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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2021

Ingo Winkler and Mette Lund Kristensen

This paper aims to investigate the experiences of permanent liminality of academics and the associated multidimensional processes of identity negotiation.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the experiences of permanent liminality of academics and the associated multidimensional processes of identity negotiation.

Design/methodology/approach

The article draws upon a three-and-a-half-year at-home ethnography. The first author – as insider, participant and researcher – investigated the consequences of an organizational redesign that pushed members of a local university department into a situation of permanent liminality.

Findings

The paper describes how academics simultaneously followed multiple trajectories in their identity negotiation as a response to ongoing experiences of ambiguity, disorientation, powerlessness and loss of status.

Practical implications

Management decisions in higher education institutions based on administrative concerns can have adverse effects for academics, particularly when such decisions disturb, complicate or even render impossible identification processes. University managers need to realize and to respond to the struggle of academics getting lost in an endless quest for defining who they are.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the dual character of identity negotiation in conditions of permanent liminality as unresolved identity work through simultaneous identification and dis-identification. It further shows the multidimensionality of this identity work and argues that identity negotiation as a response to perpetual liminality is informed by notions of struggle and notions of opportunity.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2020

Katy Kerrane, Andrew Lindridge and Sally Dibb

This paper aims to investigate how consumption linked with life transitions can differ in its potential to bring about ongoing liminality. By examining how consumers can…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how consumption linked with life transitions can differ in its potential to bring about ongoing liminality. By examining how consumers can draw on overlapping systems of resources, different ways in which consumers negotiate ongoing liminality following the transition to motherhood are identified.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted an interpretive, exploratory study using in-depth phenomenological interviews with 23 South Asian mothers living in the UK. The sample consisted of mothers at different stages of motherhood.

Findings

Following life transitions, consumers may encounter liminal hotspots at the intersection of overlapping systems of resources. The findings examine two liminal hotspots with differing potential to produce ongoing liminality. The study shows how consumers navigate these liminal hotspots in different ways, by accepting, rejecting and amalgamating the resources at hand.

Research limitations/implications

The research sample could have been more diverse; future research could examine liminal hotspots relating to different minority groups and life transitions.

Practical implications

Marketers need to examine the different ways in which consumers draw on different systems of resources following life transitions. The paper includes implications for how marketers segment, target and market to ethnic minority consumers.

Originality/value

Due to increasingly fluid social conditions, there are likely to be growing numbers of consumers who experience ongoing liminality following life transitions. A preliminary framework is presented outlining different ways that consumers negotiate ongoing liminality by drawing on overlapping systems of resources, broadening the understanding of the role that marketplace resources play beyond life transitions.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 55 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2014

Elisabeth Borg and Jonas Söderlund

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the practices mobile project workers rely upon to deal with their liminal work situation, i.e. a work situation in which they…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the practices mobile project workers rely upon to deal with their liminal work situation, i.e. a work situation in which they are “in-between” and do not have a clear long-term belonging to any specific organisation or project.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employs a qualitative approach and draws upon in-depth interviews with 24 engineers working for one of Scandinavia's leading technical consultancies. The aim of the qualitative data analysis was to identify a set of commonalities and differences in their experiences and ways of dealing with liminality.

Findings

The data indicate that mobile project workers experience their liminality in two separate dimensions; one which is primarily technical and task related, and one that is predominantly group related and social. These types of liminality are dealt with either actively, to lower or handle the ambiguity in the situation, or passively when the individual waits for the situation to be dealt with by others. Based on these two dimensions and types, the paper identifies and discusses four kinds of liminality practices.

Research limitations/implications

The paper demonstrates the importance of focusing on individuals in project-based work, and specifically how they deal with work in-between. The paper shows when and how individuals make use of different liminality practices in their work, and calls for further research on the different skill sets and competencies that are needed to deal with liminality.

