Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997


Coates, G. (1997) 'Organisation Man - Women and Organisational Culture'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 2, no. 3, <>

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Received: 12/2/97      Accepted: 26/9/97      Published: 30/9/97


Four decades ago, Whyte (1956), described how a new human expression had become universally evident. This was the notion of the 'Organisation Man', an early corporate culture characterised by the middle ranks of managers in large organisations, who were subject to a 'social ethic'. Under the original conception gender was not an issue. However, in a contemporary view of human resource management (HRM) and corporate culture, it has become crucial to understanding both notions of competitive advantage, and the thesis and influence of commitment in the literature and the workplace.

This article deals with some issues of women and the organisation man/corporate culture thesis. Unlike many studies (e.g. Fletcher et al, 1993), there is a need to make a distinction between women and men concerning their perceptions and roles. A need to clarify the changes that have taken place in relation to the corporate culture thesis. The analysis in this paper is based on initial research material. It deals with the above issues in relation to gender in contemporary society, asking as it does, if the notion of corporate culture has changed to one where both men and women are implicated in the project at a full, emotional level.

Femininity; Gender; Management; Organisational Culture; Performance Appraisal; Sexuality; Women


The 'social ethic' in management practice Whyte (1956) described forty years ago was then a new universally evident organisational expression. It was the notion of Organisation Man (OM), an early corporate culture (CC), characterised by the middle ranks of managers in large organisations. Whereas the Protestant Ethic had emphasised individual salvation through hard work, thrift and competitive struggle (Weber, 1985), the social ethic hinged on three principle factors:

  1. A belief in belongingness as the ultimate need of the individual;
  2. A belief in the application of science to achieve belongingness - to the group and organisation;
  3. A belief in the group as the source of creativity.

This sense of belongingness was akin to undertaking organisation vows, and in practice meant that members were more deeply beholden to their organisation than ever before. The OM rhetoric expressed notions of loyalty and singularity, whereas the present CC thesis focuses on loyalty, harmony and relationships between individuals as the goal.

With OM, a 'special sort of person' arose, one who was reliable, and one whose personality and loyalty were subordinated to the organisation (Thompson and McHugh, 1990). This was very much a deterministic perspective of working individuals, based on notions of the organisation as a 'foundation of safety'. In return for loyalty, 'obedience' and identifying their goals with the organisations, individuals were offered job security and long-term careers. It is the contemporary notion of engendering obedience and commitment that is under scrutiny here. This is not overt, but a subtle version.

In the 1980s socio-cultural society changed greatly due to the influence of economic deregulation (Janowitz, 1991). The greater opportunities for personal consumption paved the way towards individualised orientations, making organisational authority relationships less stable and predictable. Individuals' desire focused towards seeking instrumental and emotional rewards outside organisations, which continually subverted rational organisational arrangements (cf. Linstead and Grafton-Small, 1992). The 1980s organisation thus emphasized the partitioning of emotional effort from reward - a division and difference. In the 1990s this was seen as a barrier to organisational profitability, individuality was out. In was a move away from instrumentality towards communality at work. In this, organisations, e.g. IBM, were seen to embody the community integration and moral foundations that society at large no longer practised (Ferner et al, 1995).[1]

This abiding organisational concern with analysis of moral regulation and social integration was reflected in debates concerning corporate culture (CC).[2] Here humanisation of work (Rose, 1991), had been superseded by the management of culture/commitment and the movement of leadership rationality towards moral structural determinants (Bowles and Coates, 1993).[3] The success of the CC appeal was contingent upon making employee commitment appear critical. Thus there 'appeared' to be a growing tendency for people to want more from their work than a simple wage (Bratton, 1991).

Contemporary organisations could not accept, for economic reasons, that organisations constituted a fragile moral order reproduced through the unconstrained practices of their employees. Individuals were a resource like any other. In consequence, the idea of CC remained entrenched in the notion of instability and unpredictable egos:

... the culture movement grew directly out of dissatisfaction with neo- rationalism's inability to fully utilize the productive potential of an uncommitted labour force. (Kunda and Barley, 1988: p. 26).
Under the original auspices of OM (Whyte, 1956), gender was not an issue. However, in a contemporary view of CC, it has become crucial to understanding the foregoing analysis and the influence of commitment in the literature and the workplace. Gender inequality is nothing new, both paid and unpaid forms of work consistently exhibit patterns of inequality. Analyses illustrate the way jobs are immutably assigned to one sex or the other (e.g. McEwen, 1990). However, the CC debate stemmed partly from the OM debate, so denoted because only men were considered to be affected by changes in employment practices. Here only men were considered breadwinners, with women's role to supplement income - wars aside (Milkman, 1987). For example, the traditional image, and one gaining resurgence now with employers, was that employees put in extra effort beyond the paid cycle. OM was a workaholic, this however, does not allow for the other responsibilities in the lives of women.

The important neglect of the OM debate has been the absence of women. Women now account for half those employed in total (Brown, 1990), but only a fraction of those employed in managerial positions (Grint, 1991). For example, in 1986 only 1.8% of mangers at National Westminster bank were women (Crompton, 1989). With growing recruitment to the ranks of junior and middle management, the issue of gender has become crucial in understanding the route organisations will follow into the next century. This has been a marked change from the composition of the workforce in the 1950s. Figures suggest this change will happen sooner rather than later, with a general increase in jobs for women and a decrease in those for men (Evans, 1990; Jonung and Persson, 1993). With the steady rise in single parent families, evidence of the greater inherent intelligence and the better communication skills of women (Panorama, BBC1 1994), there has been a surge in women's employment and the grades they achieve once there.[4]

This article therefore deals with the issue of gender and a contemporary view of OM/CC. Unlike many studies (e.g. Fletcher et al, 1993), there is a need to make a distinction between women and men concerning their perceptions of their organisations and their roles within. There is also a real need to clarify the changes that have taken place in relation to women and the CC thesis. The analysis in this article is based on two stages of research material. Together they deal with issues of gender in relation to its manifestation in contemporary organisational society. The article also asks if the notion of CC has changed to one where both men and women are implicated in the project at a full level.

Gender and the CC Thesis

Analysis has traditionally viewed discrimination of women employees through both horizontal and vertical divisions of labour. This perspective argues it is likely to be the men who move to the top of the ladder. Traditionally therefore, it is assumed that women are excluded from the benefits of a core workforce (Jenkins and Buswell, 1994). However, the present study highlighted some 'significant' improvements in the position of women within both large and small organisations and questions the very notion of a separate CC identity, but not gender inequality itself. CC has the power to strip away traditional masculine identities associated with work. That it does not do so, provides little surprise (cf. Gottfried and Graham, 1993). [5]

Ironically, the most frequent reason for supporting the use of CC, is that an idiosyncratic and strong corporate commitment gives an organisation a competitive advantage over other organisations within the same industry (Williams et al, 1992). It is this assumption that has led to organisations adopting 'culture development' programmes or 'cultural rescues' (Alvesson and Berg, 1992). It has also been argued that the full utilisation of human resources, both men and women, requires a high degree of individual commitment and identification with the company from employees. However, there has always been implicit acceptance of a difference between the levels of the two.

