Rethinking Organizational & Managerial Communication from Feminist Perspectives
Publication Year: 2000
This book reconsiders organizational and managerial communication theories, research, and practice from a feminist standpoint. It looks at theoretical analyses that reconceptualize and extend boundaries in our thinking about work and organizing processes; presents women's voices through interview excerpts, poems, diary entries, and stories and explores the ways in which these concrete details of ordinary lives represent missing facets of our organizational and managerial communication work; and contains chapters that rewrite organizational and managerial constructs.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Part I: Confronting our Past
- Chapter 1: Communication, Organization, and the Public Sphere: A Feminist Perspective
- Chapter 2: Between the Generalized and the Concrete Other: Approaching Organizational Ethics from Feminist Perspectives
- Chapter 3: Organizational Socialization: A Feminist Standpoint Approach
- Chapter 4: Rethinking Negotiation: Feminist Views of Communication and Exchange
Part II: Rethinking Present Processes
- Chapter 5: Revisioning Control: A Feminist Critique of Disciplined Bodies
- Chapter 6: Walking the High Wire: Leadership Theorizing, Daily Acts, and Tensions
- Chapter 7: A Feminist Reframing of Stress: Rose's Story
Part III: Authoring our Future
Copyright © 2000 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Main entry under title:
Rethinking organizational and managerial communication from feminist perspectives / [edited by] Patrice M. Buzzanell.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
Rev. papers presented at the 1996 National Communication Association conference, held in San Diego, Calif.
ISBN 0-7619-1278-9 (cloth: alk. paper) — ISBN 0-7619-1279-7 (pbk.: alk. paper)
I. Communication in organization—Congresses. 2. Communication in management—Congresses. 3. Feminist theory—Congresses. 4. Women in communication—Congresses. 5. Women—Communication—Congresses. 6. Communication—Sex differences—Congresses I. Buzzanell, Patrice M.
HD30.3 R475 2000
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Acquiring Editor Margaret H. Seawell
Editorial Assistant: Sandra Krumholz
Production Editor: Astrid Virding
Editorial Assistant: Victoria Cheng
Typesetter: Tina Hill
Indexer: Cristina Haley
Cover Designer: Candice Harman
To my parents, Francis G. and Marie J. Buzzanell, and my siblings, Charles A. Buzzanell, M.D., and Doreen Buzzanell Koehler.[Page vi]
This edited book began with an invitation to submit a book prospectus on organizational communication for a possible feminist series with Sage. Sonja Foss requested works that could contribute to a more holistic understanding of specific areas within communication through feminist analyses. Her invitation prompted me to begin a discussion with several feminist organizational communication scholars about how different theories, research, and practices could be reconsidered from multiple feminisms. These scholars enthusiastically responded to my request that they participate in a 1996 National Communication Association (NCA; then called the Speech Communication Association) conference panel held in San Diego, California. They each identified an area in organizational and managerial communication studies that they believed could be enhanced through feminist analyses. Our NCA panel was a well-attended (beyond our expectations) and very encouraging beginning to this edited volume.
After the conference, the authors revised their conference presentations into draft chapters that were then reviewed by feminist researchers, non-feminist organizational and managerial communication experts, and myself. What emerged is an edited volume that offers a counterpoint to the ordinary ways in which organizational and managerial communication researchers have approached topics such as socialization, ethics, and negotiation. As such, our chapters in Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives intend to critique and supplement [Page x]existing approaches with alternative insights, practices, and research agendas.
Our chapters are not as much about “women's issues” as about the ways that conventional approaches often exclude the concerns, values, and life experiences voiced by members of traditionally underrepresented groups. Our hope is that, within this volume, the reanalysis of some aspects of organizational and managerial communication will stimulate greater thinking about how organizing itself can be gendered and exclusionary and about how we (as researchers and organization members) can prompt continued change toward greater equality, dignity, and justice for women and for men (Buzzanell, 1995, 1999). As M. G. Fine (1993) argues,
A feminist perspective tells us why we study organizational communication—to create organizations that allow all people to express fully their human potential, and that allow them a genuine and free voice rather than a voice constrained by false ideology. A feminist perspective rejects research that is intended to further the economic goals of the organization without regard to the well-being of the people who constitute the organization, (p. 132)
In short, feminist approaches to organizational and managerial communication are grounded in the belief that we can create an equitable and ethical vision for organizational lives and processes.
Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives continues the ongoing feminist critique of traditional organizational and organizational communication theory and research (e.g., Bullis, 1993; Buzzanell, 1994, 1999; Calás & Smircich, 1996; Fine, 1993; Marshall, 1993; Mumby, 1996, 1998). As our field has progressed from a variable analytic sex/gender difference approach to a more complex and situated understanding of gendered processes, we have seen feminist reanalyses of phenomena such as diversity (e.g., Allen, 1995a), bounded rationality/emotionality (e.g., Mumby & Putnam, 1992), ethics (Mattson & Buzzanell, 1999), and pay for (house)work (e.g., Clair & Thompson, 1996).
