chapter  7
22 Pages

History/herstory

An introduction to the problems of studying the gendering of organizational culture over time
ByAlbert J. Mills

Rowlinson and Procter (1999: 369-370) contend that the utilization of an organizational culture perspective can provide ‘theoretical relevance for business history’ but conclude that this potential ‘has not been fulfilled’ due, in large part, to the ‘conventions that divide business history from organizational culture studies’. The chosen approach, they continue, ‘is not a function of what is being studied but represents the preferences of the researcher for how research should be done’ (Rowlinson and Procter, 1999: 389, emphasis in the original). This problem is magnified when we consider the issues and concerns that divide feminists from business historians and mainstream approaches to organizational culture. This chapter reviews some of the key problems involved in developing a study of the gendering of organizational culture over time. The chapter begins by making the argument for why feminists should study the cultures of organizations. It then moves on to consider the problem of developing an appropriate theoretical framework – examining issues of focus, terms, assumptions, methods of study, and feminist divides. Finally it considers some of the problems involved in studying organizational culture over time, including questions of feminist historiography, the selection of a particular organizational culture, time, progress versus change, corporate histories and archival materials, and creating a sense of organization over time. Some of the problems are illustrated through reference to an ongoing study of the gendering of British Airways.