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Business and Management
Oxford Brookes Business School
Clerici, CLC.G.14, Headington Campus
In this modern day and age, it is surprising that managerialist perspectives, practices and ideas are colonising the study of sexualities in organisation.
A timely intervention into the contemporary vitality of queer theories, Queer Business is an innovative book length exploration of how queer theory has been used in management and organisation studies, with the aim of broadening and deepening queer scholarship in this discipline. Through both scholarly and original empirical research, Rumens also seeks to demonstrate how queer theory has been mobilised in MOS and how it might be advanced in a field where it has yet to become exhausted and clichéd. In particular, this volume shows how scholars can use queer theory concepts to explore how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sexualities and genders are understood and experienced in the workplace.
Challenging notions of LGBT+ inclusivity in the workplace through concepts such as queer liberalism and homonormativity, Queer Business will appeal to scholars, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields such as management and organisation studies, queer studies, gender studies, sexuality studies, organisational theory and cultural studies.
Drawing on historical data largely relating to Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), this article examines the early professionalisation of accountancy as a gendered process. Mobilising Acker’s (1990) theory of the ideal worker, this article highlights articulations of an ideal professional accountant, coded as male and masculine in the gendering of professional skills and knowledge, image management, networking and social class. Additionally, social changes such as WW1 reshaped the masculine nature of the ideal professional accountant in PwC, emphasising a militaristic masculinity, to support the war effort. While women were temporarily employed in accountancy clerical jobs in wartime, this does not appear to have re-gendered PwC as an organisation inclusive of femininity and women. However, it is noted that some middle-class women challenged exclusionary professional practices within accountancy. The implications of the gendered aspects of the professionalisation of accountancy are discussed throughout the article.
This article examines how older gay men practice masculinity in heteronormative organisational settings. Our analysis of in-depth interview data yields two key masculinity practices: maintaining heteronormativity and embodying change. Older gay men’s masculinity practices that conform to the ideals of hegemonic masculinity have the effect of maintaining heteronormativity. Embodying change refers to older gay men’s masculinity practices that leverage accumulated life experiences to negotiate heteronormativity for change, although such agency is constrained by individuals’ material and symbolic commitments to heteronormativity. By delineating these two clusters of practices and exploring the dynamic relationality between individual action and organisational order from a practice-based perspective, we extend the conceptual scope of hegemonic masculinity. Furthermore, by investigating how older gay men navigate ageing and sexuality in organisations, we show the constraining and enabling effects of ageing as a social and embodied process on gay men’s masculinity practices.
Drawing on a high profile case of unequal pay as an illustrative example as well as on recent research, this conceptual paper considers differences and interrelationships between merit and deservingness, where the latter captures how, through appropriate performances, merit is given recognition and value. We propose a performative understanding of deservingness that highlights its gendered and embodied dimensions. Informed by Judith Butler’s account of gender performativity, we show that, while merit may be seen as a relatively fixed set of attributes (qualifications, skill) ‘attached’ to the individual, deservingness captures how, in gendered terms, value and recognition are both claimed and conferred. As we argue, a gendered, deserving subject does not pre-exist but is performatively constituted through embodied practices and performances of what is seen as worthy in a particular time and place.
This article explores how heteronormativity shapes the (re)construction of gay male entrepreneurial identities. Drawing on in-depth interview data and utilising conceptual resources from queer theory, this article traces the effects of heteronormative entrepreneurial discourses, evident in the types of gay male sexualities discursively mobilised by study participants to (re)construct normal gay male entrepreneurial identities. Study data reveal the regulatory and normalising impact of heteronormativity along three discursive themes: entrepreneurial gay masculine identities; the entrepreneurial (gay) ‘family type guy’; and repudiating the feminine in women and other gay men. This article contributes to the limited LGBT entrepreneurship literature, in particular, the scholarship on heteronormativity and entrepreneurial identities, showing how heteronormativity retrenches both the heterosexual/homosexual binary and the male norm at the core of dominant entrepreneurial discourses.