By the end of the 1980s, the notion of a CC was definitely back on the agenda, IBM had been partly the spur with its emphasis on conformity and commitment (Mercer, 1988). Here individuals could get their kudos and status, all the while making it a bankable situation. It was also the Japanese experience that forced the notion of CC back onto the agenda (cf. Pascale and Athos, 1982), through the caprice of tuned in workforces. Despite this new emphasis upon CC (Goldsmith and Clutterbuck, 1985), there was little place for women in prestige areas of power. This is reflected in the present study with the discovery that there were no women in the engineering specialism at all. Either this represents a lack of women engineers responding, or it reflects the anticipated position of women in such areas (cf. Devine, 1992; Morgan and Knights, 1991). However, it was Bottero (1992) who argued that women are kept out of certain occupations until men can leave, or at the very least there is an emphasis, for women, on not appearing career minded and accepting that 'a woman's place is ultimately in the home'; all the while watching men gain promotion over them (Morgan, 1990: p. 51).

A major part of CC is commitment. There has long been an ambivalence between the promotion of effective organisational performance, mainly through the management of commitment, and the resurgent humanism of the early social psychology movement (cf. Rose, 1991). Committed orientations would restore expression, emotion and sensitivity to the cold reality of rational-technical organisations (Pondy et al, 1983). Commitment was facilitated by the crises of efficiency and the perceived need to adapt to new technical change producing adjudged advantage elsewhere (Dore, 1989).[6] The turbulent economic environments and increased size of corporations also pointed towards culture and commitment as the adhesive to core values (Oliver and Wilkinson, 1989). According to Kunda and Barley (1988) culture enhances social integration, which eliminates the need for bureaucracy and increases the level of investment that, in turn, enhances performance and productivity. Commitment becomes the 'social glue' keeping disparate activities together. The human element could easily be regarded as magical ingredient for success - empowered by the correct cultural milieu of course. Such seemingly irrational actions could become rational and hence understandable through correct interpretation. This is a short step from designating it as amenable to HRM goals.

The CC thesis sees it as a requirement for employees to view it as their responsibility to re-create themselves as assets, to better the company. It stresses individuals should undertake training as part of their commitment to 'doing good for the organisation'

The reinvented CC thesis is extremely problematic in that its emphasis seeks to re-create a voluntarily subordinated work force with attachment to the firm. This attachment is sought to an organisational culture, not specific jobs or departments, nor necessarily each other and not to a notion of home either.

As such, investigating the organisation is to investigate the ordinary. As Morgan, (1986) argues, organisational culture is as much about ordinariness as it is about being a special case. Virtually all of the CC writing accepts the symbolic constitution of organisations under scrutiny without seeking to explore them further, nor to explore their mundanity (Turner, 1992). According to Alvesson (1991: p. 1) 'we conceptualize organisation through seeing it as something [else] i.e. using a metaphor, [here commitment] and that the metaphor used is of decisive importance for understanding the research object as well as thinking and theorizing in general'.

We shall now examine a number of issues involved with women and CC.

The Research

The study was carried out in two stages. Stage one of the data collection was completed in September 1993 and is based around a survey of 224 managers in the East and West Midlands of the United Kingdom. Men and women were equally represented in proportion to their numbers in management and more so in the case of women (table 1). Care was also taken to sample all major areas of industry, including retail, administration, construction and leisure.

Table 1: The Ages and Gender of Respondents
Age19 - 2526 - 3031 - 3526 - 4041 - 4546 - 5050+Total
% Men in Age6.62530.313.818.44 .61.3
Total % in Age Group10394721287264
n=7.134.3472128 72154
% Women in Age7.134.321.42011.45 .7
Total % in Age Group33.338.724.64022.2
n=524151484 070

Total number of organisations sureveyed was 76.

Survey questions were arranged around several general themes within the respondent organisation, including; general features of the organisation, promotional opportunities, organisational culture, organisational structure, and job structure and outcomes of any educational learning they were undertaking. These questions were not weighted in order of importance, however, individuals were instructed to choose in cases of multiple responses, those that best represented their situation.

The response rate was 67% with 224 questionnaires being returned fully answered. Of the 224 replies, 70 were women and 154 were men. Additionally the split between levels of management typified management in general. Of the sample, 6.8% were executives, 13.1% were senior managers, while middle and junior managers were 47% and 33.1% respectively. By far the most important level of management for men was the middle management (45%), with junior management the most important for women (60%). Age within the sample was broadly distributed, but was over-represented by ages below 35. This however, reflects much of management today within both expanding and contracting organisations (table 1).

In terms of the size of organisation these individuals came from, by far the highest number, women 58.6% and men 57.1%, came from large organisations (60.3% in total), with 26.8% and 12.9% respectively in medium and small organisations (figure 1). In terms of specialist functions, the majority of respondents were in a general management function (56%). Respondents were also distributed throughout industrial sectors, with manufacturing (33%) and retail (28%) being prominent. Hence the survey represents a broad base from which to make illustrative conclusions concerning the analysis of CC and OM outlined above. The survey sample was selected from information supplied by local TEC's, but was not funded nor influenced by them.

Figure 1: The Size of Organisation by Gender

The second stage of research involved the qualitative interviewing of 60 men and women from the initial survey. These individuals were 30 men and 30 women, who responded positively to the questionnaires request to take part in further qualitative interviews. The individuals were selected because they represented a similar sample (sector, age, and levels of management) to the survey. The interviews were in-depth and semi-structured and conducted outside the workplace to ensure confidentiality. On average these lasted an hour and were all tape recorded. Questions focused around their experience of work and its affects on their social and economic situation. This was an attempt to build on the replies to the questionnaire and gain responses that might complement those obtained from the survey. In this way the study sought to uncover the motives and meanings individuals have in relation to work and organisations and if men and women are receiving and interpreting the messages of CC similarly.

One important point to mention is that, while women represented a third of overall managers in the study, they nevertheless only represented 4.3% of executive positions against 9.9% of men. By far the largest single group overall was middle managers (47%), even here only 25 of the women studied had attained this level. The vast majority of women were thus junior managers.

We will take the survey data first and then analyse the qualitative data in light of this.

The Research Findings

Survey Data

The survey was designed to uncover the similarities between men and women in relation to the those aspects of CC which are given prominence in the literature; training, commitment and values.

Training And Careers

Within CC individuals are 'required' to continually train to cover more tasks. This is their responsibility and is part of their commitment to the organisation, and so 100% of the study had been or were actively involved in training. Most were currently training for reasons of 'improving their understanding of the business and management of their organisation' (64%). This was true for both men (63%) and women (67%) (figure 2).

Figure 2: The Aims of Training Currently being Undertaken

Doubly interesting was that 69% of women were actively interested in gaining, and, expected to gain promotion from their educational achievement. Men were less (40%) likely to expect this. Promotion offered women respondents job challenge and an increase in income (68%). For men it mainly offered job challenge (76%). The prospect of increased income for women was also prominent as they felt they should earn an equal income in their own right (78%).