Originality/value

By identifying four liminality practices applied in situations signified by the experience of being in-between, this study offers an important contribution to the literature on flexible and mobile work conditions. Thus, the paper contributes to the knowledge of threshold-like employment positions that denotes the everyday work situation for an increasing number of individuals engaged in knowledge-intensive and project-based work.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 36 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 13 April 2015

Elisabeth Borg and Jonas Soderlund

This paper aims to present findings from an interpretative study documenting how mobile project workers develop their conceptions of work performed in liminal (in-between…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present findings from an interpretative study documenting how mobile project workers develop their conceptions of work performed in liminal (in-between) positions. The overall purpose of the paper is to elucidate how people in time-limited and ambiguous work positions develop competences to manage their dynamic work conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

This research relies on two narratives of mobile project workers drawn from a larger longitudinal study. The empirical material includes diaries and multiple interviews. The analysis takes a narrative approach and identifies how and when the mobile project workers enhance their level of liminality competence.

Findings

Three processes were identified as significant in developing higher liminality competence: understanding the value of in-betweenness, embracing the role as an inside-outsider and translating the liminal experience through reflexivity.

Practical implications

The paper demonstrates the need for employers to support individuals in passing through the three processes and to support thoughtful mobility across different project settings to improve the liminality competence of their employees.

Originality/value

In the dual ambition of offering insights based on interpretative research on competence and putting greater emphasis on people working in in-between positions, this study enhances the understanding of how individuals develop their conceptions of work in general, and their conceptions of liminality at work in particular.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2015

Anthony Beudaert, Nil Özçağlar-Toulouse and Meltem Türe

This paper aims at revealing the process of identity reconstruction for individuals who have acquired sensory disabilities, as well as the contribution of consumption to…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims at revealing the process of identity reconstruction for individuals who have acquired sensory disabilities, as well as the contribution of consumption to this process.

Methodology/approach

The data was collected through both interviews conducted in France and autobiographical accounts.

Findings

When disability occurs, individuals go through a rite of passage that shapes their identity reconstruction process. Two forms of liminality appear: acute and sustained liminality. These phases can foster or hamper individuals’ identity reconstruction.

Research limitations/implications

The mechanisms leading from one stage of the identity reconstruction process to another should be deepened through further research.

Practical/social implications

Given the fluctuating behaviors of consumers with disabilities, especially in view of their identity reconstruction process, this research encourages retailers and public policy actors not to consider them as a homogeneous consumer segment.

Originality/value

While scholars dealing with consumers with disabilities have mainly focused on the accessibility of the marketplace, this research disentangles their identity issues.

Details

Consumer Culture Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-323-5

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2020

Sigrid Westad Brandshaug and Ela Sjølie

The aim of this paper is to introduce the concept of liminality as a theoretical lens to explore and discuss how challenges, accompanied by frustrations and confusion, can…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to introduce the concept of liminality as a theoretical lens to explore and discuss how challenges, accompanied by frustrations and confusion, can enable significant learning in a teamwork setting. Student team narratives on how they handle challenges they face working to solve real-world problems are used as the basis for the discussion.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a case study using student narratives from an interdisciplinary master course at a Norwegian university.

Findings

We argue that the concept of liminality can support teachers and student teams to understand and handle challenges in ways that enable significant learning and innovation. Practical implications for teachers and facilitators are provided at the end of the paper.

Originality/value

This paper offers new lenses to understand the team- and learning processes in courses where students work with real-world problems. If the teams are able to stay open in the liminality phase it enables significant learning and innovation. This capacity is valuable in a time where teams face complexity and uncertainty is becoming more of a standard than an exception, both in higher education and in working life.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Elizabeth Daniel and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick

The purpose of this paper is to apply the theoretical lens of liminality to a consideration of non-traditional entrepreneurial locations. The study exemplifies such…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to apply the theoretical lens of liminality to a consideration of non-traditional entrepreneurial locations. The study exemplifies such locations by empirically exploring self-storage based businesses: that is, businesses that operate for a significant number of hours each week from self-storage facilities.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on interviews with entrepreneurs operating self-storage based businesses and operators of self-storage facilities. The interview data is supported by site visits, businesses’ websites, promotional and marketing materials and press coverage.

Findings

Consistent with the liminal lens, entrepreneurs view their time operating from self-storage as a transitional phase. They do not suffer the high levels of uncertainty and unsettledness usually associated with liminality. However, they experience anxiety related to perceptions of operating from a business location outside the mainstream. Whilst the entrepreneurs benefit from additional services provided by the self-storage operators, this may be at the expense of extra “liminal” work and anxiety experienced by the storage operators’ staff.

