Managing masculinity /mMismanaging the corporation

Knights, David and Tullberg, Maria (2012). Managing masculinity /mMismanaging the corporation. Organization, 19(4) pp. 385–404.



There are numerous accounts of the financial crisis that shocked the Western world in 2008. Almost all the commentaries are steeped in the same cognitive paradigm of linear thinking and assumptions of economic self-interest that could be seen to have created the crisis. While acknowledging the multiplicity of reasons for the crisis and how it should be managed, this article offers an alternative in presenting a gendered perspective that could complement but also challenge some of the conventional wisdom. It suggests a link between managing masculinity and mismanaging the corporation leading to government bailouts for the banks and a near collapse of Western economies. Although new governance and regulation are clearly important responses to the crisis, they do not necessarily get to the root of the problem. A more sociological form of analysis could help us to understand how individual material and symbolic self-interest deriving partly from misrecognition of the self as autonomous but reinforced by masculine fragilities was a major condition of the excesses leading to the crisis. This article explores how this self-interest is not just a reflection of the neo-liberal economic consensus but also of masculine discourses within the business class elite that make the pursuit of ever spiralling remuneration almost obligatory.

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