Women also responded positively that they wanted to achieve a longer term career in their current organisation (69%). Only a small proportion of individuals viewed their promotion prospects as a form of job security (15%). In fact promotion was seen to bring extra work and work-related stress (see table 2):

To illustrate this, women respondents were asked what they saw as the personal costs of promotion and advancement. Many agreed there were extra pressures on performance, and that promotion brought the extra need to meet deadlines (57%). This affected their abilities to meet domestic responsibilities, which were not taken up by a spouse or partner (89%). Along side this disregard for their other responsibilities, there had been a recent intensification of their work process (88%). Men however, also opted for the pressures of deadlines (61%), and agreed with the notion of intensification (82%), though they were subject to less domestic responsibilities. Moreover while women felt there was less time for their selves once promoted, 55% of men thought otherwise:

This however, did not reflect badly on women thinking they were 'team players'. Women respondents overwhelmingly answered that they were (84.9%). For example, within the study, the main barriers to women progressing their careers were the culture networks of men, and colleague prejudice (figure 3). Unsurprisingly however, women felt themselves to be team players as much as men (81.4%) did.

Figure 3: Barriers to Women Progressing at Work

Clarifying this ability to be team players was the question regarding the notion of management style. The predominant existing organisational style of the respondents organisations was a bureaucratic form (50.9%), with a mix of bureaucratic and loose structure second (34.5%). This however contradicted the response to another question concerning the existing management style in their organisation. A majority said their organisation had a participative style of management (52.7%), with a bureaucratic management style only gaining 8.6%. The question arises as to whether it is possible to have a bureaucratic organisation and a participative form of management? This could be linked to the increase in discretion individuals had apparently been coupled to (58.5%). However, this is tempered by individuals' responses concerning the intensification of work. Here 85.9% of respondents believed that their function had been subject to work intensification in recent months. The intensification comes via the greater volume of work (65%) which individuals are being asked to deal with. This is caused by the overall reduction in organisational size while work volume remains steady: However, the introduction of new technology was seen to be least influential in the intensification of work (20.9%).

To take this a step closer to understanding how CC affects employees, the survey looked at the emotional responses for both men and women. These were similar when asked if the culture of their organisation made managers, more or less caring, considerate, cynical, and tough. In other words both men and women felt that being a manager made them feel less human than otherwise. The results seen in table 2 illustrate management makes managers, but especially women, by necessity, tougher and less 'emotional' (cf. Sims et al, 1993).

Table 2: Work Makes Managers More or Less

This naturally affects relations between colleagues. Relations were now more competitive (46.6%). If this is true, we need to be careful when judging responses to questions concerning 'team playing' and sharing corporate values. However, the results were similar for men and women.


When examining commitment it is wise to briefly examine the hours respondents worked as this is seen as a measure of loyalty to the organisation. In the study both women and men worked a 41-50 hour week in their organisations, and not the official 35 - 37 hours (table 3). However, those claiming 81+ hours were registered self-employed in small companies and were subject less to an externally imposed time stricture which accounts for the extra time they put in outside 'nominal' office hours. Two of these were women who undertook domestic duties on top of this.

Table 3: Hours Worked by Respondents
30-4041- 5051-6061-7071- 8081+Total
Male %
Female %
38.648.610002.9 31.7
719439131 3221

Additionally men were able to work longer hours due to their lack of participation in domestic chores (86%).

This has to be seen in light of how 80% of organisations were attempting to achieve shared values or culture. This encompassed 78.1% of women and 73.4% of men and was promoted via the use of masculine CC symbols. These were logo's (27%) (Turner, 1990), company magazines (51%), impressions/videos (13%) (Goffman, 1959; Shaw, 1992), harmonization (10%) (Rowlinson et al, 1990) and rituals (20%) (Rohlen, 1980). The least popular method was through outward bound/weekend courses (5.3%), these being a sexist relic of the 1980s and the aggressive/dominating attitudes they spawned.

The study also focused on whether the organisation appeared, for the individual, to have their best interests at heart. In this regard both women (85.6%) and men (75%) felt their organisations did not have their best interests at heart (78.2% overall), a real blow for the CC supposition.

Due to the emphasis of CC upon performance, respondents were asked how they felt they were judged as organisational members. Both (73%) felt their performance and results were the main criteria by which they were personally satisfied that they were 'recognised' by the organisation, as having made the effort. Hence an important area of the present study was whether individuals were committed to their organisation. In relation to this, 64% were committed overall, 56.5% of women and 67.5% of men. This does not support previous assertions on the commitment of women to organisations being vastly lower in relation to that of men (cf. Cockburn, 1991).

However, only 42.2% of men from the study who were committed, also trusted their organisation. The corresponding figure for women was 28.5%.

Despite this, many from the study were satisfied with issues of pay, self-respect, status, security, promotion and personal growth within their organisations. However, this was not reflected in the particular position of women. For example, while 50% of men who were committed to their organisation, were also satisfied with the self-respect/esteem of their job, only 35.6% of women felt the same. Similar figures were found for status where it was 48% of men and 27.6% women. Women continue to be marginalised from the organisational benefits that men apparently receive.

Organisations are argued to be psychologically defeating places. In respect of this, both sexes have experienced aggression, irritability, frustration, tiredness, and cynicism in relation to their job/organisation. Thankfully they do not experience it often (see table 4).

Table 4: Strong Emotions Created by Organisations

Interestingly 20% of respondents said the increase in their work loads had in some way increased their alcohol consumption. Of these 10 were men and 35 were women (table 5). This presented the question of who now influences these individuals work intentions and careers.

In relation to those women who's alcohol consumption had risen, a majority (42.9%) said that their organisations were the biggest single influence on their careers and work intentions and not their young families which trailed at 14.3% (table 5).

Table 5: The Influences on Careers and Intentions from those who's Alcohol Consumption had Increased
WomenOrganisationFamilyManage rColleaguesFriendsMediaOther
%42.914.32.98.6 8.62.920

In terms of who most influences their career, both sets of respondents were sure that the single biggest influence was their organisation (31.6%), followed by their families (30.7%), while their immediate manager collected only 9% and colleagues 6.6%. Those who least influence career choices would appear to be friends (5.2%) (table 6)

Table 6: Who has the most Influence on your Career?
InfluenceYour OrganisationManagerColleaguesFamilyFriend sMediaOther
Male %
Female %
All %31.696.630.75.20.916

What we can also discern from table 6, is that women were more likely to be influenced by their colleagues than were men, who were less inclined to seek status approval from their peers in terms of their career aspirations. It is important to see this in relation to the following responses concerning the effects of work on relations with their families (table 7). In this respect women see their relations with their families as positively influenced by their work. It is significant that these women are influenced a great deal by their colleagues and feel more than men, that work has a positive affect on their relations with their families.

Table 7: Does Experience of Work Influence Relations with Family?
%PositivelyNegativelyNo InfluenceOther

When asked to specify the sources of satisfaction in their lives, women were more likely to say that their family was the major source (88%), as were men (77%). This represents more of a change for men than in previous studies (e.g. Dalton, 1964), but underlines that women do not reject family responsibilities when gaining managerial positions. It also reinforces the move away by men from the organisation as a site of satisfaction and a move towards their private lives/spheres instead. Especially as a further 50% of men felt that their personal leisure interests were more important than their careers.

