Marks and Spencer–waiting for the warrior

Ann Rippin (Department of Management, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to explore the gendered narratives of change management at Marks and Spencer (M&S) and uses them as a lens to consider the gendered nature of the change process itself.


Two extant stories: Sleeping Beauty and the Trojan War are taken, along with the cultural archetype of the American West gunslinger to explore the gender aspects of change. The Marks and Spencer case is analysed using the corollary patriarchal narrative of Sleeping Beauty, a story whose organising logic is revealed as one of concern for patriarchal lineage, and legitimate succession. The paper, draws on the Marks and Spencer principals' memoirs and biographies.


Sleeping Beauty is shown as a narrative saturated in misogyny, aggression and violence. This violence, which is shown to characterise the Marks and Spencer case, is amplified in the second narrative, the Trojan War, in the highly personalised battles of the über‐warriors of The Iliad. The paper concludes that violent, hyper‐masculine behaviour creates and maintains a destructive cycle of leadership lionisation and failure at the company which precludes a more feminine and possibly more effective construction of change management.


Demonstrates how M&S, gendered from its birth, its development through the golden years, the crisis, its changes in leadership and its recent change management has attempted to respond to its changing environment.



Rippin, A. (2005), "Marks and Spencer–waiting for the warrior", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 578-593.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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