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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Steve McKenna and Julia Richardson

The purpose of this paper is to offer an ontological and methodological alternative to the functionalist paradigm which currently dominates study of the self-initiated…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer an ontological and methodological alternative to the functionalist paradigm which currently dominates study of the self-initiated expatriate (SIE). It argues conceptually, and with a practical example, that actor-network theory (ANT) offers an alternative way forward. While the functionalist study of SIE seeks to generate knowledge of value to organizations, ANT seeks to produce practical knowledge from the viewpoint of the SIE(s).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper critiques the dominant functionalist approach to the study of SIE through ANT. A case history of a geographically mobile professional is offered to support the use of ANT as an ontological and methodological alternative in this field.

Findings

By following the actors through their own stories of mobility the authors argue that it is possible to offer alternative ways of investigating and understanding mobility. In particular, actors enact mobility in unique ways as they move and are, therefore, not easily categorized and in singular classifications, such as the “SIE.”

Originality/value

The study of SIE is an important emerging field of expatriate research. It is currently dominated by the functionalist paradigm. The paper offers an alternative ontological and methodological approach to the study of this field through the use of ANT. In this sense the authors challenge the developing dominant discourse of functionalism currently driving research on this topic.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2019

Sophie Hennekam, Subramaniam Ananthram and Steve McKenna

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how individuals perceive and react to the involuntary demotion of a co-worker in their organisation.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how individuals perceive and react to the involuntary demotion of a co-worker in their organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on 46 semi-structured in-depth interviews (23 dyads) with co-workers of demoted individuals.

Findings

The findings suggest that an individual’s observation of the demotion of a co-worker has three stages: their perception of fairness, their emotional reaction and their behavioural reaction. The perception of fairness concerned issues of distributive, procedural, interpersonal and informational justice. The emotional responses identified were feelings of disappointment/disillusion, uncertainty, vulnerability and anger. Finally, the behavioural reactions triggered by their emotional responses included expressions of voice, loyalty, exit and adaptation.

Originality/value

Perceptions of (in)justice perpetrated on others stimulate emotional and behavioural responses, which impacts organisational functioning. Managers should therefore pay attention to the way a demotion is perceived, not only by those directly concerned, but also by co-workers as observers.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 41 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1999

Steve McKenna

Countless organisations have developed “lists” of management competencies based on behavioural criteria. The objective of this competency development is to build a more…

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1921

Abstract

Countless organisations have developed “lists” of management competencies based on behavioural criteria. The objective of this competency development is to build a more competent managerial group in the context of a rapidly changing environment. This paper argues that most sets of “management competencies” are developed without recognition of their inherent contradictions and without due regard to their contextuality. Through the use of storytelling as a methodology, two case histories are outlined to show how competence is subject to, firstly, subjective interpretation and preference and, secondly, to the specific context in which behaviour takes place. The implications for management and organisational development are then discussed.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2016

Steve McKenna and Amanda Peticca-Harris

This paper aims to present two objectives. The first objective is to identify the academic knowledge interests (managerial, agentic, curatorial and critical) prevalent in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present two objectives. The first objective is to identify the academic knowledge interests (managerial, agentic, curatorial and critical) prevalent in research on global careers. The second objective is to consider and critique the discourse constructed and perpetuated in academic texts on global careers concerning globalization, global careers and the global careerist.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a critical discourse analysis, the paper analyzes 66 articles and book chapters and one book on the subject of a global career. The authors positioned the texts into one of the four academic knowledge interests – managerial, agentic, curatorial and critical. The texts were also analyzed with respect to the discourse manifested in relation to globalization, global careers and the global careerist.

Findings

The authors found that the texts were driven by primarily managerial academic knowledge interests, followed by agentic and curatorial interests. Very few reflected critical knowledge interests. In addition, texts on global careers accept the globalization of business as natural and unproblematic and, consequently, construct a discourse about the global career and the global careerist which fits the idea that global business expansion in its current form is inevitable and inescapable.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to analyze the academic knowledge production and discourse on “global careers” and the “global careerist” as it is emerging among career scholars. It is also one of the very few articles offering a more critical perspective on global careers specifically and careers more generally.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2015

Steve McKenna, M.N. Ravishankar and David Weir

– The purpose of this paper is to introduce the papers in the special issue.

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479

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the papers in the special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

A general description of each paper in the special issue is provided. The introduction highlights the need for more research into the broad topic of the global elite.

Findings

Research in the social sciences uses a very broad definition of the global elite. It would be helpful in critical management and organization studies and critical international business research, to begin to identify important and key research areas that enable a more critical investigation of whom the global elite are and how they might be studied.

Originality/value

This paper introduces five diverse papers that deal with issues pertaining to a global elite and transnational capitalist class.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2007

Steve McKenna

The purpose of this paper is to self‐reflexively deconstruct a paper published by the author in 1996 about a Singaporean entrepreneur for whom the author worked. Through…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to self‐reflexively deconstruct a paper published by the author in 1996 about a Singaporean entrepreneur for whom the author worked. Through the deconstruction a number of important methodological and epistemological issues are raised. Firstly, the way in which the value of qualitative research in management and organization studies is judged more by how it conforms to acceptable ways of data collection, analysis and interpretation (strategic apparatus) than on any “truth” value it may have. Secondly, a consideration of how the “I” of the researcher is influential in how research is undertaken and written up. Thirdly, that this “I” of the researcher is also determined by what is acceptable “scientific” discourse and by other prevailing discourses.

