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Article
Publication date: 29 August 2019

Eeva Aromaa, Päivi Eriksson, Jean Helms Mills, Esa Hiltunen, Maarit Lammassaari and Albert J. Mills

The purpose of this paper is to analyze current literature on critical sensemaking (CSM) to assess its significance and potential for understanding the role of agency in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze current literature on critical sensemaking (CSM) to assess its significance and potential for understanding the role of agency in management and organizational studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis involves an examination of a selection of 51 applied studies that cite, draw on and contribute to CSM, to assess the challenges and potential of utilizing CSM.

Findings

The paper reveals the range of organizational issues that this work has been grappling with; the unique insights that CSM has revealed in the study of management and organizations; and some of the challenges and promises of CSM for studying agency in context. This sets up discussion of organizational issues and insights provided by CSM to reveal its potential in dealing with issues of agency in organizations. The sheer scope of CSM studies indicates that it has relevance for a range of management researchers, including those interested in behavior at work, theories of organization, leadership and crisis management, diversity management, emotion, ethics and justice, and many more.

Research limitations/implications

The main focus is restricted to providing a working knowledge of CSM rather than other approaches to agency.

Practical implications

The paper outlines the challenges and potential for applying the CSM theory.

Social implications

The paper reveals the range of problem-solving issues that CSM studies have been applied to.

Originality/value

This is the first major review of the challenges and potential of applying CSM; concluding with a discussion of its strengths and limitations and providing a summary of insights for future work.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2020

Kerry Hendricks, Nick Deal, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

The purpose of this study is to draw attention to the heuristic value of intersectionality by historicizing it as a framework appropriate for the use of studying…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to draw attention to the heuristic value of intersectionality by historicizing it as a framework appropriate for the use of studying discrimination and discriminatory practices in organizations over time.

Design/methodology/approach

Utilizing a fusion between amodernist historiography vis-à-vis the nascent ANTi-History approach and intersectional complexity, the authors draw upon historical narratives from archival materials British Airways to empirically examine the utility of, and turn to, intersectional history in historical organization studies.

Findings

Analysis of archival materials and commissioned corporate histories revealed subjectivities of socially constructing historicized intersectional identities. This suggests that certain identities have been and continue to “enjoy” privilege while others are marginalized and/or neglected through serial interconnected historical meanings. These processes of privileging and marginalization rely on the way a nexus of meaning is configured.

Research limitations/implications

The research process relied and is dependent on limited archival materials within a single organization (British Airways) and industry (civil aviation). The critique herein should not be misinterpreted as judgment of the airline itself as an exemplar of discriminatory practices but rather for its longevity as an ongoing concern; its rich, colonialist history within the United Kingdom and accessibility of data. Archival traces are housed within a semi-public corporate archive which means those traces available for study have been professional and rhetorically curated.

Practical implications

From the perspective of workplace diversity, our aim has been to reveal to diversity professionals and activists not only the role of history in shaping discrimination but also, in particular, to be alert to the processes whereby the production of knowledge of the past takes place. The authors hope also to have drawn attention to the power of organizations in the generation of discriminatory historical accounts and the need to further explore how such accounts are produced as knowledge of the past. Finally, the authors introduce the notion of “nexus of meaning” to suggest that in the complexity of intersectionality, the authors need to explore not only how people experience different and combined forms of discrimination but also how those experiences are shaped in a complex series of meaning that owe much to past experiences.

Social implications

The research directs attention to the nexus of meaning that constitute intersecting identities.

Originality/value

The research attempts to historicize intersectionality as a qualitative framework worthy of consideration in management and organization studies. From the perspective of studying discrimination in organizational life, the aim of this paper is to bring forward the role history plays in shaping discrimination as well as the processes whereby the production of knowledge of the past takes place. Attention is also drawn to the power of organizations in the generation of discriminatory historical accounts and the need to further explore how such accounts are produced. This study introduces the nexus of meaning analytic that understands how the experiences of different and combined forms of discrimination are shaped by meanings of the past.

Details

Management Decision, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Stefanie Ruel, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

The authors focus on “writing women into ‘history’” in this study, embracing the notion of cisgender and ethnicity in relation to the “historic turn”. As such, the authors…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors focus on “writing women into ‘history’” in this study, embracing the notion of cisgender and ethnicity in relation to the “historic turn”. As such, the authors bring forward the stories of the US Pan American Airway’s Guided Missile Range Division (GMRD) and the White women who worked there. The authors ask what has a Cold War US missile division to tell us about present and future gendered relationships in the North American space industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors apply Foucault’s technology of lamination, a form of critical discourse analysis, to both narrative texts and photographic images in the GMRD’s in-house newsletter, the Clipper, dating from 1964 until the end of 1967. They meld an autoethnography to this technique, providing space for the first author to share her experiences within the contemporary space industry in relation to the GMRD White women experiences.

