Expertise is a key currency in today’s knowledge economy. Yet as experts increasingly move across work contexts, how expertise translates across contexts is less well understood. Here, we examine how a shift in context—which reorders the relative attention experts pay to distinct types of audiences—redefines what it means to be an expert. Our study’s setting is an established expertise in the creative industry: puppet manipulation. Through an examination of U.S. puppeteers’ move from stage to screen (i.e., film and television), we show that, although the two settings call on mostly similar techniques, puppeteers on stage ground their claims to expertise in a dialogue with spectators and view expertise as achieving believability; by contrast, puppeteers on screen invoke the need to deliver on cue when dealing with producers, directors, and co-workers and view expertise as achieving task mastery. When moving between stage and screen, puppeteers therefore prioritize the needs of certain audiences over others’ and gradually reshape their own views of expertise. Our findings embed the nature of expertise in experts’ ordering of types of audiences to attend to and provide insights for explaining how expertise can shift and become co-opted by workplaces
Scholars have long debated how rigor can be achieved in qualitative analysis. To answer this question, we need to better understand how theory is generated from data. Qualitative analysis is, at its core, a categorization process. Nevertheless, despite a surge of interest in categorization within the social sciences, insights from categorization theory have not yet been applied to our understanding of qualitative analysis. Drawing from categorization theory, we argue that the movement from data to theory is an active process in which researchers choose between multiple moves that help them to make sense of their data. In addition, we develop a framework of the main moves that people use when they categorize data and demonstrate that evidence of these moves can also be found in past qualitative scholarship. Our framework emphasizes that if we are not sufficiently reflexive and explicit about the active analytical processes that generate theoretical insights, we cannot be transparent and, thus, rigorous about how we analyze data. We discuss the implications of our framework for increasing rigor in qualitative analysis, for actively constructing categories from data, and for spurring more methodological plurality within qualitative theory building.
Becoming a manager is generally seen as a highly coveted step up the career ladder that corresponds to a gain in responsibility. There is evidence, however, that some individuals experience "managerial blues" or disenchantment with their managerial jobs after being promoted. While past scholarship points to individual differences (such as skills inadequacy) or the promotion circumstances (such as involuntary) as possible explanations for such blues, less is known as to how the expectations that people carry with them from past jobs – such as expectations about what responsibility entails – may shape their first managerial experience. To answer this question, we compare the experiences of supervisors coming from different jobs – i.e., former Paris subway drivers (working independently and impacting the lives of others) and station agents (working interdependently with limited impact on others’ lives) – that left them with distinct sets of expectations around responsibility. Drawing on interviews and observations, we find that former drivers developed a deep sense of "personal" responsibility. After promotion, their perceived managerial responsibility paled in comparison to their expectations of what it felt like to have personal responsibility, leading the majority to experience managerial blues. In contrast, former agents had few expectations of what responsibility entailed and reported no disenchantment once they joined the managerial ranks. Overall, we show how imprinted expectations shape people’s future managerial experiences, including their managerial blues, and discuss the implications of our findings for literatures on job mobility and job design.
A key assumption in past literature has been that human services workers become emotionally distant from their charges (such as clients or patients). Such distancing is said to protect workers from the emotionally draining aspects of the job but creates challenges to feeling and behaving compassionately. Because little is known about when and how compassion occurs under these circumstances, we conducted a multi-phased qualitative study of 119 correctional officers in the U.S. using interviews and observations. Officers’ accounts and our observations of their interactions with inmates included cruel, disciplinary, unemotional, and compassionate treatment. Such treatment varied by the situations that officers faced, and compassion was surprisingly common when inmates were misbehaving—challenging current understanding of the occurrence of compassion at work. Examining officers’ accounts more closely, we uncovered a novel way that we theorize human services workers can be compassionate, even under such difficult circumstances. We find that officers describe engaging in practices in which they (a) relate to others by leveling group-based differences between themselves and their charges and (b) engaged in self-protection by shielding themselves from the negative emotions triggered by their charges. We posit that the combined use of such practices offsets different emotional tensions in the work, rather than only providing emotional distance, and in doing so, can foster compassionate treatment under some of the most trying situations and organizational barriers to compassion.
