Dr Birgit den Outer

PhD (Oxford Brookes University, 2023); MA in Coaching and Mentoring (Oxford Brookes University, 2009); MA Cultural Anthropology/Non-Western Sociology (University of Amsterdam, 1991)

Senior Lecturer

Oxford Brookes Business School

Role

I am a senior lecturer at the Oxford Brookes Business School and the subject coordinator for the MA/MSc HRM Programmes. My core knowledge areas are:

  • Organisation studies: organisations and identity; precarity and private security;
  • Sociology of work: employability and older workers and careers, student possible selves; sustainability and worker identities
  • Learning and teaching; pedagogic practice: intellectual challenge in business school education; assessment literacy and standards; coaching and mentoring

I currently research private security from an Organisation Studies perspective. I look at how professional identity formation processes at the macro and micro level are related that create particular material and discursive effects. I am interested in private security organisations as places of work for employees (women in particular), issues of professionalization, and perspectives of security more broadly that shape everyday working lives.

Teaching and supervision

Courses

Modules taught

MBA:

  • Critical Approaches to Business
  • Dissertations
  • Residential Workshop II
  • Supervision

MA/MSc HRM:

  • Understanding and Researching Organisations
  • Researching Organisations; Supervision

Business and Management:

  • Work, Employment, and Globalisation

Supervision

I supervise students on the MA/MSc HRM programmes and on the MBA

Research

In worlds of work, developing professional identity involves a complex interlacing of cultural resources. Workers can draw on professional domains with particular inclusion and exclusion mechanisms and social constructions of professional expertise to live lives with meaning and purpose. However, what happens if professional identity development occurs in industries where the professional domain is contested, ill-defined, and in flux? What if contested narratives inform professionalization, construed as identity development at the sector level, and issues of legitimacy seem never quite resolved?

Situated in an organisational studies perspective, my research investigates narratives of professional identity in UK-based private security industry. Contested yet increasingly legitimised, the UK private security industry (PSI) is under-researched as a site of meaning. Informed by the literatures on professionalization, crafting of culturally appropriate selves, and identity and identity work, the research considers the conditions, contradictions, and tensions that structure both the collective and the self in labour markets increasingly characterised by precarity. Using a situational analysis approach, a postmodern version of grounded theory, it analyses curated stakeholder texts and also explores accounts security workers give of themselves to make sense of their working environments.

It is proposed that precaritising conditions - both discursive and material - that organise much of private security work offer fertile ground for the development of alternative narrations of professional selves. These alternative professional selves can be construed as a response to a breakdown of recognition by inadequate (customer services), infelicitous (hyper-masculine, dirty), and negative or empty (not-criminal) identities of a previous horizon of normativity. Together, they mitigate particular negative effects such as invisibility. These identity development processes differ from seeking to be a professional. The notion of professionality - giving account of oneself and seeking recognition in precarious worlds of work - advances an understanding of drivers of identity work in the development of culturally appropriate, professional selves

