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Frances Perkins: gender, context and history in the neglect of a management theorist

Frances Perkins: gender, context and history in the neglect of a management theorist PurposeThis paper aims to achieve four things: to build on recent discussion on the neglect of Frances Perkins’ contribution to the understandings of management and organization (MOS); to surface selected insights by Perkins to reveal her potential as an important MOS scholar and practitioner; to explain some of the reasons for the neglect of Perkins, particularly by MOS scholars; and to interrogate the role of management history in the neglect of Perkins and her management and organizational insights.Design/methodology/approachThis paper adopts a feminist post-structural lens through which the authors focus on major discourses (dominant interrelated practices and ideas) that influence how people come to define themselves, others and the character of a particular phenomenon (e.g. management history). To that end, the authors have undertaken Foucauldian discourse analysis, where they examine various sources that collectively work to present a dominant idea of a given set of practices (in this case, management and organization studies and associated histories of the field). In Foucauldian terms, these interrelated practices constitute an archive that consists of various selected materials (e.g. the Roosevelt Library and the Columbia University Oral History Collection) and, in this case, works on and by Francis Perkins. Thus, the authors analyzed various materials for their discursive value (viz. the extent to which they produced and reinforced a particular notion that excluded, neglected or ignored women from any privileged role in MOS and management history).FindingsThe findings are discursive, which means that the purpose is to disrupt current knowledge of MOS and management history by revealing how its practices as a field of study serve to leave certain people (i.e. Frances Perkins), influences (i.e. the impact of the “settlement ethos” on the New Deal), and social phenomena (i.e. the New Deal) out of account.Originality/valueThe objective is to ask for a rethink of the field definition of MOS and management history, to include broader levels of social endeavour (e.g. labour, social welfare and politics) and a range of hitherto neglected theorists, in particular Frances Perkins. Achievements in labour, industry and management of organizations, credited to the New Deal, are overlooked in MOS and management and organizational history. As Secretary of Labour, Perkins researched, lobbied and ushered in critical New Deal measures which transformed working environments for men, women and children with social welfare and labour policies that contributed to the understanding of managing and organizing in the modern world. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Management History Emerald Publishing

Frances Perkins: gender, context and history in the neglect of a management theorist

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1751-1348
DOI
10.1108/JMH-09-2016-0055
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThis paper aims to achieve four things: to build on recent discussion on the neglect of Frances Perkins’ contribution to the understandings of management and organization (MOS); to surface selected insights by Perkins to reveal her potential as an important MOS scholar and practitioner; to explain some of the reasons for the neglect of Perkins, particularly by MOS scholars; and to interrogate the role of management history in the neglect of Perkins and her management and organizational insights.Design/methodology/approachThis paper adopts a feminist post-structural lens through which the authors focus on major discourses (dominant interrelated practices and ideas) that influence how people come to define themselves, others and the character of a particular phenomenon (e.g. management history). To that end, the authors have undertaken Foucauldian discourse analysis, where they examine various sources that collectively work to present a dominant idea of a given set of practices (in this case, management and organization studies and associated histories of the field). In Foucauldian terms, these interrelated practices constitute an archive that consists of various selected materials (e.g. the Roosevelt Library and the Columbia University Oral History Collection) and, in this case, works on and by Francis Perkins. Thus, the authors analyzed various materials for their discursive value (viz. the extent to which they produced and reinforced a particular notion that excluded, neglected or ignored women from any privileged role in MOS and management history).FindingsThe findings are discursive, which means that the purpose is to disrupt current knowledge of MOS and management history by revealing how its practices as a field of study serve to leave certain people (i.e. Frances Perkins), influences (i.e. the impact of the “settlement ethos” on the New Deal), and social phenomena (i.e. the New Deal) out of account.Originality/valueThe objective is to ask for a rethink of the field definition of MOS and management history, to include broader levels of social endeavour (e.g. labour, social welfare and politics) and a range of hitherto neglected theorists, in particular Frances Perkins. Achievements in labour, industry and management of organizations, credited to the New Deal, are overlooked in MOS and management and organizational history. As Secretary of Labour, Perkins researched, lobbied and ushered in critical New Deal measures which transformed working environments for men, women and children with social welfare and labour policies that contributed to the understanding of managing and organizing in the modern world.

Journal

Journal of Management HistoryEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 9, 2017

References