While women managers are traditionally assumed to be tied to the husbands occupation, and are thus seen as a burden on flexible deployment (Scase and Goffee, 1989), over half of women respondents (56.5%), were willing to relocate for the furtherance of their career. Such a position denotes a commitment still to their occupation/career and possibly their organisation. This was bolstered by the fact that a majority of these were also committed to their organisation.[7]

This illustrates that women see work as a central factor in their identity and are receiving the same messages as men, while still marginalising them.

Interview Data - Gendered Images: The Expected and the Actual

To which groups are the concepts of CC a tool? Considered as a group, managers in western society might be considered particularly open to their persuasion. They tend to be aware of the 'selling' possibilities of (brand) images. To sell (and therefore buy into) the organisation as well becomes one step further on the ladder. The culture approach, with its peculiar masculine concepts - myths, rites, rituals, artefacts, lore - and their 'ambiguous' meaning (Gagliardi, 1990), is traditionally seen as likely to induce tension and a dis-interest where women are concerned (Gherardi, 1992). These concepts are offered to organisational members as part of the seductive process of achieving membership and commitment (Linstead and Grafton-Small, 1992). At a corporate level, however, a distinctive masculine commitment culture might appear to have a 'symbolic' value in terms of appearing progressive, modern with a public image of paternalism towards its employees.[8] However, it is not clear to individual employees, especially women, how they benefit, nor how they can have a hand in making the decisions behind it (Garrahan and Stewart, 1992):

I try to act the same as male colleagues, but I don't feel its right. After all, what good does it do me as a woman?[9]

A number of CC issues will be discussed briefly before turning to data in the same areas as the study survey data.

Crucial is the acceptance that the creation of images of acceptable behaviour belongs not to women, but to men, reproducing a domestic division of labour (Hearn and Parkin, 1991; Newell, 1993). For example, cleanliness and tidiness are essential to the modern organisation. This has been appropriated as a concept that is no longer feminine, but as an obvious 'logical' necessity. Women thus find themselves subject to notions and images of CC despite their gender and abilities (cf. Kerfoot and Knights, 1993):

It's like being at home, a second set of domestic roles. I find I'm asked to clean things up more than male colleagues. I'm made to feel it's my job and yet something I'm probably not used to.

Moreover, corporate success for women in the study has meant learning male-type behaviours and male emotional expression - competing with men on men's terms (Pahl, 1993). This is what Sims et al (1993) argued to be the 'emotional rules' of organisations. Traditional identity is of the male breadwinner in masculine occupations, which tends to devalue a female identity at work. Organisations thus assert in subtle ways, what employees feel and how they can express those feelings; these must be very much more than add-on features to the economic or management purpose of the organisation, they must be part of it. This is part of the need for women to be noticeably better than comparable men at the same job to be considered as equals (Hochschild, 1983; Riska and Wegar, 1993). This subtle sexual stereotyping power, defines who has control of the presentation of self and the images individuals must perform to (Coates, 1994):[10]

It's like a man wearing a skirt to work and expecting to be taken seriously. I have to look like a woman and act like a man. I guess its what schizophrenics must feel like.

Doubly problematic for the study's women was the continuing 'de-sexualization of the organisation' (Burrell, 1984) through bureaucracy, which denies the difference of female sexuality, making masculine images paramount. This provides yet another problem, that of making sexuality an issue of 'non-commitment'. For example all the women were subject to other (domestic) responsibilities, especially childcare, which restricted their work time. However, traditional images of women at work remain (Newell, 1993):

I do feel sometimes that I am working twice as hard as the others. You cant really complain about it as they feel you are probably not a good mother.

The domestic, Cockburn (1991) argues, is where women do most of their long hours of work, their non-domestic employment average being only 33 hours (Baxter, 1992). Hochschild (1993) has also noted the longer total working hours performed by women subject to a 'second shift'. However, the present study uncovered that most managerial women work a 41 - 50 hour week at their job which is then supplemented by any domestic tasks (Warde, 1990):

I usually have to do the chores when I get home, Brian wouldn't know where to start. Sometimes the kids do them, but usually it's me.

However, two women who were self-employed undertook domestic duties on top of a 81 hour week; 'Sometimes Steven helps out, but he's got a job as well, so it[s] usually me who feeds the kids and so on.'

Additionally men were able to work longer hours due to their lack of participation in domestic chores (cf. Walby, 1989; Warde and Heatherington, 1993):

I do the washing up occasionally, but I get home later than Sarah. If I didn't have to stay late most nights I'm sure I would do the cooking, sometimes. (Male)

However, women were still subject to masculine images that affected their hours worked:

The one thing they expect these days is that you put the time in. You cant be seen running off to pick Johnny up from school, not if you want to achieve promotion.

This has affected the way women see training and promotion as part of their attempts to progress through their organisations as women.

Training And Careers

Women subject to CC saw education/training as a means to 'getting on':

Promotion is about putting new skills to work. You undertake training to compete for the next job up, not to stand still. Why would they pay for the training if they weren't going to promote me?

Men were less likely to expect this. They anticipated achieving promotion through a practical application of their skills - on the job, and felt they had served their time and were due promotion - 'Buggins turn'. Here we can see the beginnings of an individualised promotion scale for women and the 'club' syndrome for men (cf. Coates, 1994). The prospect of increased income for women was also prominent as they felt they should earn an equal income in their own right, just as OM had previously (Gregory, 1992; Baxter, 1992):

... if I do a job like a man does, and have the same qualifications, I want to get paid like a man. It's only fair isn't it?

A traditional view is that women do not make career plans for a single organisation due to breaks for amongst other things childbirth. The interviews sought to ascertain the extent of women's desire to achieve a long term career within their organisation. Here the CC thesis would argue that individuals would be dedicated to, or even 'love' the company enough to wish to remain long-term (Goldsmith and Clutterbuck, 1985). The women responded positively that they wanted to achieve a longer term career in their current organisation. However, not many felt their future prospects were bright:

I want to stay here and become a senior manager, but it's difficult to make a name for yourself here as a woman.

Curiously the loyalty expected by organisations under CC did not provide reciprocal security for employees. This may be due to the subtle attempts by Japan to dismantle the Nenko or lifetime employment system from its labour relations (cf. Berggren, 1995; Man Tsung, 1991). Levels of job security among interviewees is best expressed through the British Attitudes Survey:

... pessimism about the labour market has risen since 1989 among all income groups, but has increased almost fivefold among the highest earners (14% of this group in 1989 expected unemployment to go up, compared with 71% in 1991). After all, redundancies have risen by an unprecedented extent in the generally well-paid south east... (Cairncross, 1992: p. 30)

Promotion therefore, was not seen to offer job security or personal benefits to either group. Thus only a small proportion of individuals viewed their promotion prospects as a form of job security. In fact promotion was seen to bring extra work and work-related stress:

Of course promotion is nice, it brought me more responsibility, but it also brought more insecurity. I know if my results don't remain high, I could be 'asked to leave' it's quite stressful these days.

