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
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.
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.
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.
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.
This spring the Freelancers Union conducted an online survey to find out who freelancers are, how they work and how they are faring.1 With more than 2,800 participants in the New York metropolitan area, this survey is one of the first efforts to get a comprehensive picture of New York’s independent workers. Four key findings emerged from the results:
1 - Freelancers are highly educated and participate in key sectors of the city’s economy as workers and as potential consumers. • 85% of New York’s freelancer respondents have at least a college degree. • The highest concentration work in the city’s key industries: advertising, publishing, film and television, technology and the arts. • Their median income is $50,000, 20% higher than the city’s overall median.
2 - Freelancers are fleeing corporate America. • More than 60% cited some form of freedom (from office politics, difficult bosses, cubicles and commutes) as a main benefit to their lifestyle. • 86% cited having a “flexible schedule” as one of the main advantages of freelancing.
3 - Freelancers are an emerging constituency and they vote in record numbers. • More than half (53%) see themselves as members of a freelancer community. • 100% of respondents have voted in a national election, 87% in a state election and 83% in a local election.
4 - Freelancers who responded to our survey fall out of the social safety net. • About 28% of freelancers who participated in the survey spent some portion of the last year without health insurance. • Less than half (47%) save money for retirement each month.
The survey findings indicate that freelancers are entrepreneurial workers who succeed because of their creativity, independence and drive. They contribute to key sectors of the New York City economy and are an engaged constituency.
But freelancers’ struggles are perhaps even more telling. Operating entirely outside of the safety net of employer-provided benefits, their experience illustrates the grave flaws in our system of social insurance, which limits access to health insurance and retirement plans to those with traditional employment relationships. Furthermore, as the employer-sponsored benefits system continues to erode, independent workers might well be the proverbial canaries in the coal mine demonstrating to traditional employees what their future might hold. Freelancers’ experiences have long-term implications for New York City and its public policy, as well as for the entire country.
The extensive literature on organizational wrongdoing tends to assume that a clear red line divides the moral terrain. However, many organizations function not as moral orders, but as moral pursuits in which there is intentionally no explicit definition of right and wrong; members are encouraged to engage in an ongoing pursuit of personal morality. We use illustrations from field sites in which red lines proved either well-defined or elusive to theorize differences in forms of wrongdoing in moral orders versus moral pursuits. More specifically, we explore cases in which organizational actors seek to (re)define right and wrong and to pursue actions that they consider moral, but that others in their setting consider wrongdoing. We identify two sets of misaligned moral strategies: one involving moral hijacking, moral assembling, and moral blurring that occurs when individuals engage in a moral pursuit from within the context of a moral order; and another involving moral circumscribing, moral spotlighting, and moral seceding that occurs when individuals seek to establish a moral order from within a moral pursuit. We develop this typology to highlight the importance of context in defining wrongdoing, and to better understand the variety of wrongdoing in organizations.