Ghostwriters represent a form of labor aimed at producing someone else’s self, or what we label “stand-in labor.” This growing workforce sits at the intersection of critical developments in today’s neoliberal economy: the rise in self-branding, the growth in outsourcing of the self, and mounting income inequality. This article explores the experience of stand-in workers and its implication on the economy of self. Relying on 72 interviews with ghostwriters and publishing industry insiders, we show that ghostwriters face recognition estrangement because they are often asked to stay out of public view for the crafted selves to prove “authentic.” As creative workers with a high degree of investment in their work, ghostwriters are quite sensitive to this form of estrangement. They manage this tension in a unique way: they claim a professional need to disappear in order to properly put forth a subject’s “true” voice, yet emphasize their active contribution to the crafting of a subject’s public self that differs from the subject’s “true” self. In doing so, ghostwriters alter the subjects they impersonate by creating a distance between the subjects’ crafted and “actual” selves. Our study therefore uncovers a paradoxical dynamic—namely, taking professional pride in disappearing, yet reappearing in the act of altering others’ selves—that we posit might prove inherent to the performance of stand-in labor. More broadly, we suggest that many stand-in workers engaged in this growing economy of self might alter the people they impersonate, thus leading to a situation where calls for authenticity breed adulteration.
In the past few decades, the growth of surveillance has become a fixture of organizational life. Past scholarship has largely explained this growth as the result of traditional managerial demands for added control over workers, coupled with newly available cheap technology (such as closed-circuit televisions and body-worn cameras). We draw on the workplace resistance literature to complement these views by suggesting that workers can also drive such growth. More specifically, we show that workers under surveillance can feel constantly observed and seen, but also can feel largely unnoticed as individuals by management. This paradoxical experience leads them to interpret the surveillance as coercive and to engage in invisibility practices to attempt to go unseen and remain unnoticed. Management, in turn, interprets these attempts as justification for more surveillance, which encourages workers to engage in even more invisibility practices, thus creating a self-fulfilling cycle of coercive surveillance. Our study therefore offers one of the first endogenous explanations for the growth of surveillance while also isolating unique forms of resistance attached to such surveillance.
The sociologist Michel Crozier went to North America several times, including visits to the universities of California, Harvard, Michigan, and Stanford. He always saw himself as a friend, even an admirer, of the United States. But what scholarly impact did he have on the US field of organizational behavior? Relying on an analysis of Crozier’s citation-impact within a sample of organizational behavior journals, this article demonstrates that his footprint on this academic field proved fairly light. His refusal to adopt a unitary normative approach can in part explain this relatively limited impact. Crozier preferred to unearth multiple truths (plural) rather than only one truth (singular). His ideology of non-ideology might otherwise have gained more followers in certain faculties, most notably at the Harvard Business School, where his position echoed the dominant viewpoint.
Impression management refers to the regulation of one’s self-presentation in social interactions. This article examines whether self-monitoring–a ubiquitous social psychological construct that captures the extent to which individuals regulate their self-presentation to match the expectation of others–varies across demographic and social contexts. Building on Erving Goffman’s classic insights on stigma management, we expect that the propensity for self-monitoring will be greater among sexual minorities, especially in areas where the stigma surrounding minority sexual orientations is strong. Our survey of U.S. adults shows that sexual minorities report significantly higher levels of self-monitoring than heterosexuals and that this difference disappears in large cities. These findings speak to sociological research on self-presentation, with implications for the literatures on identity formation, stigma management, and labor markets.