Design/methodology/approach

In a paper published in 1996, the author detailed the “dark side” of an entrepreneur for whom he worked. Using a psychoanalytic framework this paper constructed the entrepreneur as an irrational and unethical incompetent. In the present paper, this earlier work is deconstructed using insights from Derrida's in order to highlight “strategic exclusions,” and to offer alternative readings. These alternative readings emphasize the influence of various discourses on the construction of the earlier paper, and also introduce a reading of the earlier paper as a psychoanalytic narrative.

Findings

The paper highlights the uses to which “objective tools” of analysis can be put in order to manipulate and construct an explanation and interpretation of personal experiences. This raises important epistemological issues concerning the influence of broader discourses on the representation of experiences and how realities and identities are constructed and performed. The paper concludes by suggesting that whom we are as researchers, and what we observe and write, is more complex and influenced by more discourse(s) than we might think. Even if researchers tell impressionistic and confessional tales simultaneously with their realist ones, it is necessary to consider what discourses may lay behind their telling. It has been argued that a limitation of deconstruction is that it may result in endless iterations and readings of text with no discursive closure. This may be a limitation of the deconstruction offered here.

Originality/value

The paper raises questions about the nature of the “academic” narrative and the importance of deconstruction in establishing author positioning within narrative. It contributes to the discussion about objectivity in organizational and management research and issues of epistemology and ontology more generally.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2003

Steve McKenna and Julia Richardson

This paper investigates the managerial life and experiences of a group of service leaders in one region of the New Zealand health service. Through a complexity map…

Abstract

This paper investigates the managerial life and experiences of a group of service leaders in one region of the New Zealand health service. Through a complexity map methodology, creative interviewing, participant storytelling and presentation of their experiential narratives, the paper seeks to investigate how service leaders make sense of their complexity. First, the paper outlines the New Zealand health service context. Second, the paper introduces the sample of managers involved in the study. Third, the methodological framework of the study is outlined. Fourth, the data collected are described in the context of Gabriel's “tropes of story work”. Fifth, the concept of “narrative thought” is introduced to interpret the use of attributions by health service managers as a means of fulfilling their needs and desires. The paper concludes by suggesting that through narrative sense‐making managers are able to maintain a strong sense of self and identity even in stressful, pressurised, difficult and complex circumstances.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2013

Amanda Peticca‐Harris and Steve McKenna

Through a single‐person career/life history of a human resource (HR) manager, the purpose of this paper is to illuminate the relationship between professional identity and…

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4178

Abstract

Purpose

Through a single‐person career/life history of a human resource (HR) manager, the purpose of this paper is to illuminate the relationship between professional identity and “being” a manager in the context of a “whole life”.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach of this paper is to use an extended interview with a single HR management professional to consider the complexities and discontinuities of managing a professional and personal life. The interview is considered in light of Alvesson's seven images of self‐identity.

Findings

Managers are constantly negotiating a professional identity, “being” a manager and a career in the context of their whole life. In developing managers in an increasingly stressful and competitive environment, the intersection between the various elements of a manager's life should be taken into account.

Research limitations/implications

Closer attention should be paid to the lives of managers in the context of their identity and careers. Research should more closely consider, in detail, the lived experiences of managers and professionals.

Practical implications

Management development should focus on lived experiences of managers rather than competency and skill development. Managerial performance is related to the coping and sensemaking that occurs within specific contexts and management development professionals should focus more on these aspects of a “managerial life”.

Originality/value

The value of the paper is in highlighting the importance of very focussed and very personal management development.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 32 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2010

Steve McKenna

The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of expatriate adjustment through naturally occurring data. Specifically, through an investigation of three e‐mails sent to…

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1563

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of expatriate adjustment through naturally occurring data. Specifically, through an investigation of three e‐mails sent to the author by a friend, Doug, the paper explores the notion that adjustment is a fluid concept and that through qualitative research methods it is possible to appreciate the expatriate experience in the context of an expatriate's “whole life” of experiences. This is in contrast to positivist approaches to the study of adjustment which offer limited snapshots of adjustment at particular moments in time.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates three e‐mails sent by Doug to the author. The e‐mails constitute a form of naturally occurring data, and through forms of narrative analysis the e‐mails are able to be examined to throw light on the process of expatriate adjustment.

Findings

The paper highlights ways in which qualitative research methods generally, and specifically when used in relation to expatriates, enable a fuller understanding of the processes of “adjustment” that expatriates experience and its relationship to their life as a “work in progress”. This type of research approach and analysis complements the more positivist study of expatriates. In some aspects it supports research findings on adjustment, but it serves to humanize the independent expatriate and their experience.

Research limitations/implications

The research is a case study of only a single subject. The paper suggests the potential for using naturally occurring data in the study of expatriates and independent expatriates in particular.

Practical implications

Stories of the experiences of expatriation offer insightful and “real” access to the lived experience of the expatriate. In this sense, they can be much more powerful than other forms of cross‐cultural training.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the importance of naturally occurring data and the need to consider “whole lives” in the past and present, of research “participants”.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1998

Steve McKenna

The current trend among corporations to clearly identify management behavioural competencies, that would enable managers to perform more effectively, has led to many…

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4973

Abstract

The current trend among corporations to clearly identify management behavioural competencies, that would enable managers to perform more effectively, has led to many developing what are apparently the dimensions of effective management and leadership behaviour. There are many problems with this overly simplistic approach, one of which is the transferability of the definitions of competencies across cultures. In this paper, 138 middle managers were studied from a North American telecommunications corporation. They were asked to comment on the various dimensions of the overall competence “leadership”, as it was defined by the corporation’s human resource development group. It was found that there was little broad cross‐cultural agreement on these dimensions among the managers surveyed which points to the difficulty, and indeed, validity, of attempts to develop generic, global management competencies. The paper suggests that MNCs are “colonisers” through their attempts to shape the behaviour of local personnel in the context of competencies.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

Keywords

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