor employee interests. The article suggests that understanding employment relationships in small professional service firms requires a greater focus on individual perceptions and the ways in which their relative positions are structured in intersubjective, mutual (mis)recognition.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Employment relationship, Intersubjectivity, Mutual adjustment, Professional service firms, Small firms.
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Publisher statement:The final definitive version of this article has been published in the journal International small business journal, 31/8, 2014 © The Author(s) by SAGE Publications Ltd at the International small business journal page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Record Created:31 Aug 2012 09:35
Last Modified:03 Jun 2014 12:49

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