Originality/value

The study contributes to entrepreneurship by answering Steyaert and Katz’s (2004) call for studies in unfamiliar places and spaces. The authors identify a number of ways in which liminality can arise when considering entrepreneurial locations. Drawing on extant entrepreneurial studies, the authors theorise that idiosyncratic characteristics of such spaces attract entrepreneurs with particular personal characteristics and needs, who will in turn be influenced by those spaces. In the case of self-storage facilities, the liminal space allows trepidatious entrepreneurs to “try on” (Hawkins and Edwards, 2015, p. 39) operating a new venture.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2019

Jens Eklinder Frick, Vincent Hocine Jean Fremont, Lars-Johan Åge and Aihie Osarenkhoe

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the benefits and drawbacks that strategically imposed liminality inflicts upon inter-organizational digitalization efforts within…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the benefits and drawbacks that strategically imposed liminality inflicts upon inter-organizational digitalization efforts within the different phases of its utilization.

Design/methodology/approach

This study empirically examines digitalization in a large multinational manufacturing company, Sandvik Machining Solutions, using data that were collected through interviews and a qualitative research design.

Findings

This study shows that a liminal space separated from the structures in which one is supposed to inflict changes increases the risk of developing an incompatible system that will be rejected in the incorporation phase. An inter-organizational perspective on liminality thus contributes to our understanding of the benefits and drawbacks that liminal space can pose for the organizations involved.

Practical implications

The study suggests that, in the separation phase, driving change processes by creating liminal spaces could be a way to loosen up rigid resource structures and circumvent network over-embeddedness. Finding the right amount of freedom, ambiguity and community within the liminal space is, however, essential for the transition of information as well as the incorporation of the imposed changes.

Originality/value

Introducing an inter-organizational perspective on liminality contributes to our understanding of the stress that liminal space can place on individuals as well as the individual organization.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2017

Nicole Gross and Susi Geiger

Focussing on the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship, the purpose of this paper is to advance an understanding of entrepreneurial practice in phases of radical change…

Abstract

Purpose

Focussing on the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship, the purpose of this paper is to advance an understanding of entrepreneurial practice in phases of radical change, which the authors conceptualize as periods of liminality. A particular focus on the management of tension is taken to investigate destabilization of practices, sources of resistance and enablers of change during shifts from a familiar past into an unfamiliar and uncertain future.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory longitudinal study of a single case firm was conducted to study the entrepreneurial change process during radical transition phases. To understand and theorize liminality and practice renewal in the entrepreneurial firm, the authors leveraged data collection tools from ethnography and engaged in data analysis inspired by grounded theory.

Findings

The authors build a process model of becoming that maps the following processes: destabilizing incumbent practices, sources of resistance and enablers of change, acceptance of upheaval and trying on a new state of being. A research agenda for future research in this area is also formulated.

Originality/value

The research contributes to contemporary entrepreneurship-as-practice research and to research considering the concept of liminality in entrepreneurship. Through processual theory building based on empirical research, the authors highlight that simultaneously handling the practices of the past whilst breeding new trajectories in an unknown future create tensions that can make or break the entrepreneurial firm.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 5 September 2018

Svjetlana Pantic-Dragisic and Elisabeth Borg

The purpose of this paper is to explore how a technical consulting firm approaches the development of engineering consultants, to prepare them to deal with their liminal…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how a technical consulting firm approaches the development of engineering consultants, to prepare them to deal with their liminal, i.e. mobile and transient work situation. More specifically, this paper addresses how a training program, designed for newly graduated engineers, can increase the consultants’ liminality competence.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on a qualitative case study of an introductory development program in a Scandinavian technical consulting firm. The study is based on observations of training sessions and meetings, and interviews with developers, leaders and participants of the program.

Findings

This study identifies three processes, which develop the engineering consultants’ ability to master their mobile and transient work situation: identifying the core of an assignment, embracing “in-betweenness” and broadening the scope of action.

Originality/value

This paper enhances the understanding of formal training in the context of technical consulting and adds to the knowledge of how engineering consultants can master their liminal work positions; in particular, the study identifies how liminality competence can be elevated through formal training.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 42 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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