Just as these trends have emerged in gendered organizing, we can see related themes reflected in this volume. The first commonality among the chapter authors is their desire to suffuse, rather than insert, in their writings what has been excluded from traditional organizational and managerial communication: namely, the complexities of sex and gender, race and ethnicity, class, and sexual-social orientation. In this way, they delve into taken-for-granted assumptions that expose invisible gendered relations. Second, the authors ground their feminist analyses in processes rather than in singular aspects of organizing, sense making, and communicating. Not only do they focus on sites where multiple feminisms offer distinctive contributions to knowledge and practice, but they also note where and how change can be [Page xi]enacted. Third, the authors retain the centrality of communication as the fundamental organizing process that produces and reproduces both inequity and justice in daily life. In all cases, the authors eschew the metaphor of organization as container by blending concerns of work and family, organization and environment, public and private, and inclusion and exclusion (see Putnam, Phillips, & Chapman, 1996, for an overview of metaphors). Finally, the authors envision their chapters as works in progress. They may vary in style, but each chapter explores and stimulates dialogue on some concerns rather than providing a comprehensive or best analysis of issues.
These themes of feminist organizational communication scholarship and of Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives have helped us create a book that can serve both research and pedagogical purposes. Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives provides critical and heuristic analyses of organization by outstanding researchers. As a research tool, this book can assist graduate students and professors in organizational and managerial communication, women's studies, organizational behavior, organization theory, and organizational sociology. These materials can be used for reference or be incorporated into classrooms (e.g., as the main text, a special topics course reading, or a supplementary text that extends—and often counters—the teachings of traditional organizational and managerial communication textbooks), particularly in graduate seminars or upper-division undergraduate courses. At present, there is no other edited or authored feminist book that can be used as a companion to advanced undergraduate and graduate texts and handbooks of organizational communication.
Because of our research and teaching goals, most chapters begin with either references to or critiques of literature in specific areas of organizational and managerial communication, such as chaos theory, leadership, or careers. Sometimes this overview is relatively brief, but readers will find that the initial combination of mainstream and alternative thinking about particular communication phenomena enables authors and readers to revisit issues, examine changes in scholarship and practice, and offer feminist analyses and change initiatives. Readers also will note that there has been no attempt to cover all possible topics or to use every feminist perspective. There have been recent overviews of organizational communication: Jablin and Putnam's (in press) The New Handbook of Organizational Communication and Putnam et al.'s (1996) chapter in The Handbook of Organizational Studies. There have also been refereed articles and yearbook chapters that have provided broad feminist overviews of organizational communication and organization theory (e.g., Bullis, 1993; Buzzanell, 1994, 1999; Calás & Smircich, 1996; Fine, 1993; Marshall, 1993; Mumby, 1996). Rather than publish another broad overview or include all feminisms, we intended to provide an in-depth feminist treatment of some major issues.[Page xii]
There are many individuals who deserve acknowledgment in this preface. Each chapter lists reviewers who commented on earlier drafts. I have not repeated their names here but they deserve (and have) my undying gratitude. Their enthusiasm for this project and detailed comments for individual chapters are greatly appreciated. In addition, I would like to thank Sonja Foss, Julia Wood, and Linda Putnam, and the members of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG) for their support and insights over the years. In addition, Erin Smith and Judi Dallinger helped with text-reference checks—Judi and I sat on the airport floor before our flight from an OSCLG conference in Maine checking off references.
I also thank the fabulous editors and production staff at Sage, particularly Margaret Seawell and Marquita Flemming whose humor and warmth have made this process and journal editing so very enjoyable.
Finally, I would like to thank my partner (Steve Wilson) and my six children (Brendan C. Sheahan, Sheridan A. Sheahan, Ashlee M. Sheahan, Lisette M. Sheahan, Annie Grace Sheahan, and Robyn F. Wilson) for their love and ability to always draw me back to what matters most in life.
This book is dedicated to my parents, Francis G. and Marie J. Buzzanell, and my siblings, Charles A. Buzzanell, MD and Doreen Buzzanell Koehler.
Introduction: In Medias Res[Page xiii]
Our first chapter begins “in the middle of things.” The chapters in this book continue the current trend of rethinking organizational and managerial communication from critical, particularly feminist, approaches. In 1993, Sheryl Perlmutter Bowen and Nancy Wyatt published an edited book, Transforming Visions: Feminist Critiques in Communication Studies, that focused on how feminisms could prompt scholars to pose research questions and use methods different from those conventionally employed in the primary areas of the communication discipline (e.g., performance studies, interpersonal communication, and organizational communication). Until Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives, there has not been a single organizational communication volume similar to Bowen and Wyatt's (1993) project. Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives is designed to fill this gap and is expected to roughly coincide with the publication of The New Handbook of Organizational Communication (Jablin & Putnam, in press).
Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives focuses attention on feminist approaches to some organizational communication issues. As such, it begins in medias res and contributes to the ongoing dialogue about reframing communication to better incorporate diverse perspectives and members. This edited book is not intended to be a [Page xiv]comprehensive treatment of current organizational communication issues. Rather, our chapters delve into specific topics and provide frameworks and analyses that could be useful for additional feminist organizational communication critiques. I see these chapters as illuminating traditional organizational and managerial communication work. Like Western medieval religious documents in which the pictures told stories both separate from and coinciding with the words, our chapters add to the conventional text by highlighting emotions, embodied experience, and standpoints of traditionally under-represented groups. Our work does not intend to dismantle the past but to augment the rich scholarly tradition of our discipline.
There are three main sections in Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives:Part I, “Confronting Our Past”; Part II, “Rethinking Present Processes”; and Part III, “Authoring Our Future.” The sections progress from theoretical analyses that reconceptualize and extend boundaries in our thinking about work and organizing processes; through the use of marginalized voices to question ordinary acts, identities, and critiques of organizational constructs; to the incorporation of difference in such a way that questions and proposes concrete remedies for those micropractices and structures that (re)construct injustice. Each chapter within these three parts is a self-contained feminist analysis of some aspect of organizational life.Part I
The four chapters in Part I, “Confronting Our Past,” discuss themes of binary oppositions, exclusion, contradictions, and power in organizational and managerial communication literature. Each proposes an alternative view of public-private discourse, stakeholder ethics, socialization processes, or negotiation by contrasting traditional approaches with feminist values.
In Chapter 1, “Communication, Organization, and the Public Sphere: A Feminist Perspective,” Mumby returns to some of the foundations of the field to describe the ways in which traditional conceptualizations of the public sphere in democratic institutions are linked to individuals' rhetorical effectiveness and identities. Mumby proposes that the public-private issues from a critical feminist approach are how the relationship between the public and private spheres is articulated discursively and how this articulation process (re)produces power imbalances and/or creates opportunities for resistance and transformation. Opportunities for individuals to make their arguments public depend on availability, resources, and ideological associations. These opportunities assume a reified social structure in which members of marginalized groups are restricted because they voice competing interests and needs.[Page xv]
Mumby defines the public sphere as “a discursively constructed space for argument in which different interest groups compete to articulate conflicting worldviews,” and he argues for a multiplicity of overlapping public spheres. By using feminist analysis to critique binary thinking and to propose action that can eliminate the oppression of women (and others), Mumby illuminates the complexities within and between spheres. If public spheres are contested sites, then organizational and managerial communication researchers can reframe the public sphere to open possibilities for participatory exchanges. This means that forms of discourse and knowledge traditionally associated with different spheres (e.g., the private sphere and personal opinion, and the public sphere and social knowledge) can no longer be considered legitimate, can no longer serve dominant interests, and can no longer limit possibilities for dissent and alternative views. A feminist articulation of participatory democracy requires: admission of social inequities; further development of discursive spaces in which women renegotiate identities (i.e., spaces to formulate “oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and needs”; Fraser, 1990–1991, p. 67); and problematizing what “counts” as public and private matters. Through a critical feminist analysis of public-private relationships, Mumby exposes the “contradictions between the rhetoric of democracy and enfranchisement, on the one hand, and the reality of social, political, and economic inequality, on the other.”
Haas and Deetz also examine conditions necessary for participatory exchange. In Chapter 2, “Between the Generalized and the Concrete Other: Approaching Organizational Ethics From Feminist Perspectives,” they claim that multiple-stakeholder models can address the complexities of varied political interests and values that need representation in internal corporate decision making.
They address two ethical concerns: the implementation of procedures to identify stakeholders' interests and values, and the implementation of procedures to ensure that stakeholders' interests and values are represented in corporate decision-making processes. They use Benhabib's (1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992) feminist perspective on ethics to extend Habermas's (1973, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993) theory of communicative action, discourse ethics, and his description of the ideal speech situation. Specifically, Benhabib contends that generalized and concrete other standpoints operate as moral orientations that reflect binary thinking (e.g., autonomy/nurturance, public/private, independence/interdependence, commonality/individuality, impartiality/connection, universalistic norms/contextually sensitive criteria, and “ethic of justice and rights”/“ethic of care and responsibility”). Benhabib (1992) requires the use of both standpoints simultaneously in moral conversation to transcend dualities. The objective of moral conversation is the willingness to engage in discussion that can affect understanding and, perhaps, consensus.[Page xvi]
Although Benhabib (1992) argues that moral conversation does not require copresence because individuals can have an “imaginary dialogue” with others, Haas and Deetz believe that an “actual dialogue” among participants—even if participants are not in the same spatiotemporal location—is necessary for an ethical stakeholder model of internal corporate decision making. Their reasoning is that management often is so isolated from corporate stakeholders that it lacks the imaginary resources to adequately represent divergent interests. They suggest some preliminary applications of their theorizing to corporate decision-making processes but caution that their ethical ideal may be difficult to pursue in practice.