To illustrate this, interviewees were asked what they saw as the personal costs of promotion and advancement. Many women argued there were extra pressures on performance, and that promotion brought the extra need to meet deadlines. This affected their abilities to meet domestic responsibilities, which were not taken up by a spouse or partner. Along side this disregard for their other responsibilities, there had been a recent intensification of their work process. Moreover women felt there was less time for their selves once promoted, men however, thought otherwise:

There isn't really any time for myself once I've got in, made dinner for the family and washed-up. There isn't enough hours in the day.

Once you get a certain way up the tree, you can delegate. It makes my job easier if I can pass things on. Being in senior management there is an onus on socialising rather than sweating. (Male)

Thus for women, the adoption of female role models - the organisation woman - proved extremely difficult, due in certain circumstances to the use of 'machismo' to control workplaces (Livingston and Luxton, 1989) and images of work itself as 'feminine' to be conquered. Despite the newer working practices of CC, this has not diminished. Attempting to vanquish such a barrier provides intense work in itself. This occurs while women are occupied in denying their gender, and creates immense restrictions on what they can do.

This might lead to the belief that women were less committed than men as they are juggling home and work lives, while men do not to the same extent. However, in a further rebuttal of the 'women as poor long-term employees', interviewees were asked if they felt themselves to be 'team players'. Women interviewees overwhelmingly answered that they were:

Of course I'm a team player, and I'm not just saying that. In today's climate you can only get things done that way. Men tend to say it and not believe it.

Unsurprisingly, women felt themselves to be team players as much as men did. However, there is still a need to understand what this means for women.

Culture, Management Style and Career Success

Women workers have in general been separated from the predominantly male culture of organisations. The feminine gender identity at work has been suppressed or at best marginalised (Davies, 1990). Women managers especially are often required to exhibit what is almost a male gender identity, and are habitually viewed as exceptions to women in general (cf. Hearn and Parkin, 1991). This is not helped by the poor emphasis organisations give to the detail of women's lives. In the OM debate, men relied on the company to look after their every need - 'loyalty = company benevolence' (Thompson and McHugh, 1990). This however was not the case for women, some of whom required day-care facilities, paternity leave, etc., but never received it.

Moreover, this has not been restricted to western European countries (Pfau-Effinger, 1993), which has resulted in more part-time work being taken by women (Arber and Gilbert, 1992; Morris, 1991). While some of these omissions are reinvented as ways forward to some extent with the new CC traders, it remains a 'male thing', women have been comprehensively excluded despite their increasing numbers:

The difficulty lies not in the provision of childcare facilities, but the cost. (Male)

There are still two distinct management groups, men on one side and women on the other. We still don't share more information than is necessary. (Male)

Closely linked to the CC debate, in terms of a life outside work, is the notion of work intensification. Interviewees believed that their function had been subject to work intensification in recent months - much of this was voluntary.[11] The intensification came via the greater volume of work which they were being asked to deal with. This was caused by overall reductions in organisational size while work volume remained steady:

We used to have a project planning department. Now my role has expanded to take on board the planning stage as well.

I like having a greater role to play, it's more satisfying really, though a little tiring at times.

The increase in work also affected the way women saw their organisations, but not work per se:

I think it's a general malaise, all companies are feeling the pinch. People are being asked to do more for their salary. In the end they work you till your wrung out. I still love the challenge work gives me though.

To take this a step closer to understanding how CC affected the women employees, we can look at the emotional responses for both men and women. These were broadly similar when asking how the culture of their organisation made them feel emotionally. Both men and women felt that being a manager made them feel less human than otherwise. This culture made women managers by necessity tougher and less 'emotional' (cf. Fineman, 1993). Something like this naturally affects relations between colleagues, usually making them more competitive, 'Almost cut- throat'. If this is true, we need to be careful when judging responses concerning 'team playing' and sharing corporate values. However, the results were similar for men and women.

CC - A Value Shared is a Value Wholed

All the interviewees organisations were attempting to achieve shared values or culture, which were meant to evoke feelings of enterprise community and pride, but these did not always mean utilising individuals' skills:

We had a weekend away, but it was a trip for the boys really, we women never got a real chance to express our abilities. I found I had to be 'one of the boys' just to get heard.

The use of shared values can be seen as the need to achieve control while disguising it, to tap employee compliance and effort through delegation and ensure its responsible use (cf. Coates, 1992). However, within this there is little space for women or their expression of attributes not reconciled towards the organisation:

Human resource management doesn't recognise gender, it doesn't see your other life, it doesn't see society. It doesn't see anything in order to make the organisation work.

Both men and women felt, in this vein, that the organisation appeared not to have their best interests at heart, a real blow for the CC supposition. This again disputes the notion that people felt they were team players. However, at a localised level, they were pulling as a team:

I really try hard at the general staff level, but if your not a bloke you don't get the reciprocation. What can you do? I want to participate fully in the organisation.

It was more the case women felt they put in the effort, but that their organisations' did not. Here we can see that the CC thesis does not account for the contemporary feeling exhibited by its female organisational members.

The increasing tendency for employing organisations to distinguish between strategic 'core' employees and contract, 'peripheral' and support workers, also suggests that a hierarchy of occupations and careers for women cannot be juxtaposed as has been the convention (cf. Aryee, 1994; Hendry, 1990). This naturally might lead to status frustration if isolated from the wider social malaise. No longer are there studies of 'bureaucratic' careers, these have long since been replaced with 'flexible' ones (figure 4).

Figure 5: The Bureaucratic and Flexible Careers
Code of Conduct



De- personalised

Rule- following, Inter-PositionalNegotiated rule making, Inter- personal
Cognitive Style
Bureaucratic personalityCharismatic personality
Role Performance
Individual assignmentsTeam-work and project management
Mode of Social Control
Impersonal, Explicit rulesPersonalised, Implicit rules
Explicit and extendedImplicit and truncated
Leadership Style
Command and controlFacilitate and empower
Position and statusLeadership and contribution
Explicit achievement criteria/ time-servingImplicit achievement criteria/ contribution and personal compatibility
Corporate Culture
< hr noshade>(adapted from Brown, 1995: p. 39)

These focus on the ideas of the organisation and not the individual at all. This apparently contradicts HRM and performance appraisal and its efforts at integration (Coates, 1995). However, this does not seem to be a dilemma for management. What is inevitable from these flexible career patterns, is that they are inherently insecure, especially for women. No longer is it simply a question of gaining access to a superior job, but of maintaining one's employability. Hence the need for externally accredited credentials within the studied population:

There is an emphasis on qualification now, there never used to be. The appraisal process is geared towards who has got the least and why. (Male)

Such emphasis places more prominence on women to not only undertake courses after work, thereby putting in extra hours over organisational and domestic hours, but also to have more qualifications per status level (cf. Bagilhole, 1994; O'Reilly, 1992). This also adversely affects personal relationships:

My husband and I were divorced last year because of my job. He said I loved it more than him. It gets to the point where you are married to the job, but then so was he to his.