Findings

The authors surface, in applying this combined methodology, a story about a White women’s historical, present and future cisgender social reality in the North American space industry. They are contributing then to a multi-voiced, cisgender/ethnic “historic turn” that, to date, is focused on White men alone in the US race to the moon.

Social implications

The social implication of this study lies in challenging perceptions of the masculinist-gendering of the past by bringing forward tales of, and by, women. This study also brings a White woman’s voice forward, within a contemporary North American space industry organization.

Originality/value

The authors are making a three-fold contribution to this special issue, and to an understandings of gendered/ethnic multi-voiced histories. The authors untangle the mid-Cold War phase from the essentialized Cold War era. They recreate multi-voiced histories of White women within the North American space industry while adding an important contemporary voice. They also present a novel methodology that combines the technology of lamination with autoethnography, to provide a gateway to recognizing the impact of multi-voiced histories onto contemporary and future gendered/ethnic relationships.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 22 October 2020

Nicholous M. Deal, Milorad M. Novicevic, Albert J. Mills, Caleb W. Lugar and Foster Roberts

This paper aims to find common ground between the supposed incompatible meta-historical positioning of positivism and post-positivism through a turn to mnemohistory in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to find common ground between the supposed incompatible meta-historical positioning of positivism and post-positivism through a turn to mnemohistory in management and organizational history.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the idea of creative synthesis and positioning theory, the authors interject concepts from cultural memory studies in historical research on business and organizations to encourage management historians and organization theorists interested in joining the dialogue around how the past is known in the present. Using notions of “aftermath” and “events,” the idea of apositivism is written into historical organization studies to focus on understanding the complex ways of how past events translate into history. The critical historic turn event is raised as an exemplar of these ideas.

Findings

The overview of the emergence of the controversial historic turn in management and organization studies and the positioning of its adherents and antagonists revealed that there may be some commonality between the fragmented sense of the field. It was revealed that effective history vis-à-vis mnemohistory may hold the potential of a shared scholarly ethic.

Originality/value

The research builds on recent work that has sought to bring together the boundaries of management and organizational history. This paper explains how mnemohistory can offer a common position that is instrumental for theorizing the relationships among the past-infused constructs such as organizational heritage, legacy and identity.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2019

Christopher M. Hartt, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

This paper aims to study the role of non-corporeal Actant theory in historical research through a case study of the trajectory of the New Deal as one of the foremost…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to study the role of non-corporeal Actant theory in historical research through a case study of the trajectory of the New Deal as one of the foremost institutions in the USA since its inception in the early 1930s.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors follow the trajectory of the New Deal through a focus on Vice President Henry A. Wallace. Drawing on ANTi-History, the authors view history as a powerful discourse for organizing understandings of the past and non-corporeal Actants as a key influence on making sense of (past) events.

Findings

The authors conclude that non-corporeal Actants influence the shaping of management and organization studies that serve paradoxically to obfuscate history and its relationship to the past.

Research limitations/implications

The authors drew on a series of published studies of Henry Wallace and archival material in the Roosevelt Library, but the study would benefit from an in-depth analysis of the Wallace archives.

Practical implications

The authors reveal the influences of non-corporeal Actants as a method for dealing with the past. The authors do this through the use of ANTi-History as a method of historical analysis.

Social implications

The past is an important source of understanding of the present and future; this innovative approach increases the potential to understand.

Originality/value

Decisions are often black boxes. Non-Corporeal Actants are a new tool with which to see the underlying inputs of choice.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 26 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Insights and Research on the Study of Gender and Intersectionality in International Airline Cultures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-546-7

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Ellen C. Shaffner, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

This paper aims to outline the possibilities of intersectional history as a novel method for management history. Intersectional history combines intersectionality and the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to outline the possibilities of intersectional history as a novel method for management history. Intersectional history combines intersectionality and the study of the past to examine discrimination in organizations over time. This paper explores the need for intersectional work in management history, outlines the vision for intersectional history and provides a brief example analyzing the treatment of Australian Aboriginal people in a historical account of Qantas Airways.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper contends that intersectionality is a discursive practice, and it adopts a relational approach to the study of the past to inform the method. This paper focuses on the social construction of identities and the enduring nature of traces of the powerful in organizations over time.

