Organizational Behaviour Reassessed: The Impact of Gender


Edited by: Elisabeth Wilson

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    I first encountered Organizational Behaviour (OB) officially when I became a student on an MBA programme. How nice it was to learn about all the different bits of behaviour that happened in organizations, tidily chopped into bite size pieces, and how I as the manager could have some influence on them. All I had to do was to fit the right theory to particular people. It was illuminating, yet something was missing.

    Of course this was not really my first encounter with organizational behaviour, as I had been working in organizations, as both employee and volunteer, for over 20 years. Even before that, I had experienced organizations as a school child, user of the UK National Health Service, and churchgoer from an early age, my father being the local minister. In almost all these organizations it appeared part of the natural course of events that men were in charge, with women in supportive and subsidiary roles. The exceptions were two all-female schools, which gave me some alternative role models, and in the second, some limited participatory structures and a sense of justice. I am of the post-war generation whose parents advised me to get a degree ‘in case you are ever widowed’, and have experienced my share of discrimination and setbacks.

    It was only later when as a lecturer I started to read about gender and organizations that the scales fell from my eyes, and I felt some identification, a sense of authenticity, about what I was reading. All the ‘other’ organizational behaviour that I had met, the stuff that never made the textbooks, now had some explanation: the deference of women to men; the avuncular boss who put his arm round me; the sarcastic manager who ridiculed my inexperience; the pressure on men to conform; the difficult promotion path.

    There are any number of standard OB textbooks, indistinguishable from each other, and almost all written from a male, managerialist, and often ethnocentric, viewpoint. They perform a certain function, but not one that I find satisfying, because they affirm the current order. This book grew out of a perceived need to challenge OB from the particular perspective of gender. I was tired of teaching OB topics without reference to gender, and wanted to gather together many of the insights that had emerged into one volume. Initially conceived as a book chapter, this book has survived two changes of publisher and the loss of a co-editor to emerge in its current form.

    Happily things have changed since this book was first conceived, and OB appears to be undergoing a renaissance at the moment. I feel happy that this book is published at the same time as a number of other critical texts in the field. May the debate continue.

    Elisabeth M.WilsonManchester, August 2000


    I should like to thank my fellow contributors to this volume, both those who stuck with me when finding a publisher was initially difficult, and those more recently recruited.

    There are a number of colleagues at the Institute for Development Policy and Management at the University of Manchester who demand particular mention: Bill Cooke encouraged me to persist; and Debra Whitehead and Karen Hunt helped order the manuscript.

    I should also like to thank Rosemary Nixon and later Kiren Shoman from Sage for their patient support and guidance.


    Iiris Aaltio-Marjosola is Professor of Management in Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland. Her research interests consist of organizational culture and its change, gender issues in management as well as entrepreneurial organizational cultures. Her background is in business administration and in organization psychology. She has formerly held academic posts as Associate Professor at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Senior Scientist at the Academy of Finland, and Senior Lecturer in organization psychology at the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration. Her work on gender consists of both issues on femininity and masculinity and has been published in journals and book chapters in Scandinavia and internationally.

    Yochanan Altman is Research Professor in International Human Resource Management at the University of North London. In 2000 he was also visiting professor at the University of Paris and the Hong Kong Baptist University. A psychologist and anthropologist by background, he is interested in the interaction between people and culture at the workplace. In addition to his academic career he has been consulting widely with organizations and individuals on careers, competence and inter-cultural awareness. This also brought him to the study of women at work and the role of working women in society.

    Margaret Dale is an employment consultant and has written a number of books in the area of Human Resource Development and the use of competencies. She is a member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, is professional advisor to the Universities Competences Consortium, and acts as an expert witness in the assessment of earnings loss in personal injury and medical negligence cases. She carried out research into management style from a woman's perspective and developed a framework of competencies required for effective organizational management. She went on to explore why women ‘chose’ not to apply for management jobs for her MSc dissertation. With an extensive background in organizational and management development and the management of change in universities, the Health Service and Local Government, her particular concern is the way organizations impact on and treat people. She is a member of her local Community Health Council, and acts as a mediator in the National Health Service complaints process. Her recent research concerns informal learning at work and she is currently writing another book on this topic.

    Judith Foreman is Programme Director of the Masters in Managing Organizational Change at Bradford College in the Department of Management, Hospitality and Leisure Studies. Her research and teaching interests are in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and organization.

    Mary Beth Gallagher began her business career with a major international airline in the United States. After occupying a variety of managerial positions in airport operations, she returned to school obtaining a Master of Arts degree in psychology from Antioch University in Seattle, Washington. After a brief career as a psychotherapist, Mary Beth relocated to the Los Angeles area where she worked as the Assistant Director of the Field Study Program at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. Being in an academic environment and attending classes at Anderson re-ignited Mary Beth's interests in business. Looking to integrate her business and psychology backgrounds, Mary Beth enrolled in an Industrial/Organizational Psychology programme at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, California. She will be graduating with her Master of Science degree in May, 2000. When not working or attending classes, Mary Beth is pursuing her passion for international travel.

