On our way to the AOM 2014 Annual Meeting!

themeToday, SAGE will be attending the 2014 Academy of Management (AOM) Annual Meeting held August 1-5 in Philadelphia. With this year’s theme, “The Power of Words,” the conference is expected to see more than 10,000 students, academics, scholars, and professionals in the scholarly management and organization space.

We invite all conference attendees to stop by the SAGE Booth to learn about our exciting management resources. We look forward to meeting you all there at booth #315, 317, 319, and 321.

In addition to our in-booth activities, we are proud to be sponsoring several awards for papers in the following AOM divisions:

  • Gender and Diversity in Organizations
  • Management Education and Development
  • Management History
  • Organization and Management Theory
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Public and Non-profit
  • Research Methods
  • Social Issues in Management

We will be highlighting the winners of two of these awards on SAGE Connection to learn more about their research and how they first became interested in their field of study.

Today, we will feature the winner of the 2014 SAGE leadership award winner under the Management History Division, Linda Perriton.  Her paper was titled “Management as Fantasy: The Managerial Work of Catherine Cappe and Faith Gray, 1782-1820.”

LindaPerriton2Linda worked in the financial services industry as a management development consultant for ten years before making the career switch to academia after studying for a PhD in Management at Lancaster University. She has worked at the York Management School, University of York in England since 2000. Linda’s main area of research and teaching is in learning and development where her interest is in workplace management development and critical approaches to management education. Her interest in historical research focuses on women in management and how they learned the skills of management prior to specialised education and to when training became available. She is currently working with a colleague on 19th century working class women’s savings, an interest that grew out of her work on women and the management of friendly societies.

1.       What made you interested in studying Catherine Cappe and Faith Gray?

Like many projects, it was by way of a circuitous route. In my academic career I have spent a lot of time sitting in committee meetings. Some of the best meetings were chaired by women who knew the rules, the correct procedures and were able to use those rules and practices to control some of the more, let’s say  …. vocal …. men in the meetings. Instead of resenting time spent in committee rooms, I used the time to think about how women might have benefited in terms of learning to be managers in previous generations. Were committees helpful to women’s management skills? Did committees create structured spaces where women (and men) were able to insert themselves in and be supported by those rules and procedures without having to rely on personal power or charisma? That question led me to read a lot about the history of the committee format of management, and the history of bureaucracy. The next step was to compile a list of as many examples I could find of women-only clubs, societies and businesses that used the committee form and had long runs of archive material available. My first projects looked at 20th century organisations such as women’s business clubs, and from there to women’s social clubs that also offered some element of business training. I gradually worked back in time from there. I am fortunate that my own university has a fabulous archive that holds some of the records of the charity school that Faith Gray and Catharine Cappe formed. The local City archive, and the York Minster library, hold records and books from the late 18th century that cover other organisations that the women founded – a female friendly society.

2.       How did you originally connect their work with the idea of management as fantasy?

An unfavourable journal article review! I have been trying to find the best way to convince other people that Cappe and Gray offer us some important insights into management and business history over a number of years now. It is easy enough to convince people that their story is historically interesting, but much harder to convince management and business historians. Cappe and Gray are recognised in the historical literature of the middle class, of York, of education and of philanthropy and of non-conformist religion. However, it has been really very difficult to convince business historians that they should be identified as managers or business founders because Cappe and Gray set up non-profits and mutual enterprises.

The paper on Cappe and Gray has been rejected by three journals (so far) and has been rewritten at least six or seven times. One of the reviews of an earlier version asked (and I paraphrase) why Cappe and Gray’s story was so interesting given that they weren’t doing anything new, didn’t manage in identifiably “female” ways and – arguably – were just doing things like men? I realised that in order to tell the story in a way that would be understood by business and management historians, I’d have to find a way of explaining why women want to be conventional managers, reproduce existing organisational forms, and manage in ways that they identify as ‘competent’ rather than gendered. It is the same as the women in my classes. They want what everyone else wants, that their parents and peers can identify with and feel pride in them achieving. They want to work in management consultancies and present SWOT analyses on PowerPoint slides. They want a future where they do things that people understand and value.

I picked up Joan Scott’s “The Fantasy of Feminist History” and thought that I had found a way of explaining that.

3.        In your opinion, what is the most interesting conclusion you came to at the end of your study?

It is easier (and surely quicker) to explain innovation than it is to explain conformity.

4.        What are your next steps for this paper? How does winning this award motivate you?

I have been trying to find the right way to write this paper for seven years. Not full time – I have been doing other things and publishing other work in the same time period! However, at various points I have wondered if I should just give the project up. This award has made me be determined to keep working to improve it and get it published as business history, not as local history or the history of welfare/philanthropy.

I’m still not satisfied that I have the right story though. I think I will use the “management as fantasy” angle to write another paper about gender, historical and contemporary managerial behaviour, and focus more on gender, social conformity and the organisational form to fit a business history journal. I also have a lot of separate data on the accounts and sickness records from the friendly society to write up. So this version of the paper might find its way into three different papers.

5.       What advice would you give to other busy PhD students struggling to balance dissertation, coursework, and pedagogy?

Struggling to balance competing priorities isn’t just something that is restricted to your years as a PhD student. It is the common condition of all academics. So the following is what I often tell myself (and often fail to listen to):

  • You can’t get an academic job without finishing your PhD and you can’t succeed in an academic job without publishing so make sure that you prioritise your own research and thinking. Set yourself public, non-negotiable deadlines for writing papers or chapters— conferences organised amongst PhD students or even lunchtime research seminars in your own school are good for this if a lack of resource prevents you from attending bigger national and international conferences. Measure yourself against set milestones, e.g. “finish the chapter/paper by the end of the month” rather than setting targets of 1500 words for a particular day or week.
  • Students are exposed to a lot of pedagogical models and, for the most part, I don’t think it really bothers them which one you use as long as you are organised, competent and consistent. What bothers them are teachers who don’t appear interested in them or want them to do well. So if you find a pedagogical approach that suits your personality, subject area, and values then stick to it and spend the rest of your time and energy communicating your interest in helping them achieve.
  • Make sure you understand the area of your life where “good enough” is the standard you need to achieve, rather than “excellent.”
  • Finally, keep your best writing, most thoughtful contributions and impassioned arguments for your academic work. Being retweeted isn’t the same as being cited.

Make sure to check back tomorrow, where we will be highlighting Anissa Boulemia’s paper “Procedural Rules, Access of SMEs and Efficiency: Evidence from French Public Procurement” from the Public and Non-profit division of AOM.

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