The focus of this dissertation lies in the complicated power struggle between supplier and client in knowledge work; the orchestration of the collaboration’s interaction process in a socially and politically relevant way; and the construction, management and maintenance of various images of collaboration – “the asymmetrical”, where one of the parties dominates, and “the symmetrical”, where both parties are on equal footing. The dissertation shows when, where, how and why the orchestration of the interaction process works.
In order to answer the research questions, the development of advertising campaigns is examined, creating an example of contemporary work and knowledge work. More particularly, one of Sweden’s larger advertising agencies (Reklambyrån) is examined, when they produce advertising together with three of their clients (Dagligvaran, Kapitalvaran and Klädföretaget). The various types of data material consist of forty-one (41) interviews (or talk about), eighty-six (86) meeting observations (or talk in) and twenty-five (25) shadowings (or practice). The data collection was conducted over a time period of 70 weeks.
The dissertation considers knowledge work in general and advertising production in particular as a balancing act between distance and proximity. One creates advertising, but also – or perhaps mainly? – one manages the relationship with both the co-workers and the counterpart in terms of distance and proximity; with the co-workers in terms of individual-collective and with the counterpart in terms of asymmetrical-symmetrical. The examined work is, as implied in the title of the dissertation, a collaboration between “individualists”, in other words people who maintain an arm’s length between themselves and both their co-workers and their counterpart, at least in theory/talk. A theory/talk that is hard to maintain in practice.
“The individual” in relation to the co-workers and “the asymmetrical” in relation to the counterpart, in other words the distance, is created for legitimacy reasons, whilst “the collective” in relation to the co-workers and “the symmetrical” in relation to the counterpart, in other words the proximity, is created for efficiency reasons. The advertising, in turn, is created in the stress field between these two forces.
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2014.