Chapter 3 also addresses ways to include marginalized voices in our theorizing. Rather than reframing public-private to incorporate discourse previously belonging exclusively to one sphere (Mumby) or establishing conditions necessary for the inclusion of disparate stakeholder interests through the use of concrete and generalized others (Haas & Deetz), Bullis and Stout argue that greater attention to class and race (“Both go unmentioned and are thereby erased”), among other contextualizing processes and outcomes, can help researchers better understand oppression, resistance, and change. In “Organizational Socialization: A Feminist Standpoint Approach,” they critique the usual socialization assumptions to demonstrate how feminist organizational and managerial communication researchers can enlarge traditional emphases. In general, researchers have most often studied socialization strategies and tactics, newcomers' sense-making and information-seeking strategies, and communication processes. Bullis and Stout position standpoint feminisms as a means of advocating “oppositional, politically conscious understandings with the hope that such understandings provide resources for a critique of domination as well as change.”
Bullis and Stout suggest several possible lines of inquiry. First, communication researchers can explore the meanings of organizational boundaries and the ways in which containment metaphors maintain dominant/subordinate relationships. Second, by focusing on the variability of experiences that are inadequately represented by phase models and trajectories, feminist scholars may better depict the experiences of those who otherwise might be considered “outliers.” Finally, researchers can question the assumption that individuals and organizations mutually influence each other. They conclude with a review of published work that can serve as exemplars for how organizational and managerial communication theory and methods can be changed.
The final chapter in Part I displays how negotiation and bargaining can be changed. In Chapter 4, “Rethinking Negotiation: Feminist Views of Communication and Exchange,” Putnam and Kolb argue that distributive, integrative, and principled negotiation and bargaining are gendered because they privilege masculine characteristics of exchange over feminine qualities of connectedness and co-construction. To develop an alternative approach, they [Page xvii]highlight normative aspects of the normative negotiation model and contrast these with parallel but feminist processes. In this way, they explore the assumptions and communicative implications of conventional negotiation dimensions (i.e., exchange, instrumental goals and optimal settlements, and independent parties). Through contrastive analyses, they advocate: co-construction (mutual inquiry that encourages expansive thinking and contextualization of issues within a communal approach); goals of self- and mutual understanding and jointly developed courses of action; and relational interdependence that emerges during bargaining processes and reflects trust, empathy, and shared emotional expressions.
Like the other authors in Part I, Putnam and Kolb expand our conceptualizations of organizational and managerial approaches. They explore what these feminist dimensions would mean for bargaining processes. Rather than exchanging proposals, generating options, and exchanging concessions, negotiators in the alternative approach would reframe the ways multiple parties understand the situation. They would use dialogue as a process of co-learning and inquiry, rather than as problem solving for option generation. Instead of converging on debate and persuasion as core processes, negotiators in the alternative perspective would center on invitational rhetoric and circular questioning as fundamental social interaction processes. Invitational rhetoric “urges participants to move beyond the here-and-now issues and raise questions about peak experiences, times of exceptional performance, and what people value most about their lives, careers, and work.” Circular questioning is a series of queries that begins with personal experience and assesses responsibility. This inquiry cycles back to narrative details about the shared personal experience so that the original experiences are destabilized and, thus, open to alternative interpretations. By critiquing, then extending current negotiation models, Putnam and Kolb develop an alternative model guided by feminist thinking.Part II
Whereas the authors in Part I lay some conceptual groundwork about exclusionary discourse, interests, and experiences, the authors of the three chapters in Part II, “Rethinking Present Processes,” present (mostly white) women's voices through interview excerpts, poems, diary entries, stories, and personal involvement with these constructs. They explore the ways in which these concrete details of ordinary lives represent missing facets and nuances of our organizational and managerial communication work. These chapters are the least “finished” because all the authors raise issues that defy closure. Each of their overviews and feminist reanalyses acts as a springboard for additional research.[Page xviii]
In her work on embodied experience, Trethewey links the development of sophisticated control mechanisms with the ways in which women's bodies are disciplined by themselves and others. In Chapter 5, “Revisioning Control: A Feminist Critique of Disciplined Bodies,” Trethewey develops Foucauldian and poststructuralist analyses of female workers' bodies as sites of power and resistance. Women's embodied experiences enable and constrain their self-identities and material results (i.e., competence evaluations and outcomes) to such an extent that the terms female bodies and professional bodies appear contradictory. Through analyses of her interview data on (primarily white heterosexual) professional women's embodied experiences, she finds that women's discourse repeatedly portrays professional women's bodies as fit, as tools to emit intentional messages, and as excessive. Unable to meet the masculine ideal of a professional body despite self- and other-disciplinary action, women's bodies mark them as “other.”
Trethewey admits that her analyses do not account for the ways that many women celebrate and resist disciplinary mechanisms. She argues that greater attention to the social construction of women's embodied identities could illuminate the kinds of resistance that can lead to organizational change and innovative organizational (and managerial) communication research programs.