    Lorraine Green is a lecturer in Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University, previously having worked as a research fellow in the centre of Applied Childhood Studies, and a lecturer in Sociology and Social Work at the University of Huddersfield. Her research interests and publications are around issues of power, gender, sexuality, sexual abuse, residential care and childhood. Current research projects focused on sexuality and sexual abuse issues in children's homes, and on a cross comparative analysis of legalistic and therapeutic responses to sexual abuse in three European countries.

    Jeff Hearn is originally from London. He studied at the Universities of Oxford, Oxford Brookes, and Leeds, and completed his PhD at Bradford. He has been teaching, researching and writing on gender relations in organizations since 1977. A special focus of this work has been co-writing with Wendy Parkin on sexuality in organizations. He has also conducted research on men and patriarchy, historical change, and men's violence to known women and children. This work was initially at Bradford University which he left in 1995 to join Manchester University where he is Professorial Research Fellow. His next book is Unspoken Forces, co-authored with Wendy Parkin, on violation in organizations. He is currently Visiting Professor and Academy of Finland Senior Fellow at the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, working on gender relations in transnational organizations, and men's practices in Europe.

    Heather Höpfl is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Head of the School of Operational Analysis and Human Resource Management, Newcastle Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Heather Höpfl is known for her original research in organizational culture, management development and organizational theory. She completed her PhD in Organizational Psychology at Lancaster University, UK in 1982 and has since worked in the theatre, in research and in teaching. She has undertaken research with a number of large organizations in the UK including British Airways, the Prison Service, the Department for Education and Employment, and also the Land Transport Authority in Singapore. She has a particular interest in the relationship between structures and processes and this has been an important part of her work on the design of systems environments both for the analysis of airline safety information and for the development of learning organization approaches for management development. She is married to Harro Höpfl and has two children, George and Max.

    Anne Kovalainen is Professor in Gender Research, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland and Docent in Economic Sociology at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Finland. She has been a Visiting Research Fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science (2000, 1996) and the University of Bradford (1993). Her research interests are in economic sociology and gender, working life, methods, and gender theories. Her recent books have covered issues such as European Employment Systems; welfare, social care and gender, and neo-entrepreneurship in welfare services, as well as several articles in Finnish and English.

    Beverly Dawn Metcalfe is Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management in the HRM Department, Staffordshire University. Her background is in project management and management development in the defence and telecommunications industries and also the public sector. Her work experiences contributed to her decision to move into academia and stimulated her to research the broad areas of Human Resource Management and gender and management. Her research interests include the construction of gendered identities at work; International Human Resource Management, and gender; dress and identity; performance management; and gender and performativity. In addition to research and lecturing she also consults in the areas of Human Resource Strategic Development and Equal Opportunities.

    Albert J. Mills is a Professor of Management in the Department of Management at Saint Mary's University. He incorporates race/ethnicity and gender in his teaching of organizational behaviour – drawing on ‘Malcolm X’ and ‘Norma Rae’ to educate and inspire students. His research centres on the impact of organization on people, focusing on organizational change and human liberation. These lifelong concerns were formulated on the shop floor of British industry and through involvement in the movements for social change that characterized the 1960s. Mills’ early images of organization – images of frustration, sexually segregated work, power disparities, and conflict – were experienced through a series of unskilled jobs and given broader meaning through campaigns for peace, women's liberation, environmental survival and social change. Albert Mills has authored and co-edited several books, articles, and conference papers that hopefully contribute to more than tenure and promotion in the university system.

    Sue Newell is Professor of Innovation and Organizational Analysis at Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University. She is a Chartered Psychologist who has worked previously at Portsmouth, Aston, Birmingham and Warwick Universities. Her main research interest is in the area of innovation, knowledge and organizational networking but she maintains an interest in more general HR issues, including selection and assessment, management development and gender and work.

    Wendy Parkin is a principal lecturer in Sociology and Social Work at the University of Huddersfield. Her research and publications are in the field of sexuality, gender, emotion and organizations. Her current research is on the relationships between sexuality, gender, violence and organizational worlds.

    Elizabeth Sondhaus is currently an organizational consultant with the District Attorney's office, County of San Diego, San Diego, California, USA. She completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in 1997. She has practised as a therapist working with families and individuals, specializing in women's issues and trauma. She has also worked as research coordinator on several projects, including the assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans and developing an instrument for the assessment of the disorders of early childhood. Her current research interests include gender issues in organizations, cross-cultural organization development, and the use of narrative in organizational interventions. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine and in Neuropsychology.

    Elisabeth Wilson's first career was in social work, and encountering discrimination, she sought to make herself more promotable by taking an MBA. This led to a career change, lecturing at Liverpool John Moores University, and an abiding research interest in gender and organization. She has published articles and book chapters in this field as well as on managing diversity, yoga and management, and public sector structure and culture. She now works in the Institute for Development Policy and Management at Manchester University, where she is happy to have found a niche where she does not have to argue daily the relevance of gender. She is married to Michael Taylor and has two adult children.

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