This article aims to inspire international human resource management (IHRM) scholarship that incorporates postcolonial feminist theory, using the under-researched topic of paternalistic leadership and gender to illustrate the opportunities and challenges such an endeavour can present. Paternalistic leadership is an important and widely used indigenous framework for examining leadership in Chinese contexts, while postcolonial feminism holds the capacity to problematise the representation of non-western women in feminist theory as a universal, transhistorical category. As this article demonstrates, postcolonial feminist theory centralises cultural difference in theorising gender, strives toward shattering binaries reproduced by colonialism and imperialism (West/East, Western/Third World Woman) and generates indigenous, localised knowledge on non-western women. Three sites of enquiry are discussed: 1) Chinese feminisms and genders; 2) Chinese cultures and gender norms; 3) Voice, agency and the subaltern woman. This article provides research propositions for IHRM scholars to translate postcolonial femininst theory into research on paternalistic leadership and gender. Concluding, the article outlines implications for practice and sifts the discussion for the future avenues of research it signals.
In organization studies, there is a cleavage in the literature that separates ‘questions’ and ‘questioning’ at a very fundamental philosophical level. On the one hand, the objective notion of ‘questions’ has already been well addressed. On the other hand, the process of ‘questioning’ remains under-researched. Although questioning the process of questioning is challenging, this is precisely where American pragmatism can be helpful. As we explore in this essay, the forward-looking quality of pragmatist inquiry is what motors the process of questioning. Our pragmatist-inflected argument is that questioning does not always have to serve critique and position building in the organization studies field. Rather, questioning out of curiosity can build new dialogue and open up new methodological avenues. This will help change the habitual ways in which we explore ideas, problems and situations in organization studies as well as lead to more democratic forms of organizing.
This article suggests new possibilities for queer theory in management and organization studies. Management and organization studies has tended to use queer theory as a conceptual resource for studying the workplace experience of ‘minorities’ such as gay men, lesbians and those identifying as bisexual or transgender, often focusing on how heteronormativity shapes the discursive constitution of sexualities and genders coded as such. This deployment is crucial and apposite but it can limit the analytical reach of queer theory, neglecting other objects of analysis like heterosexuality. Potentially, MOS queer theory scholarship could be vulnerable to criticism about overlooking queer theory as a productive site for acknowledging both heterosexuality’s coercive aspects and its non-normative forms. The principal contribution of our article is therefore twofold. First, it proposes a queering of queer theory in management and organization studies, whereby scholars are alert to and question the potential normativities that such research can produce, opening up a space for exploring how heterosexuality can be queered. Second, we show how queering heterosexuality can be another site where queer theory and politics come together in the management and organization studies field, through a shared attempt to undermine sexual and gender binaries and challenge normative social relations. The article concludes by outlining the political implications of queering heterosexuality for generating modes of organizing in which heterosexuality can be experienced as non-normative and how this might rupture and dismantle heteronormativity.
Drawing on interview data gathered from 35 gay men in the UK, this article explores how age influences the negotiation of masculinity within gay–straight male workplace friendships. Study findings show that gay–straight workplace friendships between younger men appear to be framed in terms of equality, not homophobia. Older gay men also report similar experiences, some suggesting how these friendships were not possible in their youth. Gay and straight men of a similar age are also united in friendship by their experiences of ageing and its implications for carrying out work. Interview data also reveal how gay–straight male friendships are constrained at work, thus limiting the opportunities for emotional openness and physical tactility. Overall, the study reveals how younger and older gay men, and their straight male friends, variously align themselves to inclusive masculinities within friendship. This article contributes to inclusive masculinity theory by extending the types of contexts currently studied, both relational and work-related, and adding further emphasis to the contextually contingent nature of inclusive masculinities. It also advances the limited literature on gay–straight friendships by highlighting how they might challenge and reshape the heteronormative contours of work contexts.