In Chapter 6, “Walking the High Wire: Leadership Theorizing, Daily Acts, and Tensions,” Fine and Buzzanell use a revisionist/revalorist feminist analysis to create a vision of leadership, administration, and management as serving. This vision exposes the deficiencies of both mainstream and alternative views of leadership. Fine and Buzzanell first explore how traditional (adaptive, transformational, and self-leadership and superleadership) and alternative (gendered and servant) leadership and management aspects are exclusionary and/or incomplete. By using feminist epistemological and methodological commitments (i.e., women's ways of knowing, feminist problematics, feminist synalytics, and revolutionary pragmatism; see Fine, 1993), they bring together their own life experiences (in the form of diary entries) and theory in such a way that tensions among differing values and approaches are exposed and sustained.
They find that four main paradoxes emerge when servant, leadership, and feminine are examined simultaneously. When women lead by serving, they face double binds because (a) the juxtapositions of subordinate/servant and superordinate/served gain power for males but fulfill traditional (unvalued) roles for women; (b) the qualities built into the servant leadership role are evaluated according to their instrumental worth, making most feminine ways of enacting and describing servant leadership devalued; (c) the implications that leaders can change styles easily to suit situations do not rest easily with “serving” as a lifelong ethical process; and (d) women who serve threaten the status quo. To revision serving as a feminist form of leadership, Fine and Buzzanell situate serving as a form of resistance. Women who serve resist [Page xix]others' definitions of what they should do and how they should do it. They resist judgments of selfishness and unfemininity that often occur when women prioritize service by and for themselves as highly as service for others. And they resist static notions of serving by constantly reevaluating whether their serving is ethical (i.e., whether serving empowers or makes different stakeholders vulnerable and whether serving creates a more equitable world for white women and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups).
Serving embodies the struggle to move toward feminist transformation. Serving is transformative and emancipatory because it provides freedom to confront oneself and to act for the betterment of women and men. Serving challenges community-diminishing norms by its very existence. However, serving also can lead to the development of strategies and practices that initiate “microemancipation” (Alvesson & Wilmott, 1992) within the organization because of the self-reflexivity that serving prompts in others and in organizations.
In the final chapter of Part II, Mattson, Clair, Sanger, and Kunkel use the storytelling of narratives and poems to draw readers into a reframing of what stress means in our everyday lives and why those meanings do not reflect the experiences of women. In Chapter 7, “A Feminist Reframing of Stress: Rose's Story,” they observe that traditional research has resulted in prescriptive measures for reducing stress; however,
none of the prescriptive measures suggest altering the way we do business so that we do not have “high-pressure deadlines” … [or altering the] onus for change [that] is placed on the individual rather than on the way we organize our work practices.
Moreover, stress typically is described as negative. Popular writings about time management are presented as ways of managing deadlines, demands, and outcomes of burnout. Models that incorporate communication as a means of alleviating stress propose either that social support operates as a buffer against the harmful effects of stressful life events or that emotional communication can lessen the impact of stress on burnout. Other lines of research connect interpersonal linkages and attributes of workers with different stress levels.
To reframe stress, Mattson et al. recommend that organizational and managerial communication researchers be “open to the sequestered stories, the marginalized stories, or the stories of stress that are labeled as categories other than stress.” As one example, they recount Hazell's (1997) narrative of a call to a radio talk show in which Rose, a young mother with five children under the age of 3, pleaded for help after social services had rejected her appeals. Mattson et al. point out that popular and academic reports would not categorize [Page xx]the story as stress, work, or public policy but as “domestic.” This framing does not question who assigns meaning to an event or how power imbalances can be made visible so that frames can be challenged, resisted, and opened to change. The more that frames are accepted as taken for granted, the more they become reified. Their communicative potential for creating and persuading self and others about realities becomes less obvious.
Mattson et al. draw from core feminist concerns rather than single feminist approaches. They endeavor
to highlight stressful situations that may not have received the same legitimation as current “workplace” conceptualizations of stress; to advance a more holistic understanding of stress as a sociopolitical phenomenon; to point out the discursive as well as the material aspects of stress; and to expose the ways in which women's work-related stress is far too often privatized.
Each of these “reframings” is elaborated on but also is connected to Rose's story and the stories of others whose tolerance for life's demands and deadlines is exceeded. They recommend that these four areas provide a counterpoint for traditional research.Part 3
Part III, “Authoring Our Future,” contains three chapters that rewrite organizational and managerial communication constructs. These chapters not only offer alternative reconceptualizations but also suggest specific tactics and long-term strategies derived from feminisms to revise organizational and managerial communication processes and practices. These chapters deal with intersections of sex and gender, race and ethnicity, and class not by adding phrases like “and people of color” but by delving into concerns raised when women and men of color and economically disadvantaged groups are excluded from organizational and managerial communication theory, research, and practice. These chapters lay bare—with no excuses—how limited our views of organizational life have been. Indeed, by failing to think about difference holistically, we have unwittingly perpetuated exclusionary thinking, micropractices, and macrostructures. These chapters question our taken-for-granted assumptions in theorizing and practices and find our prior work lacking. They are most explicit in their recommendations for the transformation of daily practices and organizational policies.