In this article, we examine a case of task segregation— when a group of workers is disproportionately allocated, relative to other groups, to spend more time on specific tasks in a given job—and argue that such segregation is a potential mechanism for generating within-job inequality in the quality of a job. When performing those tasks is undesirable, this allocation has unfavorable implications for that group’s experienced job quality. We articulate the processes by which task segregation can lead to workplace inequality in job quality through an inductive, interview-based case study of airport security-screening workers at a unit of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at a large urban airport. Female workers were disproportionately allocated to the pat-down task, the manual screening of travelers for prohibited items. Our findings suggest that this segregation led to overall poorer job quality outcomes for women. Task segregation overexposed female workers to processes of physical exertion, emotional labor, and relational strain, giving rise to work intensity, emotional exhaustion, and lack of coping resources. Task segregation also disproportionately exposed female workers to managerial sanctions for taking recuperative time off and a narrowing of their skill set that may have contributed to worse promotion chances, pay, satisfaction, and turnover rates for women. We conclude with a theoretical model of how task segregation can act as a mechanism for generating within-job inequality in job quality.
Management and organizational scholarship is overdue for a reappraisal of occupations and professions as well as a critical review of past and current work on the topic. Indeed, the field has largely failed to keep pace with the rising salience of occupational and professional—as opposed to organizational—dynamics in work life. Moreover, not only is there a dearth of studies that explicitly take occupational or professional categories into account, but there is also an absence of a shared analytical framework for understanding what occupations and professions entail. Our goal is therefore two-fold: first, to offer guidance to scholars less familiar with this terrain who encounter occupational or professional dynamics in their own inquiries and, second, to introduce a three-part framework for conceptualizing occupations and professions to help guide future inquiries. We suggest that occupations and professions can be understood through lenses of “becoming,” “doing,” and “relating.” We develop this framework as we review past literature and discuss the implications of each approach for future research and, more broadly, for the field of management and organizational theory.
Business schools offer a unique window into the making of corporate morals since they bring together future executives at formative moments in their professional lives. And business school faculty members play a crucial role in shaping these morals. This article relies on an analysis of faculty members’ teaching tasks at the Harvard Business School to better understand the making of corporate morals. More specifically, it builds on a coding of teaching notes used by faculty members in the first-year MBA curriculum to highlight the importance of silence in promoting a culture of moral relativism. Indeed, while notes heavily script faculty members’ teaching tasks and cast business decisions as matters of individual choice, they also remain silent on the moral compass that might guide these choices; allowing for moral relativism to prevail. Put otherwise, faculty’s teaching tasks are structured to promote moral silence or refrain from passing judgment on any given moral viewpoints. In doing so, a form of moral pluralism or relativism is promoted. The ideology of silence that guides and gets reflected in faculty’s teaching tasks, constitutes, I argue, a powerful ideology—one allowing multiple viewpoints to flourish and also protecting (future) business leaders from critical assessment. An ideology of silence implicitly primes business leaders not to vilify any moral stand, but also justifies almost all stands. This structuring of faculty members’ teaching tasks proves extremely consequential. In this context, almost anything can now be labeled “moral” and thus nothing can be deemed “immoral.”
Numerous scholars have noted the disproportionately high number of gay and lesbian workers in certain occupations, but systematic explanations for this type of occupational segregation remain elusive. Drawing on the literatures on concealable stigma and stigma management, we develop a theoretical framework predicting that gay men and lesbians will concentrate in occupations that provide a high degree of task independence or require a high level of social perceptiveness, or both. Using several distinct measures of sexual orientation, and controlling for potential confounds, we find support for these predictions across two nationally representative surveys in the United States. Consistent with prior research, lesbian and gay workers are more likely than heterosexual workers to cross gender lines in occupations, but even after controlling for this tendency, we show that common to both lesbians and gay men is a propensity to concentrate in those lines of work that are associated with relatively high levels of task independence or social perceptiveness, or both. This study points to a more comprehensive theory of occupational segregation on the basis of minority sexual orientation and holds implications for the literatures on stigma, occupations, and labor markets.
Over the past generation, sexual minorities—particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons—have gained increased visibility in the public arena. Yet organizational research has lagged behind in recognizing and studying this category of organizational members. This article offers a critical review of this growing body of research. More specifically, we identify and discuss four dominant scholarly frames that have informed LGBT organizational research from the late nineteenth century to date. The frames include a “medical abnormality,” “deviant social role,” “collective identity,” and “social distinctiveness” view of sexual minorities. We argue that these frames have profoundly shaped the scope and range of organizational scholarship devoted to sexual minorities by showing that scholars using such contrasted frames have been drawn to very different research questions with respect to sexual minorities. We document and discuss the main and contrasted questions asked within each of these frames and show how they have both enabled and constrained LGBT organizational research. We conclude by calling for more attention to the frames organizational scholars adopt when studying sexual minorities, but also for more research on both minority and majority sexual orientations in organizations.