Findings

The example of Qantas Airways demonstrates that intersectional history can be used to interrogate powerful traces of the past to reveal novel insights about marginalized peoples over time.

Originality/value

Intersectional history is a specific and reflexive method that allows for the surfacing of identity-based marginalization over time. The paper’s concentration on identity as socially constructed allows a particular focus on notions or representations of the marginalized in traces of the past. These traces may otherwise mask the existence and importance of marginalized groups in organizations’ dominant histories.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 April 2019

Rene Arseneault, Nicholous M. Deal and Albert J. Mills

The purpose of this paper is to explore the pluralist contours of Canadian management “knowledge” using the discourse “official” bilingualism – the English and French…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the pluralist contours of Canadian management “knowledge” using the discourse “official” bilingualism – the English and French languages – to understand the impact of socio-historical-political differences on the development of management knowledge production.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing upon an archival collection of management textbooks as historical data, the authors critically explore and analyze the development of Canadian “schools” and management theory. Using narrative analysis and critical hermeneutics, the paper considers the socio-historical-political context of the various “Canadian” scholars that sought to establish a unique business academy distinct but paradoxically akin to the management schools in the USA.

Findings

Mirroring the struggle of Francophones in a dominant English imperative, French management textbooks appeared decades later than English titles. When French texts began to disseminate, it remained in the shadows of American management ideologies.

Research limitations/implications

As only Canadian organizational behavior texts published within the previous 50 years were used as data in this study, it may be incautious to draw broader conclusions. The empirical element of this research relied upon convenience sampling of textbooks.

Practical implications

Management educators weld a considered level of socio-political power that they may or may not knowingly possess, especially in terms of selecting a textbook and other course materials. Regardless of background, management students are somewhat a “tabula rasa;” open to learning new content to make sense of the world. This “open state” places a great deal of responsibility on the professorate in shaping management students’ theoretical understanding of everyday life in organizations. The authors suggest practitioners be reflexive, aware of how textbooks serve as an important vehicle in education that in times past, have promoted or reified mono-cultural agendas.

Originality/value

The research in this paper builds on recent research that considers the role of socio-historical-political context in how management knowledge and theory is performed, as well as contributes to understanding textbooks in how they may shape a pluralist account of Canadian management “knowledge”.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 4 January 2021

Jean Helms Mills and Albert J. Mills

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2017

Kristin S. Williams and Albert J. Mills

This paper aims to achieve four things: to build on recent discussion on the neglect of Frances Perkins’ contribution to the understandings of management and organization…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to achieve four things: to build on recent discussion on the neglect of Frances Perkins’ contribution to the understandings of management and organization (MOS); to surface selected insights by Perkins to reveal her potential as an important MOS scholar and practitioner; to explain some of the reasons for the neglect of Perkins, particularly by MOS scholars; and to interrogate the role of management history in the neglect of Perkins and her management and organizational insights.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts a feminist post-structural lens through which the authors focus on major discourses (dominant interrelated practices and ideas) that influence how people come to define themselves, others and the character of a particular phenomenon (e.g. management history). To that end, the authors have undertaken Foucauldian discourse analysis, where they examine various sources that collectively work to present a dominant idea of a given set of practices (in this case, management and organization studies and associated histories of the field). In Foucauldian terms, these interrelated practices constitute an archive that consists of various selected materials (e.g. the Roosevelt Library and the Columbia University Oral History Collection) and, in this case, works on and by Francis Perkins. Thus, the authors analyzed various materials for their discursive value (viz. the extent to which they produced and reinforced a particular notion that excluded, neglected or ignored women from any privileged role in MOS and management history).

Findings

The findings are discursive, which means that the purpose is to disrupt current knowledge of MOS and management history by revealing how its practices as a field of study serve to leave certain people (i.e. Frances Perkins), influences (i.e. the impact of the “settlement ethos” on the New Deal), and social phenomena (i.e. the New Deal) out of account.

Originality/value

The objective is to ask for a rethink of the field definition of MOS and management history, to include broader levels of social endeavour (e.g. labour, social welfare and politics) and a range of hitherto neglected theorists, in particular Frances Perkins. Achievements in labour, industry and management of organizations, credited to the New Deal, are overlooked in MOS and management and organizational history. As Secretary of Labour, Perkins researched, lobbied and ushered in critical New Deal measures which transformed working environments for men, women and children with social welfare and labour policies that contributed to the understanding of managing and organizing in the modern world.

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