As Allen explains in Chapter 8, “‘Learning the Ropes’: A Black Feminist Standpoint Analysis,” she can offer a personalized and contextualized account of organizational socialization by describing and critiquing her experience as an “outsider within” (i.e., a black woman in the U.S. white male academe; see Allen, 1998a; Collins, 1991). Although the communicative content [Page xxi]and work-related communication may differ, Allen's standpoint analysis is applicable to nonacademic organizations and to members of other marginalized groups. Allen weaves theory, research, and routine practices with reflections about her own experiences. She identifies her role and role-set members, her treatment as a newcomer, the ways in which role-set members often communicate based on stereotypes of black women (e.g., mammy and matriarch) and on token status, and how others often make insensitive or patronizing comments and requests. She voices the constant inner struggles that black women feel as they (re)live the power dynamics that mark them as outsiders and that make sense making different from those experiences and emotions portrayed in socialization literature. She uses her “‘outsider within’ status to help create black feminist thought,” resist marginalization (and build a supportive community), and “infuse elements of my black woman cultural experience into my work” through examples of positive black experiences, “call and response” teaching styles, and concern for others. As Allen summarizes her strategies, she remarks, “I engage in a variety of activities that allow me to honor and nurture many facets of my multicultural identity.”
Based on her experiences, Allen offers suggestions for those interacting with members of traditionally marginalized groups and for newcomers. She encourages sensitivity to newcomers, self-reflexivity, and self-challenges to transform academe (and society) in ways that could benefit all newcomers. She recommends that black female academicians be proactive in their socialization processes and in their solicitation of feedback about their work. If these women know what they want, keep these priorities in mind, and maintain a varied support network, they can resist their own complicity and others' inclinations to disempower them and other newcomers.
Allen primarily describes detailed micropractices to question taken-for-granted assumptions and to revise theory and organizational practice. In Chapter 9, Buzzanell shifts between micro and macro issues but focuses mostly on macrolevel concerns in “The Promise and Practice of the New Career and Social Contract: Illusions Exposed and Suggestions for Reform.” In this second chapter in Part III, Buzzanell challenges our acceptance of new career forms (i.e., series of work contracts over the course of a lifetime) and related social contracts (i.e., normative expectations for employee-employer exchange relationships) and psychological contracts (i.e., temporary terms of exchange stipulated in specific employee-employer agreements). Through a poststructuralist feminist analysis, she exposes the illusions that the new career and contracts are more realistic, more just, and less paternalistic than older career and contract forms.
Buzzanell contrasts the career and contract discourse and discursive practices found in writings by managerial, organizational, and career researchers and practitioners with data produced by government documents (e.g., U.S. Department of Labor reports and projections), PBS focus group transcripts, [Page xxii]and research on the effects of career insecurity, unemployment, displacement, underemployment, and lack of work on individual, organizational, societal, and global levels. Buzzanell displays how the discourse actually disenfranchises workforce members, benefits managerial ideology, and curtails discussions of underlying premises and alternative solutions. When inequities, particularly unfair treatment and outcomes for individuals and workforce cohorts most vulnerable in our society, are made visible, then the potential to create change is realized.
Buzzanell advocates four avenues of change organized according to the organizational communication problematics outlined by Mumby and Stohl (1996). The rationality problematic suggests that management and organizational communication researchers and practitioners devise and educate others about career models, definitions, and language that systematically promote feminine/feminist values of relationship, interconnectedness, collaboration, and long-term focus. The problematic of voice demands publication of the ways the new career and social contract disadvantage white women, people of color, the lower class, and less educated members of the workforce who are both female and male. The problematic of organization mandates the authoring of new texts that explicitly promote values of fairness, interrelationships, and community support within and beyond sites of employment. The problematic of organization-society relationships requires that we find ways to treat all stakeholders as legitimate contributors to dialogue about blurred boundaries and moral responses to corporate environments and community concerns.
Finally, in Chapter 10, “Chaos Theory and the Glass Ceiling,” Reuther and Fairhurst display how a system's inherent order suggested by some organizational chaos theorists may perpetuate gender and/or race ideologies that can lead to glass-ceiling processes and effects. Although the glass ceiling is often defined as the disproportionate representation of white women and people of color in top organizational levels, they focus on “ideologies, language patterns, and organizing practices [particularly racist ideologies and practices] that establish and reify this invisible barrier.”