Both men and women agreed that personal performance and results were the main criteria by which they were judged by their organisation, not simply being part of the team. These ironically, are individual measurements gauged by performance appraisal, not team work results. This is a traditional sphere of status accumulation (cf. Bowles and Coates, 1993), not a supposed HRM. Despite this there are still strong links with the organisation through commitment and loyalty, though respondents feel it less from the organisation.

Their 'training' was viewed as part of the credential inflation occurring while individuals "are forced to sort out their careers". It is no longer enough to have a degree, these must be topped up with industry specific qualifications, preferably gained at or from an 'old university' (Guardian, 5/9/95). In particular they express a preference for candidates who are CC 'charismatic team-players', and not the traditional OM ideal of 'bureaucratic cogs'. These individuals provide a constant stream of new ideas and ways of working to enhance the organisation.

The distinction between their official self and the personal self was thus weakened within the work situation. This lead to an exposure of the complete person in the assessment of adequate performance, reflected in the use of profiles, assessment centres and appraisal (Coates, 1994). Moreover, the greater the emphasis upon 'normative' control, the greater was the demand for interviewees to exhibit strong cultural affiliation to colleagues and the organisation.

It is this cognate profiling of men and women that throws doubt on an OM analysis, and the contemporary CC that fully encompasses the individual and demands commitment.

Organisation Person - Commitment, Trust and Satisfaction

An important area for the interviews was whether individuals were committed to their organisation. The results did not support previous assertions on the commitment of women to organisations being vastly lower in relation to that of men (cf. Cockburn, 1991). In this respect women were more frank than men:

Commitment is important for any organisation, as it is here. We need to have committed and loyal staff to function, everything relies on everyone else. (Male)

Of course I'm committed to this organisation, it's my life, my livelihood. I enjoy what I do and I'm good at it. I don't want to be just a housewife, I want to be respected too.

Alternatively this frankness could be due to women not being locked into a masculine CC imagery cycle. If women were not committed, it was due to the bureaucratic management style of their organisation.[12] On the whole, women felt their relationship with their immediate manager was least cause for their lack of commitment, and accounted for their team playing. Levels of pay were least responsible for both sexes commitment. Again we can argue that women are subject to the same influences as men and vice versa exhibiting the same responses. Again this puts a separate gendered understanding of personal commitment on the defensive:

I'm committed. What you have to understand is that this is my job, not just raising kids, that's my other life.

CC is thus a:

Medium of changing the simulacra of an original identity in the organisation which does not exist ... thus erasing the members feeling of the history of the organisation. The history of the organisation thus becomes the copied 'basic' values of the moment, and yesterday's copy is a far distant past (Schultz, 1989: p. 14).

The production of commitment therefore, is at the expense of the creativity shown by the consumers of CC - employees, who have 'an organisational view, way of doing things. We are expected to stick to that'.

This might be reflected in the findings of Lam (1992), who argued women were less likely to have feelings of trust and belonging in an organisational sense as they were marginalised politically, but were likely to have a solid belonging to other women within the organisation. Hence the peer status approval sought in the survey data. Women interviewees were thus less likely to trust their organisation in its dealings with them. Gender is thus not a good tool to detect responses to the organisation's wishes vis commitment and trust, as these have different bases between men and women.

Despite the forgoing difficulties with trust, many from the interviews were satisfied with issues of pay, self-respect, status, security, promotion and personal growth within their organisations. They had shared the organisational values. However, this was not generally reflected in the particular position of women. While many women felt committed to their organisation, they also felt their job did not give them self-respect/esteem within the organisation. This was also true for status. Women continue to be marginalised from the organisational benefits that men apparently receive:

I have tried to get into middle management for some time now, but I get thwarted at every turn. My appraisal is never quite good enough for them. It sort of makes me less committed.

Nevertheless, women were capable of manipulating the trivia of work processes, to fashion minor triumphs in their personal narratives of resistance to their incarceration within the organisation (Turner, 1990) - 'I often let his errors go out unchanged, why should I bother'. In this way they created a symbolic surround that remained impervious to control by the institution that encompassed them. Within this they could create a sense of identity which could be preserved (cf. Solzhenitsyn, 1974). However, in respect of this, both sexes have experienced aggression, irritability, frustration, tiredness, and cynicism in relation to their job/organisation.

These however, have not driven the vast majority to drink or illness - yet. A small proportion of respondents said the increase in their work loads had in some way increased their alcohol consumption. The majority of these were women suffering from the intensification of work. What we might deduce from this, is that while men are augmenting their sanity and releasing work pressures outside the organisation without alcohol, women increasingly appear to be adopting the traditional male avenues of tension/stress release and increasing their alcohol consumption (cf. Eccleston, 1989):

I find a drink helps me to unwind. It's quite stressful at work these days and I need a drink to get through the chores left for me at home. I'd go mad otherwise.

This presents the question of who now influences these individuals work intentions and careers as they appear to resemble a male response to work.

Influential Sources of Satisfaction

Those women whose alcohol consumption had risen argued that their organisations were the biggest single influence on their careers and work intentions and not their young families 'I guess it's got to be work these days. I want to get on, so it's got to be work'.

Linstead (1991) believed the role of management was to marshal the tensions between a fictionalised corporate image and its inevitable negation in reality. This 'cultural identity' offered an identity, importance and amalgamation with everyone else - a oneness. The processed identity was the simulated response to a simulated lack of identity elsewhere. As such it provided meaningful experience without its substance (Alvesson, 1990). It is difficult to avoid the contradictions this provides when you are that management:

It's like one big family here, better than the real thing. Though some days I cant quite see it and I suddenly feel all alone it's scary.

In light of recent trends that include the sharing of corporate values and attitudes (Linstead and Grafton-Small, 1992; Oliver, 1990), the question of influence was posed to define the influential differences between the organisation and those who populate it.

In terms of who most influences their career, both men and women were sure that the single biggest influence was their organisation, followed by their families. Those who least influence career choices would appear to be friends. While women sought respect from other women managers, men were less inclined to seek status approval from their peers in terms of their career aspirations, "Due to all the back-biting". This supports Lam's (1992) idea concerning the gender loyalty of work. It is also due to men no longer seeing work as the 'be all and end all' (Male), and is an attempt to move away from the organisation as site of main satisfaction in a time of economic crisis:

I don't see work as my whole life any more. My wife showed me that there was more to life than work. I feel lots better now. (Male)

It can also be discerned that women are less influenced by their families than their male counterparts. This tends to contradict accepted wisdom and again places doubt on the continuation of the separate gendered analysis. In part this is due to a desire on behalf of women to reach positions denied to them previously:

All my mother could do was be a secretary I wanted more from my life than nappies and a lazy husband, I want respect.

