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Organizational reforms and gender: Feminization of middle management in Finnish and German banking

  • Tienari, Janne
  • Quack, Sigrid
  • Theobald, Hildegard
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    In this article, we analyze the longitudinal relationship between organizational reforms (with downsizing elements) and feminization of a specific managerial position. We maintain that two dominant contemporary approaches to reforms and change, i.e. the managerialist literature and its socio-political criticisms, have predominantly been gender-blind. We argue that the unfolding of organizational reforms in bureaucratic business firms cannot fully be understood without reference to how managerial jobs are redefined in relation to each other, and to what are the gendered connotations involved and the type of workforce sought for the newly defined jobs. These gendered demands of reforms must, moreover, be addressed in association with what comes to be seen as the adequate (female and male) supply by top decision-makers. We contend that the gendered patterns inherent in organisational reform can only be discerned if the research takes into account the ways in which reforming is intertwined with developments in the division of labour between men and women, power and authority relations, and norms and values prevalent in the proximate business environment and the society at large. This leads us to suggest analysis which identifies processes of organising as constructed under, but not fully determined by, specific spatial and temporal conditions of gendered social practice. We present in-depth evidence from organizational reforming in two banks, located in societies with significantly divergent gender cultures and gender orders (i.e. Finland and Germany). Through a detailed cross-national comparison, we propose a common fundamental operating mechanism for the reformgender link, and specify a number of societal differences in form. In general, our evidence supports the argument that specific forms of restructuring - even with reductive elements - in fact promote feminization of middle management positions, albeit as a reflection of a development that reproduces gender segregation in new forms.

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    Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Organization and Employment with number FS I 98-105.

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    Date of creation: 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzboem:fsi98105
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    1. Brunsson, Nils, 1989. "Administrative reforms as routines," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 219-228.
    2. Acker, Joan, 1994. "The gender regime of Swedish banks," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 117-130, June.
    3. Duraisamy, P., 1992. "Gender, Intrafamily Allocation of Resources and Child Schooling in South India," Papers 667, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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