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Intersectionality Theory and Practice  

Doyin Atewologun

Intersectionality is a critical framework that provides us with the mindset and language for examining interconnections and interdependencies between social categories and systems. Intersectionality is relevant for researchers and for practitioners because it enhances analytical sophistication and offers theoretical explanations of the ways in which heterogeneous members of specific groups (such as women) might experience the workplace differently depending on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or class and other social locations. Sensitivity to such differences enhances insight into issues of social justice and inequality in organizations and other institutions, thus maximizing the chance of social change. The concept of intersectional locations emerged from the racialized experiences of minority ethnic women in the United States. Intersectional thinking has gained increased prominence in business and management studies, particularly in critical organization studies. A predominant focus in this field is on individual subjectivities at intersectional locations (such as examining the occupational identities of minority ethnic women). This emphasis on individuals’ experiences and within-group differences has been described variously as “content specialization” or an “intracategorical approach.” An alternate focus in business and management studies is on highlighting systematic dynamics of power. This encompasses a focus on “systemic intersectionality” and an “intercategorical approach.” Here, scholars examine multiple between-group differences, charting shifting configurations of inequality along various dimensions. As a critical theory, intersectionality conceptualizes knowledge as situated, contextual, relational, and reflective of political and economic power. Intersectionality tends to be associated with qualitative research methods due to the central role of giving voice, elicited through focus groups, narrative interviews, action research, and observations. Intersectionality is also utilized as a methodological tool for conducting qualitative research, such as by researchers adopting an intersectional reflexivity mindset. Intersectionality is also increasingly associated with quantitative and statistical methods, which contribute to intersectionality by helping us understand and interpret the individual, combined (additive or multiplicative) effects of various categories (privileged and disadvantaged) in a given context. Future considerations for intersectionality theory and practice include managing its broad applicability while attending to its sociopolitical and emancipatory aims, and theoretically advancing understanding of the simultaneous forces of privilege and penalty in the workplace.

Article

Board Processes and Performance: The Impact of Directors’ Social and Human Capital  

Morten Huse

What do we know about actual board behavior and board performance? How can we develop our knowledge about board processes and board members’ capabilities? As a research field grows into maturity, we learn to see nuances, and the vocabulary used becomes richer and more detailed. However, the development of a consistent and nuanced language in research about board processes and performance is lagging behind. How have research streams and individual scholars influenced how we do research today, and why are these stories not included in most of the published literature reviews on this topic? What distinguishes research about boards and governance from various disciplines? How do we find research about board processes and board capital, and how has groundbreaking research on the human side of corporate governance developed? Groundbreaking research of Myles Mace was conducted more than half a decade ago, and we need to understand what has taken place after the seminal 1989 contribution of Zahra and Pearce. Research about actual board behavior and processes were not for decades published in leading management and strategy journals. Most published research about board processes and board capital is formulaic, leans on proxies rather than direct observation, and has only incremental if any practical contributions. A message is thus that we should strive for more groundbreaking studies that challenge existing knowledge and practice, including our research practice. A research agenda about board processes and board capital should be influenced by some of the following suggestions: • It should go beyond formulaic and incremental studies. We should challenge existing wisdom and practice and search for alternative ways of doing research. • It should include more processual studies rather than archival data studies using proxies. • We should learn from the scholars doing groundbreaking research before us. • We should learn by comparing experiences from various types of organizations. • We must include lessons and publications not found in leading English-language journals. • We should apply a sharing philosophy and a programmatic approach in which we as researchers contribute to developing future generations of scholars.