It is important to see this in relation to women's responses concerning the effects of work on relations with their families. In this respect women see their relations with their families as positively influenced by their work, 'I'm a better role model for my girls now'. This might be due in part to the fact that these women filled managerial positions rather than other white-collar or manual positions (cf. Crompton and Jones, 1984). As such, this represents the desire of women to become part of the organisational sphere at a senior level, rather than remain at the lower echelons of power. It is significant that these women are influenced a great deal by their colleagues and feel more than men, that work has a positive affect on their relations with their families. It can therefore be seen as a means of empowerment for women leaving domestic household labour behind as their main form of work (cf. Cockburn, 1991; Morris, 1989).

Women also expressed that their family was 'the' major source of satisfaction in their lives, as did men. This represents more of a change for men, and underlines that women view their families differently when in managerial positions. What actually occurs is that women's views mature to one where they are proud from a distance, much as men have been in the past:

I'm kinda proud of my family. I feel like I'm doing something good for them. I'm glad I can provide for them.

It also reinforces the move away by men from the organisation as a site of satisfaction and a move towards their private lives/spheres instead. Especially as men felt that their personal leisure interests were more important than their careers, which also coincided with them believing their personal friendships provided more satisfaction than their employment. Women now gained more from their employment than activities outside work[13]:

I used to think work was the most important thing in my life. Now I believe I get more satisfaction out of my friends. Work is fine, but you cant 'know' it like a friend. (Male)

Hence the emergence of symbolism in organisations is essentially a creative process not Commitment is thus the result of the way in which meaning is staged rather than how it is transmitted to and from the unconscious individual (Linstead and Grafton- Small, 1992), the result from the study being women's increased reception. Symbolically, commentators have assumed that meaning for individuals is relatively fixed and uni-dimensional within organisations. The result being cohesion, unity and commitment. Young (1989) however argues every event contains several meanings simultaneously. Outward images of commitment and cohesion naturally contain inner fragmentation and/or incongruity (cf. Lincoln and Kalleberg, 1990). This we can see from the convergence between male and female identity at work, which is causing increased alcohol use and stresses.

This can also be illustrated by the area of willingness to be relocated by the organisation. While women managers are traditionally assumed to be tied to the husbands occupation, and are thus seen as a burden on flexible deployment (Still, 1992), over half of women respondents were willing to relocate for the furtherance of their career. Such a position denotes a commitment still to their occupation/career, bolstered by the fact that these individuals were also committed to their organisation. In part this dispels the myth that women are a liability in relation to men when an organisation wishes to relocate them around the country and more specifically that they lack the necessary commitment (Morris, 1991).


Using both the survey and interview data provided a fuller picture of the way women are affected by CC. There is now a large body of material employing both quantitative and qualitative methods (eg. Ogbonna and Noon, 1995). A recurrent theme in organisation studies is the micro-macro linkage, between agency and structure. The term triangulation was first coined in 1966 by Webb et al , and presumes a priori that no one data collection method could ever be sufficient. Most users have regarded it as providing extra validity to findings. According to Fiske and Campbell (1959), a successful triangulation study uses different methods to arrive at the same answer to a single theoretical question. In the present study the survey data was used to confirm and support the interviews focusing towards a single end - the way in which changes in organisational CC has affected women. It is with this background that the present study is carried out, using both quantitative and qualitative methods to arrive at the same conclusion.[14]

From this use of methods we can determine three important factors in the study; the psychological costs, the preoccupation with CC and the changes of gender.

First, despite the pressures that surround the individual as existential person, it is not contemporary OM, or indeed an organisation person, whom we can see as better off. As Whyte (1956) clearly described, and the data illustrates, there are psychological costs involved for those who wish to serve organisations and to submit to organisational control. For women these appear to be the loss of femininity and an adoption of masculine attributes (cf. Billing and Alvesson, 1994). The women studied here became subject to increased levels of stress and the pressures of work drove a distance between them and their families. Much of this has arisen not through 'lessons' on how to be a manager, but through example 'you learn from those around you day by day'. In this way women have appeared to become masculine and 'harder' in their attitudes towards social relations. This resulted in women increasingly turning to alcohol as a means to alleviate such stress that adopting CC brings for them.

This CC crusade, its strategy and mechanisms are more subtle and insidious than anything earlier experienced in the management of organisations. Rather than making the organisation a surrogate extended family of harmony and co-operation as Japanese examples promulgate (Aryee, 1994), CC has made it become the Procrustean place it always aspired to. This was illustrated in the study by the sacrifice many women had made of their individuality and femininity. In consequence their humanity has altered. Women were affected by these sacrifices in their responses to levels of stress at work (Clark et al, 1995). No longer were women overly considerate of others in their lives and they cared less about family responses to their actions and sought 'to make them proud of me by doing my best at work'. In the process they became both cynical and tougher in their dealings with partners who did not help out, families were seen as creating more problems than could be solved alone. This was reflected at work through women seeking out each other's support rather than - male - line colleagues, much like men have in the past with networks.

Ultimately there must be a tension between an organisation and an individual, as Whyte (1956) believed. However, to submit to the new ethic of organisation for women, means perhaps more than it did for him. The organisational conditions that currently spawn CC can be regarded as dehumanising and antiethical to the true interests of any individual, especially women. The group or mass mind that these HRM conditions aim to elicit are ones that have their own dangers, more specifically in relation to the status of the individual and her or his subordination to collective masculine interests and goals.

Hence, the second area of note, the present preoccupation with culture commitment by HRM. This can be seen as a result of a general trend towards cultural fragmentation and social disintegration. It attempts to bring individuals together in the organisation to work together in harmony and in work production systems that create greater profitability with minimal investment in machinery (Amin, 1994).[15] This affects among other things, women's work morale, relationships to authority and compliance in a number of different areas such as the acceptance of job enlargement, reductions in the porosity of the working day and their view of domestic responsibilities, which become more burdensome as they conform to the masculine norm at work.

We can see from the data that it has become economically expedient to manage employees' feelings and meanings under CC, as the subjectivity - compliance - of the employee can no longer be guaranteed or taken-for-granted. This may be what Gabriel (1992) meant when he spoke of the images of 'over-controlled and over-socialized' individuals, their options being essentially to submit or to rebel - only extremes. For women this resulted in being unable to meet children from school, missing the family's evening meal and having to see colleagues as the same as themselves. Ultimately this will re-create women as those that represent the dominant organisational form - men. This is necessary for the modern organisation due to its reliance on delivering 'just-in-time' where even a single error can halt production. In this incarnation individuality is lost to a common goal and organisational work form.

The present investigation sought to analyse the relationships and reception of this need for commitment and compliance for women. It is the new CC thesis, argued, by some, to be post-fordism (Amin 1994) that has made the roles of women in organisations more crucial to profitable operating outcomes. Ironically it is the feminine qualities that organisations require to bring workforces together (Bowles, 1993; Fearfull and Kerfoot, 1996). However, they appear poor at utilising them in a meaningful way. In supporting this the study also highlighted the changes for men. So, while contemporary women managers are entreated to become part of a male organisation in return for the organisation taking an interest in their lives, wants and needs, an HRM prerequisite; men are seeing work as less of a be all and end all in its own right. They are beginning to see that both their lives external to work and the family and their responsibilities towards it, as increasingly important to who they are.

