Title: The human touch versus 'silver-handedness': the importance of the haptic in organisational life

Authors: Ann Rippin

Addresses: School of Economics Finance and Management, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1TN, UK

Abstract: This paper takes the little known fairy story, 'The handless maiden', as a starting point to consider the role of touch in organisations. In this story, a young woman has her own hands cut off and replaced with custom-made silver ones. The paper considers the notion of 'silver-handedness', that is, work in organisations which replaces basic human touch and relatedness with a way of dealing with the world through sterile and sanitised rulebooks, logic, and algorithms. The paper goes on to consider the impact of this loss of touch on organisations. It draws on the work of Johnson (1993) and Estés (1995) in interpreting the story from a psychological position to look at the consequences of neglecting the haptic, both literally and figuratively in organisational practices. It ends with some optimistic speculations about the possibility of restoring human touch to the processes of organising.

Keywords: human touch; haptics; feel; organising; narrative; stories; silver-handedness; fairy tales; feminist writing; gender; rulebooks; logic; algorithms; loss of touch; organisational life.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2013.057401

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2013 Vol.5 No.4, pp.357 - 368

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 29 Oct 2013 *

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