Publications

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Professional information

Conferences

  • Den Outer, B (2021) Delivering security service: ‘professionality’, precarity, and identity in the private security industry, submitted to the British Sociology Association conference Work, Employment and Society 2021: Connectedness, Activism and Dignity at work in a Precarious Era, August 2021.
  • Den Outer, B. and Handley, K (2018) Older Workers & Potentiality in the Knowledge Economy, paper presented at the Work, Employment & Society Conference, Wednesday 12 - Friday 14 September 2018, Belfast
  • Den Outer, B (2018) Female employees in private security organisations: identity construction in a stigmatised industry, paper presented at the workshop ‘Gender in conflict, violence and security’, University of Birmingham on 28 April 2018. 
  • Den Outer, B. (2018) Female employees in private security organisations: identity construction in a stigmatised industry? Paper presented at the EDAMBA Summer School, Athens, July 2018.
  • Koning, J and den Outer, B (2016) The road to silence: sustainability discourses at work, paper to be presented at  12th International Conference on Organizational Discourse, Amsterdam 13-15 July, 2016.
  • Den Outer, B and J. Koning (2016) The sites of silence: sustainability discourses at work, paper presented at  International Research Conference, Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University 16 June 2016.
  • den Outer, B. and Price, M. (2015) 'Discourses of assessment: learning from language to develop assessment literacy'. Paper presented at the Society for Research into Higher Education conference, Newport, December.
  • den Outer, B. (2014) 'Skilful compliance or critical stance? Assessment literacy in academic communities'. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Madrid, August.
  • den Outer, B. and Hannam, S. (2014) 'Assessment literacy in international contexts: putting the theory into practice'. Paper presented at the Inform conference 2014, Canterbury, July.
  • den Outer, B. (2014) 'External examiner standards close up'. Paper presented at the Higher Education Close Up,, Lancaster, July.
  • den Outer, B. (2014) 'The discourse of assessment literacy: our turn to language to explore academic membership'. Paper presented at the Oxford Brookes International Conference, Oxford, June.
  • den Outer, B. (2013) 'Dear Diary? An assessment of the audio diary as research method'. Paper presented at the Oxford Brookes-Burgundy Research Conference, Dijon, June.
  • den Outer, B. and Price, M. (2012) 'Assessment literacy in university students: what is it and how is it developed?'. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction Conference, Brussels, August.
  • Price, M., O'Donovan, B., Rust, C., Handley, K. and Outer, B. d. (2012) 'Assessment literacy – a perspective on the student role in assessment for learning'. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction Conference, Brussels, August.
  • Price, M., Handley, K. and Outer, B. d. (2012) 'Learning to mark: exemplars, dialogue and participation in assessment communities'. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction Conference, Brussels, August.
  • Den Outer, B. and Price, M. (2011) 'Assessment literacy in academic communities: what is it and how can it be developed?'. Paper presented at the Society for Research into Higher Education, Newport, December.
  • Price, M. and Outer, B. d. (2011) 'Investigating assessment literacy in Oxford Brookes University's learning communities: what is it and how can it be developed?'. Paper presented at the Brookes Learning & Teaching Conference, Oxford, June.
  • Handley, K. and den Outer, B. (2010) 'From clones to heretics?: an investigation of how new academic staff come to understand and participate in the assessment practices of a UK Business School'. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association conference, Warwick, September.
  • Den Outer, B. d. and Handley, K. (2010) 'Standards, Situation and Self-Criticality: Exploring situational analysis, grounded theory after the postmodern turn, to enhance reflexive practice in higher education'. Paper presented at the Higher Education Close Up 5, Lancaster, UK, July.
  • Den Outer, B., Handley, K. and Price, M. (2010) 'Staff, Standards and Situation: Using situational analysis as method of inquiry on tutor experiences of assessment standards in higher education'. Paper presented at the Higher Education Close-up 5: Questioning Theory-Method Relations in Higher Education, Lancaster University, July.
  • den Outer, B. (2010) 'Coaching and Cross-Cultural Transitions: a narrative inquiry approach'. Paper presented at the 6th Annual Coaching and Mentoring Research Conference, Oxford, UK, April.
  • Handley, K. and den Outer, B. (2009) 'Staff, Standards and Situation: Tutor Experiences of Assessment and Belonging in Academic Communities using Situational Analysis'. Paper presented at the Improving Student Learning Conference, London, September.
  • Handley, K. and den Outer, B. (2009) 'Staff, Standards and Situation: The Tutor Perspective of Assessment and Belonging in Academic Communities using Situational Analysis'. Paper presented at the EARLI (European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction), Amsterdam, August.

Further details

Education

  • MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Amsterdam
  • MA in Coaching and Mentoring Practice (distinction), Oxford Brookes University.
  • Post-graduate certificate in Social Science Research Methods, Oxford Brookes University.

Areas of expertise

I have a great interest in, and experience of, research methodology as a critical and philosophical inquiry, and specifically in a number of qualitative data collection and analysis methods, such as maps, audio-diaries, interviews, focus groups, surveys, images, grounded theory, situational analysis, (linguistic) ethnography, and (critical) discourse analysis.