The number of human cadavers available for medical research and training, as well as organ transplantation, is limited. Researchers disagree about how to increase the number of whole-body bequeathals, citing a shortage of donations from the one group perceived as most likely to donate from attitudinal survey data e educated white males over 65. This focus on survey data, however, suffers from two main limitations: First, it reveals little about individuals’ actual registration or donation behavior. Second, past studies’ reliance on average survey measures may have concealed variation within the donor population. To address these shortcomings, we employ cluster analysis on all whole-body donors’ data from the Universities of California at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two donor groups emerge from the analyses: One is made of slightly younger, educated, married individuals, an overwhelming portion of whom are U.S.-born and have U.S.-born parents, while the second includes mostly older, separated women with some college education, a relatively higher share of whom are foreign-born and have foreign-born parents. Our results demonstrate the presence of additional donor groups within and beyond the group of educated and elderly white males previously assumed to be most likely to donate. More broadly, our results suggest how the intersectional nature of donors’ demographics e in particular, gender and migration status e shapes the configuration of the donor pool, signaling new ways to possibly increase donations.
Multiple forces that shape the identities of adolescents and young adults also influence their subsequent career choices. Early work experiences are key among these forces. Recognizing this, youth service programs have emerged worldwide with the hope of shaping participants’ future trajectories through boosting engagement in civically oriented activities and work. Despite these goals, past research on these programs’ impact has yielded mixed outcomes. Our goal is to understand why this might be the case. We rely on interview, archival, and longitudinal survey data to examine young adults’ experiences of a European youth service program. A core feature of youth service programs, namely their dual identity of helping others (i.e., service beneficiaries) and helping oneself (i.e., participants), might partly explain the program's mixed outcomes. We find that participants focus on one of the organization’s identities largely to the exclusion of the other, creating a dynamic in which their interactions with members who focus on the other identity create challenges and dominate their program experience, to the detriment of a focus on the organization and its goals. This suggests that a previously overlooked feature of youth service programs (i.e., their dual identity) might prove both a blessing for attracting many diverse members and a curse for achieving desired outcomes. More broadly, our results suggest that dual identity organizations might attract members focused on a select identity, but fail to imbue them with a blended identity; thus, limiting the extent to which such organizations can truly “redirect” future career choices.
Human cadavers are crucial to numerous aspects of health care, including initial and continuing training of medical doctors and advancement of medical research. Concerns have periodically been raised about the limited number of whole body donations. Little is known, however, about a unique form of donation, namely co-donations or instances when married individuals decide to register at the same time as their spouse as whole body donors. Our study aims to determine the extent of whole body co-donation and individual factors that might influence co-donation.
We reviewed all records of registrants to the University of Hawaii Medical School’s whole body donation program from 1967 through 2006 to identify married registrants. We then examined the 806 married individuals’ characteristics to understand their decision to register alone or with their spouse. We found that married individuals who registered at the same time as their spouse accounted for 38.2 percent of married registrants. Sex differences provided an initial lens to understand co-donation. Wives were more likely to co-donate than to register alone (p = 0.002). Moreover, registrants’ main occupational background had a significant effect on co-donations (p = 0.001). Married registrants (regardless of sex) in female-gendered occupations were more likely to co-donate than to donate alone (p = 0.014). Female-gendered occupations were defined as ones in which women represented more than 55 percent of the workforce (e.g., preschool teachers). Thus, variations in donors’ occupational backgrounds explained co-donation above and beyond sex differences.
Efforts to secure whole body donations have historically focused on individual donations regardless of donors’ marital status. More attention needs to be paid, however, to co-donations since they represent a non-trivial number of total donations. Also, targeted outreach efforts to male and female members of female-gendered occupations might prove a successful way to increase donations through co-donations.