Middle management and the enactment of masculinity

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Adopting a radically diverse organisation studies approach that embraces a Cultural Studies analytical framework, this thesis examines the ways in which today's middle managers enact masculinity. Considering the gender-orientated 'ways of being' of a middle manager within a contemporary organisational environment, the research gives equal credence to space, language and the body - termed Locations of Enactment - at a time when masculinity (and even middle management) is thought to be 'in crisis'. Focusing, primarily, upon a single case-study - a local authority social services department that provides child-care for a homogenous South Wales community (Wood Valley) - the research is placed within its contemporaneous social, cultural and organisational context: a public sector that, as it is currently experiencing severe staff recruitment and retention difficulties, can be deemed to be 'in crisis' also. Utilising a grounded theory methodology that acknowledges both the research setting and the data itself as 'organic' entities, the middle managers of Wood
Valley are understood to be dynamic organisational players who, on a daily basis, attempt to balance their work duties with their home responsibilities. As middle managers they are perceived to be 'in the middle' in a multitude of ways: they are 'in the middle' of an organisational hierarchy; they operate as intermediaries 'between' Wood Valley and outside agencies; they are middle managers who are precariously placed between the working-classes (whom they have distanced themselves from through social mobility) and the middle-classes (as their blatant attempts to prove their worthiness within that strata only heightens their 'anxious' bodily display).

Furthermore, as middle-class 'bureaucrats' who work and live among a staunchly working-class community, the middle managers of Wood Valley often find themselves singled-out and scathingly criticised as socially and culturally 'different'. With this in mind this thesis insists that, as an increasing number of individuals are finding themselves employed within white-collar administrative posts, middle managers deserve to find themselves the focus of studies that are determined 'to put the humans back into organisation studies'.
Date of AwardOct 2002
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Dunkerley (Supervisor) & John Beynon (Supervisor)


  • Sex role in the workplace
  • Middle managers

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