• Leadership and charisma: A desire that cannot speak its name?

      Harding, Nancy H.; Lee, Hugh; Ford, Jackie M.; Learmonth, M. (2011)
      Leadership has proved impossible to define, despite decades of research and a huge number of publications. This article explores managers’ accounts of leadership, and shows that they find it difficult to talk about the topic, offering brief definitions but very little narrative. That which was said/sayable provides insights into what was unsaid/ unsayable. Queer theory facilitates exploration of that which is difficult to talk about, and applying it to the managers’ talk allows articulation of their lay theory of leadership. This is that leaders evoke a homoerotic desire in followers such that followers are seduced into achieving organizational goals. The leader’s body, however, is absent from the scene of seduction, so organizational heteronormativity remains unchallenged. The article concludes by arguing that queer and critical leadership theorists together could turn leadership into a reverse discourse and towards a politics of pleasure at work.
    • Towards a performative theory of resistance: Senior managers and revolting subject(ivitie)s

      Harding, Nancy H.; Ford, Jackie M.; Lee, Hugh (2017)
      This paper develops a performative theory of resistance. It uses Judith Butler’s and Karen Barad’s theories of performativity to explore how resistance (to organisational strategies and policies) and resistants (those who resist such strategies and policies) co-emerge, within and through complex intra-actions of entangled discourses, materialities, affect and space/time. The paper uses empirical materials from a case study of the implementation of a talent management strategy. We analyse interviews with the senior managers charged with implementing the strategy, the influence of material, non-sentient actors, and the experiences of the researchers when carrying out the interviews. This leads to a theory that resistance and resistants emerge in moment-to-moment co-constitutive moves that may be invoked when identity or self is put in jeopardy. Resistance, we suggest, is the power (residing with resistants) to say ‘no’ to organizational requirements that would otherwise threaten to render the self abject.
    • Who is 'the middle manager'?

      Harding, Nancy H.; Lee, Hugh; Ford, Jackie M. (2014-10)
      Middle managers occupy a central position in organizational hierarchies, where they are responsible for implementing senior management plans by ensuring junior staff fulfil their roles. However, explorations of the identity of the middle manager offer contradictory insights. This article develops a theory of the identity of the middle manager using a theoretical framework offered by the philosopher Judith Butler and empirical material from focus groups of middle managers discussing their work. We use personal pronoun analysis to analyse the identity work they undertake while talking between themselves. We suggest that middle managers move between contradictory subject positions that both conform with and resist normative managerial identities, and we also illuminate how those moves are invoked. The theory we offer is that middle managers are both controlled and controllers, and resisted and resisters. We conclude that rather than being slotted into organizational hierarchies, middle managers constitute those hierarchies.