Reuther and Fairhurst believe that insights from the new sciences may better account for the complexities in language and social interaction that undergird discriminatory glass-ceiling effects. The experiences of white males are replicated, while different identities are suppressed (strange-attractor branch of chaos theory). Organizational members can devise means for disrupting or resisting (“unlearning”) discriminatory practices (order-out-of-chaos branch of chaos theory). Through different feminist transformation processes, organizational members and organizational and managerial communication researchers can educate others in feminist principles, use praxis, and employ deconstruction of oppositions to affect change. On a daily level, members and researchers can challenge thinking that precludes avenues for [Page xxiii]change, can engage in micropractices that resist patriarchal systems in small (but incremental and unforeseeable) ways, and can initiate more macro efforts toward reform that address the complexities of organizational systems. Through action and reflection, members can resist the replication of discriminatory patterns. For researchers, Reuther and Fairhurst suggest a research agenda that not only devises possible interventions but also creates the potential for radical self-organizing.Concluding Chapter
The final chapter, “Dialoguing …,” draws together several themes occurring throughout Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives and encourages a continuation of chapter authors' conversations with readers. In this concluding chapter, feminist concerns articulated by the authors are positioned within ongoing feminist (including third-wave feminist) discussion. Rather than concluding this edited book, our final chapter encourages extension and critique of the issues raised throughout Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives.[Page xxiv]
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About the Contributors[Page 323]
Brenda J. Allen (Ph.D., Howard University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her primary area of study is organizational communication, with an emphasis on workplace diversity and computer-mediated communication. Her work has been published in Management Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Studies, the Southern Journal of Communication, and Sex Roles. She also wrote a chapter in Our Voices: Essays in Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication (1996). Brenda.J.Allen@Colorado.edu
Connie Bullis (Ph.D., Purdue University) is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Utah. She has authored numerous convention papers and published articles on organizational socialization. Her work has appeared in such journals as Communication Monographs, the Western Journal of Communication, Communication Quarterly, Communication Studies, and the Journal of Organizational Change Management. Her more recent work has focused on standpoint feminism as an approach to organizational socialization. Bullis@admin.comm.utah.edu
Patrice M. Buzzanell (Ph.D., Purdue University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Purdue University. Her research interests focus primarily on gendered organizational communication and on career issues in the workplace, particularly the ways in which individuals and societies construct careers to manage identities and work processes on multiple levels. For her work on career uncertainty, she received the W. Charles Redding Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association. She has contributed chapters to several books and has published in journals, including Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Health Communication, and [Page 324]the Western Journal of Communication. She is currently serving as editor of Management Communication Quarterly, incoming chairperson of the organizational communication division of the International Communication Association, and president of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG). Pbuzzanell@sla.purdue.edu
Robin Patric Clair (Ph.D., Kent State University) is an Associate Professor at Purdue University. Her primary research and teaching interests are in organizational communication. She draws from critical, feminist, postmodern, and aesthetic theories to develop her work on power, politics, and identity. Her areas of study include sequestered stories of sexual harassment, silence as oppression and resistance, pay inequity, organizational socialization, the gendered construction of reality, and the artful practices of resistance. She has published in such journals as Communication Monographs, Western Journal of Communication, Management Communication Quarterly, and Journal of Applied Communication Research. Her most recent book is Organizing Science (1998). Rpclair@omni.cc.purdue.edu
Stanley Deetz (Ph.D., Ohio University) is a Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he teaches courses in organizational theory, organizational communication, and communication theory. He is the author of Transforming Communication, Transforming Business: Building Responsive and Responsible Workplaces (1995) and Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization: Developments in Communication and the Politics of Everyday Life (1992); coauthor of Doing Critical Management Research (Sage, in press) and Communication and Cultural Change (Sage, 2000); and editor or author of eight other books. He has published numerous essays regarding stakeholder representation, decision making, culture, and communication in corporate organizations in scholarly journals and books, and he has lectured widely in the United States and Europe. In 1994, he was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Företagsekonomiska Institutionen, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden, lecturing and conducting research on managing knowledge-intensive work. He has also served as a consultant on culture, diversity, and participatory decision making for several major corporations. He offers an on-line course on communication and cultural change for the executive masters at Seton Hall University. He also served as president of the International Communication Association from 1996 to 1997. Stanley.email@example.com
Gail T. Fairhurst (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is a Professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests focus primarily on leadership communication and language analysis: leadership communication during organizational change and workforce restructuring, the communication [Page 325]of corporate philosophy statements, and leader-member relationships. In addition to several book chapters, she has published in Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Yearbook, Management Communication Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, among others. She is also the coauthor (with Bob Sarr) of The Art of Framing: Managing the Language of Leadership, honored in 1997 with the National Communication Association's Best Book Award for Organizational Communication. She has consulted with Procter & Gamble, Boeing, the U.S. Air Force, Fluor Daniel, Kroger, and General Electric, among others. Fairhug@email.uc.edu
Marlene G. Fine (MBA and Ph.D., University of Massachusetts) is a Professor of Communications and Management at Simmons College, where she also directs the Graduate Program in Communications Management. Her research interests include cultural diversity in the workplace; gender, race, and communication; and feminist theory and research. She is the author of Building Successful Multicultural Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities (1995), in addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters. She previously was on the faculty of the College of Management of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and served as graduate dean at Emerson College. Her research interests in management have been informed by her work as an organizational consultant and her numerous university and college administrative positions, including department chair, associate dean, MBA director, and graduate dean. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tanni Haas (Ph.D., Rutgers University) is an Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College. In addition to the present chapter, he has written two other essays on organizational communication ethics to be published in The Handbook of Public Relations (Sage, in press) and The Foundations of Management Knowledge (in press). email@example.com
