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date: 26 June 2017

Men, Masculinities, and Gendered Organizations

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Please check back later for the full article.

Even though gender and gender analysis are still often equated with women, men and masculinities are equally gendered. This applies throughout society, including within organizations. Following pioneering feminist scholarship on work and organizations, explicitly gendered studies on men and masculinities have increased since the 1980s. The need to include the gendered analysis of men and masculinities as part of gender studies of organizations, leadership, and management, is now widely recognized, at least within gender research. Yet this insight continues to be ignored or downplayed in mainstream work and even in some studies seen as “critical.” Indeed, the vast majority of mainstream work on organizations still has no gender analysis whatsoever or relies on a very simplistic and crude gender analysis.

Research on men and masculinities has been wide-ranging and has raised important new issues about gendered dynamics in organizations, including: cultures and counter-cultures on factory shop floors; historical transformations of men and management in reproducing patriarchies; the relations of bureaucracy, men, and masculinities; management-labor relations as interrelations of masculinities; managerial and professional identity formation; managerial homo-sociality; and the interplay of diverse occupational masculinities. Research has revealed how structures, cultures, and practices of men and masculinities continue to persist and dominate in many contemporary organizations. Having said this, the concepts of gender, of men and masculinities, and of organization have all been subject to complex and contradictory processes that entail both their explicit naming and their simultaneous deconstruction and critique. This is illustrated, respectively, in: the intersectional construction of gender; the pressing need to name men as men in analysis of organizational dominance, but also to deconstruct the category of men as provisional; and in the multiplication of organizational forms as, for example, inter-organizational relations, net-organizations, and cyber-organizations.

These contradictory historical and conceptual namings and deconstructions are especially important in the analysis of transnational organizations operating within the context of globalization, transnationalizations, production, reproduction, and trans(national) patriarchies. Within transnational organizations, such as large gendered multinational enterprises, the taken-for-granted nature of transnational gendered hierarchies and cultures persists in management, maintained partly through commonalities across difference, gendered horizontal specializations and controls. Transnational organizations are key sites for the production of a variety of developing forms of (transnational) business masculinities, some more individualistic, some marriage-based, some nation-based, some transcending nation. These masculinities have clear implications for gendered practices in private spheres, including the provision of domestic servicing, often by black and minority ethnic women. The growth of the knowledge economy brings further complications to these transnational patterns, through elaboration of techno-masculinities, and interactions of men, masculinities, and information and communication technologies. This is particularly relevant in the international financial sector, where constructions of men and masculinities are impacted by the gendering of capital and financial crisis, and by gender regimes of financial institutions, as in the risky behavior of men financiers. Further studies are needed to address the “gender-neutral” hegemony of organizations, leaderships, and managements, especially in transnational arenas and in organizations subject to changing technologies. Other key research issues concern analysis of neglected intersectionalities, including intersectional privileges; male/masculine/men’s bodies; and the taken-for-granted category of “men” in and around organizations.