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‘A deeply troubled organization’: Organizational satire in the BBC’s W1A comedy series


  • Siebert, Sabina


This paper analyses the ways in which a media organization implicated in a series of reputational scandals represents its own management in a comedy series. The organization in question is the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and the comedy series is W1A, a mockumentary commissioned and screened by the BBC in 2014–17. Firstly, I discuss the ways in which W1A as a ‘text’ uses satirical devices to ridicule its own management as well as management fads and fashions. Secondly, I analyse W1A as the ‘intertext’, and consider the satirical representations of management in W1A against the backdrop of the BBC’s reputational scandals. I put forward an interpretation that the intertextual references in the comedy series break down the distance between ‘us’ and ‘the troubled organization’. I also argue that intertextual reading of the series (e.g. the analysis of allusions, cameo appearances, and parallels with the real BBC) throws an entirely different light on organizational wrongdoing, opening new possibilities for organizational reintegration and the repair of broken trust. Not only does the reading of W1A change when the audience considers what is happening in the real BBC, but also our interpretation of what is happening in the BBC may change when we watch W1A.

Suggested Citation

  • Siebert, Sabina, 2019. "‘A deeply troubled organization’: Organizational satire in the BBC’s W1A comedy series," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 56-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:35:y:2019:i:1:p:56-63
    DOI: 10.1016/j.scaman.2018.08.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barbara Czarniawska & Carl Rhodes, 2006. "Strong Plots: Popular Culture in Management Practice and Theory," Chapters, in: Pasquale Gagliardi & Barbara Czarniawska (ed.), Management Education and Humanities, chapter 12, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Mick Marchington & Adrian Wilkinson & Peter Ackers & John Goodman, 1993. "The Influence of Managerial Relations on Waves of Employee Involvement," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 553-576, December.
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