Deborah M. Kolb (MBA, University of Colorado; Ph.D., M.I.T., Sloan School of Management) is a Professor of Management at the Simmons College Graduate School of Management and the Director of the Center for Gender in Organizations there. From 1991 to 1994, she was executive director of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She is currently a senior fellow at the program, where she codirects the Negotiations in the Workplace Program. Her current research looks at how women (and men) can become more effective problem solvers by mastering the dual requirements of the shadow negotiation—empowering themselves and connecting with others. Her latest research projects include When Women Negotiate: Empowering Ourselves, Connecting With Others (with Judith Williams, in press) and [Page 326]Negotiation Eclectics: Essays in Memory of Jeffrey Z. Rubin (1999). She is the author of The Mediators (1983), an in-depth study of labor mediation, and coeditor of Hidden Conflict in Organizations: Uncovering Behind-the-Scenes Disputes, a collection of field studies about how conflicts are handled in a variety of business and not-for-profit organizations. She has also published a study of the practice of successful mediators, Making Talk Work: Profiles of Mediators (1994). Her dissertation won the Zannetos Prize for outstanding doctoral scholarship. She is also involved in a number of action research and consulting projects that link strategic business concerns with gender, diversity, and work-life issues. Dkolb@vmsvax.simmons.edu
Adrianne Dennis Kunkel is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas in the Department of Communication Studies. Her research interests include the study of personal relationships, emotion and emotional support, socialization processes, sex/gender, and quantitative/qualitative research methodologies. Recently, she has investigated associations between different modes of emotional disclosure and cognitive, affective, and health benefits. She has published several chapters and articles in journals, including Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, and the Journal of Applied Communication Research. She. has also received the Outstanding Thesis/Dissertation Award given by the Interpersonal Communication Division of the International Communication Association. firstname.lastname@example.org
Marifran Mattson (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University. Her research and teaching interests explore the intersection of health communication, organizational communication, and ethics. Her current research foci include uncomfortable support, HIV/AIDS prevention, aviation safety, and job loss. Her research has expanded accepted understandings of social support by addressing the communicative use of uncomfortable support in a community program for troubled youth. She has worked with HIV test practitioners to develop a patient-centered, harm-reduction model of counseling. She is involved in an interdisciplinary research team that considers the implications of human factors (e.g., stress, burnout) in maintaining safety and productivity (e.g., on-time flights) in the aviation industry. She has also challenged and reframed traditional ethics models used to study job loss and interaction in the global workplace. She has published in Communication Monographs, Management Communication Quarterly, Human Communication Research, the Journal of Applied Communication Research, and Health Communication. email@example.com
Dennis K. Mumby (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University) is a Professor of Communication at Purdue University. His research focuses on power, discourse, [Page 327]and control issues in organizational contexts. He has published in journals such as Communication Monographs, the Academy of Management Review, Discourse & Society, and Management Communication Quarterly. His books include Communication and Power in Organizations (1988) and Narrative and Social Control (ed., Sage, 1993). He is currently working on a book for Sage titled Organizing Gender: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Organization Studies. firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda L. Putnam (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a Professor of Organizational Communication and the Director of the Program on Conflict and Dispute Resolution in the Center for Leadership Studies of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Her current research interests include communication strategies in negotiation, conflict, language analysis in organizations, and groups in organizations. She has published more than 70 articles and book chapters in management and communication journals. She is the coeditor of the New Handbook of Organizational Communication (2000), Communication and Negotiation (1992), Handbook of Organizational Communication (1987), and Communication and Organization: An Interpretive Approach (1983). She is the 1993 recipient of the SCA Charles H. Woolbert Research Award for a seminal article in the field and was elected a fellow in 1995 and president of the International Communication Association in 1999. LPUTNAM@tamu.edu
Cindy Reuther is a partner in NRG, an organizational training and development group. She uses her MA in communication from the University of Cincinnati along with experience-based learning techniques to help individuals and teams explore current organizational issues, including leadership, change, creativity, and risk taking. Her work with client groups includes Procter & Gamble, Children's Hospital, United Stationers, Association of Women Students-Miami University, and the Minneapolis YWCA. Ckreuther@yahoo.com
Pamela A. Chapman Sanger is a doctoral candidate at Purdue University. Her main research and teaching interests are in organizational communication. Her work emphasizes critical, postmodern, and feminist approaches to the study of a variety of organizational phenomena. She is currently studying workplace violence. She has published in the Handbook of Organization Studies. email@example.com
Karen Rohrbauck Stout is a doctoral candidate at the University of Utah. Her doctoral studies focus on organizational socialization. She is working to develop exclusionary socialization, a phenomenon that emerged from her thesis research. She has been the recipient of a Cannon research scholarship from [Page 328]the University of Utah the last 2 years and has won two International Communication Association teaching awards. She has presented 12 convention papers and written an instructor's manual for an organizational communication text. K.Stout@m.cc.utah.edu
Angela Trethewey (Ph.D., Purdue University) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Arizona State University. Her research centers on the relationships among organizational discourse, power, resistance, and identity formation. Her work has been published in Communication Monographs, the Western Journal of Communication, and Organization Studies, as well as in a variety of edited volumes. She directs research and teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in courses such as organizational communication, qualitative research methods, and gender and communication. Atreth@asu.edu
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