In recent years, entrepreneurship has been reconceptualised as social change. Understood as such, entrepreneurship can be viewed to disrupt and disturb the social order. We argue in this article that Foucault’s notion of heterotopia and Lacan’s concepts of the real and anxiety help us to conceptualise the disturbing aspect of entrepreneurship as social change and understand why the latter may encounter social resistance. Our contribution to critical entrepreneurship literature is to, first, emphasise that entrepreneurship instigates social change by introducing incongruence and, second, to highlight that this process can be affective: it can create anxiety. This article uses an illustrative historical case example of a Swedish anti-racist commercial magazine (Gringo) to elucidate these points. We conclude by pointing out that anxiety may be necessary for the provocation of social transformation.
This article explores the methodological possibilities that Butler’s theory of performativity opens up, attempting to ‘translate’ her theoretical ideas into research practice. Specifically, it considers how research on organizational subjectivity premised upon a performative ontology might be undertaken. It asks: What form might a Butler-inspired methodology take? What methodological opportunities might it afford for developing self-reflexive research? What political and ethical problems might it pose for organizational researchers, particularly in relation to the challenges associated with power asymmetries, and the risks attached to ‘fixing’ subjects within the research process? The article outlines and evaluates a method described as anti-narrative interviewing, arguing that it constitutes a potentially valuable methodological resource for researchers interested in understanding how and why idealized organizational subjectivities are formed and sustained. It further advances the in-roads that Butler’s writing has made into organization studies, thinking through the methodological and ethical implications of her work for understanding the performative constitution of organizational subjectivities. The aim of the article is to advocate a research practice premised upon a reflexive undoing of organizational subjectivities and the normative conditions upon which they depend. It concludes by emphasizing the potential benefits and wider implications of a ethodologically reflexive undoing of organizational performativity.
This paper is based on a series of ‘anti-narrative’ interviews designed to explore the ways in which lived experiences of age, gender and sexuality are negotiated and narrated within organizations in later life. It draws on Judith Butler’s performative ontology of gender, particularly her account of the ways in which the desire for recognition is shaped by heteronormativity, considering its implications for how we study ageing and organizations. In doing so, the paper develops a critique of the impact of heteronormative life course expectations on the negotiation of viable subjectivity within organizational settings. Focusing on the ways in which ‘chrononormativity’ shapes the lived experiences of ageing within organizations, at the same time as constituting an organizing process in itself, the paper draws on Butler’s concept of ‘un/doing’ in its analysis of the simultaneously affirming and negating organizational experiences of older self-identifying LGBT people. The paper concludes by emphasizing the theoretical potential of a performative ontology of ageing, gender and sexuality for organization studies, as well as the methodological insights to be derived from an ‘antinarrative’ approach to organizational research, arguing for the need to develop a more inclusive politics of ageing within both organizational practice and research.
This paper contributes to a neglected topic area about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people’s employment experiences in UK business and management schools. Drawing on queer theory to problematize essentialist notions of sexuality, we explore how gay male academics negotiate and challenge discourses of heteronormativity within different work contexts. Using in-depth interview data, the paper shows that gay male academics are continually constrained by heteronormativity in constructing viable subject positions as ‘normal’, often having to reproduce heteronormative values that squeeze opportunities for generating non-heteronormative ‘queer’ sexualities, identities and selves. Constructing a presence as an openly gay academic can invoke another binary through which identities are (re)constructed: as either ‘gay’ (a cleaned up version of gay male sexuality that sustains a heteronormative moral order) or ‘queer’ (cast as radical, disruptive and sexually promiscuous). Data also reveal how gay men challenge organizational heteronormativities through teaching and research activities, producing reverse discourses and creating alternative knowledge/power regimes, despite institutional barriers and risks of perpetuating heteronormative binaries and constructs. Study findings call for pedagogical and research practices that ‘queer’ (rupture, destabilize, disrupt) management knowledge and the heterosexual/homosexual binary, enabling non-heteronormative voices, perspectives, identities and ways of relating to emerge in queer(er) business and management schools.
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