Moreover, despite the presence of much research focusing on the abilities of employees to consciously resist the organisation's attempts to impose its values (Armstrong et al, 1981; Collinson, 1992; Kirkbride, 1988; Linstead and Grafton-Small, 1992), the study illustrated that individual managers of both sexes, to a large extent, still supported the processes that were eroding their individuality within their organisations. They were not resisting but colluding with pertinent power structures which was altering the way individuals saw themselves. Future research however, will need to question this supposition further.

Thus the meaning behind CC is not the rather old-fashioned imputation of control to the rationale of the machine - its monotony - but to its inevitability as an extension of ourselves. For organisations it 'is to take seriously the subjectivity which is the crucial characteristic of human affairs and to treat this subjectively' (Checkland and Scholes, 1991: p. 30). Here CC becomes the reality we thought had dissipated with 'Fordism' and a vision of Chaplin's Modern Times. The computer, our 'tool', for example, turns out to be a greater shackle than the automated line (cf. Gabriel, 1992). The attempt in contemporary organisations is to increase autonomy and discretion, etc., but at a price - the loss of individuality, sexuality and femininity (Truss, 1993).[16] This form of commitment is 'control-by- seduction' rather than 'control-by-repression', and is the experimentation with a wider range of practices including ideological manipulation and cultural indoctrination (Reed and Whitaker, 1992).[17] Reed (1990) has gone as far as saying that this consists of technologies of power that constitutes subjects as disposed to participate in such mechanisms. We can see this in how women managers have 'become' more like their male counterparts. Notwithstanding this, there needs to be a way of engaging these new forms in situ, within the organisation, and this is achieved through the management of symbols, commitment, trust and team work, over managers themselves.

Lastly, in gender terms the data illustrated that women were as likely to be drawn under the umbrella of organisational ethos; that they were as likely and more so, to feel committed to the organisation. This in general supports the claim that the OM analysis could not be applied to contemporary organisations as they now encompassed women much more fully. Under CC women express themselves in similar terms to men. This has not necessarily been the wholesale eradication of female attributes, but a meeting of paths, on women's part. For example, men now see the family as increasingly important in their career decisions, whereas women do so less. However, women now compare favourably with men in terms of commitment, loyalty and trust, and are, in some cases, better bets for long term future employees, as they are less likely to leave for other jobs or self-employment. They are also as likely to relocate to wherever the organisation decides. This however, has encompassed a loss of femininity.

However, while women have become crucial to the running of the contemporary organisation, they continue to be marginalised politically (McDowell and Pringle, 1992). It is still the case that women are subject to images of CC that are defined by dominant masculinity. The study illustrated that women no longer 'control' the actions traditionally seen as feminine, e.g. the emphasis on tidiness and clean factory floors. Furthermore, despite the study showing women as equally happy to stay with or move on behalf, of the organisation, they continue to be marginalised through their domestic roles and the persistent expectation that they will not stay with the organisation for any length of time.

Thus the data illustrates that CC does not deal adequately with gender (women) in the organisational setting, as it now encompass women, whose influence in and on organisations is changing the terrain of analysis. Women are also adopting or accessing areas of their selves previously denied. These were previously given over to the self-sacrifice of domestic roles. Women want to get on in organisations, which they view as a form of self-identity as potent as wife or mother (Scott et al, 1996). It also illustrates that CC has affected more areas of social life than previously thought, though not always for the better. Women have thus received the messages of CC and taken them on board. It is the masculinist notions inherent in CC that thwart them taking advantage.

It remains to be seen how employers will cope with this altered reality of workplace gender expression, but we might hazard a guess that at present it appears to be poorly received and understood (cf. Coates, 1994). Women, for the time being, will still be viewed as poor bets for organisational commitment and HRM.


1 Most commentators agree the field of organisation study has been in a state of considerable flux and uncertainty (e.g. Dent, 1992; Reed and Hughes, 1992). Appreciable changes can be seen in both the way organisations are researched and the priorities of organisations themselves (Hassard and Pym, 1990).

2 A cultural quick-fix however, is unthinkable in the present turbulent environment (Turner, 1992).

3 Tempered by the understanding that certain individuals will 'never' make this criteria, nor reach employment of this ilk (Brown and Scase, 1991).

4 While women have improved their position, they are still not achieving the really top positions - yet.

5 The emphasis upon workplace cleanliness for both sexes for one. However, old identities are not entirely shed as men will attempt to reassert their sexuality elsewhere. For example, the insidious situation of the sexual poster syndrome which intimidates women (Cockburn, 1985: p. 176).

6 The case now exists where some of those organisations thought to be truly representative of the British way of life, now have ownership abroad, Rover being one, Leyland-Volvo buses another (Flecker et al, 1992).

7 Only 5% of women respondents envisaged moving into self-employment at some time in the future. This tends to explode the Tory myth of the self-employed society (Bogenhold and Staber, 1993; Curran, 1990; Wheelock, 1992). It also points up that women in general are more likely to stay with their organisation than men - again contrary to accepted organisational wisdom.

8 Smircich (1983) for one believes the 'talk' concerning corporate culture is mainly rhetoric and questions the value of speaking about a (single) culture at all.

9 All quotes, unless otherwise stated, are from anonymous women.

10 To present the correct image, for example, of an engineer, a woman must present an idealised image of 'womanhood', by which she is judged first, and only then does the ability to perform the task come into the reckoning. In spite of attempts to promote the image of 'good' employee, it is the feminine qualities that employers judge individuals on. It is the way to identity and recognition. In some cases this has lead to sexual abuse (Kramer, 1989) and to individuals feeling their selves have been seriously affected (Schroedel, 1985) - legal regulation and redress has proved inept and outmoded (York, 1989).

11 Voluntary, not directed, signifies employees adopting the principles of HRM.

12 This is a positive shot in the arm for a move towards an HRM approach for employee relations (cf. Guest et al, 1993).

13 Men have adopted a positive stance to their experience of work effecting their family relations. They also feel leisure is a major source of satisfaction in their lives. Such findings moves the notion of men away from the organisation to other pursuits where identity and commitment were found. Women by contrast were becoming more inwardly focused, looking to the organisation as source of satisfaction, much as men originally did.

14 Often where divergence of results has arisen, researchers decide to adopt one set of findings as 'more true', negating the benefit of multi-methods, 'It is in the spirit of triangulation that inconsistent results may emerge; it is not its spirit that one should simply opt for one set of findings rather than another' (Bryman, 1989: p. 134).

15 Dent (1992) has noted that it is all too easy to confuse this notion of a culturalist (post)modernist organisation, built on a consumption-based model, with the productionist model of flexible specialisation. The latter is really 'old wine in new bottles' (cf. Lash and Urry, 1987: pp. 3 - 7).

16 There is more to single colour overalls for all than cheaper cleaning bills. It is to illustrate that all individuals, be they female or male, 'are all the same here'.

17 Here the state plays an important part through the regulation of legal constraints from the organisation to societal (Aglietta, 1979), thus creating more flexible relationships for the capital accumulation inherent in organisational action (Harvey, 1989).


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