CGO Working Papers

CGO Working Papers disseminate trends and new developments in research, theory, and practice related to gender equity, diversity and organizational effectiveness.


CGO Working Paper No. 22
"Transformational Learning in Women's Leadership Development Training" Gelaye Debebe, April 2009

As the number of women in all job categories has increased, there has been corresponding interest in cultivating women's leadership talent. Feminist scholars have suggested that to develop as leaders, women must recognize, question, and replace old mindsets and practices based on limiting, internalized, and gendered messages. This CGO Working Paper uses and extends ideas from the transformational learning literature to explore how this type of change is achieved among women in formal leadership training.

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CGO Working Paper No. 21
"Personal and Organizational Success Factors of Women Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) in Russia."
Tatiana Iakovleva and Jill Kickul, January 2007.

While the growth in the number of women led businesses worldwide has contributed to the global economy and to the surrounding communities that they serve, there is a lack of knowledge on female entrepreneurs. The purpose of this study is to add new theoretical and empirical insights into the success factors of small firms owned and run by women and currently operating within the turbulent Russian economy. We present a conceptual framework exploring personal and organizational factors that are linked to four key elements that facilitate firm success. In utilizing a very large sample of women entrepreneurs in Russia, this research contributes to our understanding of how the strategic advantage, based on entrepreneurial orientation, acts as a critical link between different types of individual and firm level resources to influence firm performance. Based on our findings, it is possible to conclude that the ability of female entrepreneurs to identify opportunities, the richness of growth opportunities in the environment, and the entrepreneurial behavior of the firm, as well as the availability of financial resources personal commitment to keeping the business going, are crucial factors associated with superior firm performance. Results point to the conclusion that the performance of Russian female enterprises can be explained with the help of Western theories. These findings open the way researchers in former Soviet based economies to facilitate the research on phenomena like entrepreneurship, phenomena which are so important for the development of any economy.

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CGO Working Paper No. 20
"Toward a New Model of Intentions: The Complexity of Gender, Cognitive Style, Culture, Social Norms, and Intensity on the Pathway to Entrepreneurship."
Jill Kickul and Norris Krueger, September 2005.

While we have learned that intentions are central to entrepreneurial thinking and thus entrepreneurial action, we have not yet explored the pathways to intent. Despite previous research identifying many of the antecedents associated with entrepreneurial intentions, little systematic research examines the role of cognitive style in entrepreneurial cognition. In specific, we need a better, richer understanding of how cognitive style influences a nascent entrepreneur's development of his or her own perceptions of intentionality. In this study we examine the complex interaction of cognitive style with social norms, location, and gender, finding evidence that there are multiple pathways to an entrepreneurial intent.

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CGO Working Paper No. 19
"Context for the Legitimacy of Women Entrepreneurs: The Role of Expert Capital."
Jill Kickul and Lindsay Titus, August 2005.

Research has shown women entrepreneurs face unique circumstances concerning critical entrepreneurial factors (e.g., funding success, credibility). Our undertaking adds to this work by incorporating signaling theory to guide a two-stage study utilizing PSED (Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics) data (n = 711) in a gendered context. We forecast entrepreneurial outcomes of funding success, net worth, and longevity via risk-taking preference, legitimacy, and social capital. Results, based on non-parametric analyses and statistical modeling, suggest social capital from experts (i.e., "expert capital") leads to perceptions of high legitimacy and the procurement of venture funding for women entrepreneurs.

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CGO Working Paper No. 18
"Simultaneity and the Limits of Sisterhood in One Women's Membership Organization"
Laura H. Roskos, January 2004.

Based on interviews, observations, and a review of the organization's printed materials conducted during the 2002-2003 programming year, this paper utilizes a variety of theoretical rubrics to explore the impact of Women in International Security (WIIS), a Washington, D.C.-based membership organization. By re-storying the organization within broader contexts of political philosophy and social history, I attempt to shed light on some of the incongruities latent in WIIS's efforts to both support elite power structures and increase women's access to these structures. This study concludes that some of the values and behaviors thought to foster a sense of sorority within the professional sector of foreign and defense policy are not conducive to the values and behaviors which would support women as civic actors engaged in realizing democratic political regimes.

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CGO Working Paper No. 17
"The Paradox of Post Heroic Leadership: Gender Matters"
Joyce K. Fletcher, March 2003.

This paper explores a number of paradoxes embedded in new models of leadership, which are commonly called post heroic. It argues that although these models emphasize leadership as a social process dependent on social networks of influence, the concepts are often presented as gender- and, to a lesser degree, power-neutral, not only in theory, but in practice. The paper explores this phenomenon, arguing that the concepts are not gender-, power-, or sex-neutral, but instead are rooted in a set of social interactions in which "doing gender," "doing power," and "doing leadership" are linked in complicated ways. It explores these dynamics and suggests that theories of leadership that fail to consider the gender/power implications of social interactions and networks of influence may unwittingly undermine organizational efforts to move to these new models and/or result in the co-optation of the models, bringing them into the mainstream discourse in a way that undermines their radical challenge to current work practices, structures, and norms.

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CGO Working Paper No. 16
"Viewing Dyads in Triadic Terms: Toward a Conceptualization of the In/Visible Third in Relationships Across Difference"
Karen Proudford, February 2003.

Typically, when we examine relationships between two groups of people, we limit our examination to the two parties of interest. Outsiders may have some influence on the relationship, but they are clearly defined as being outside the boundary of the relationship in question. This paper presents an analytical framework for understanding attempts at building alliances, partnerships, and working relationships across race, sexual identity, and culture. The framework suggests that dyadic relationships be examined in triadic terms to gain a fuller understanding of the dynamics between the two. Further, this paper argues that there is asymmetry with respect to the influence of outsiders on the relationship, ensuring that the two parties will not perceive third party influence in an identical way. The in/visible third party is both present for one party and absent for the second, making it difficult for the two parties to establish a foundation for working together. Three illustrations of the framework are offered, using potential partnerships across race, union membership, and culture to illustrate the dynamics.

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CGO Working Paper No. 15
"Negotiation Through a Gender Lens"
Deborah Kolb, September 2002.

Negotiation is a critical skill for managers today. This increasing relevance of negotiation to managerial work has increased the educational demand for negotiation skills. Not surprisingly, with this concern for practice, questions about gender—specifically concerning the differences between men and women and the consequences of these differences—have been commonly asked. They have not been adequately answered. In this paper, traditional views of gender and negotiation are reviewed. An alternative perspective looks at gender as a systemic factor, influencing not only men and women, but also the very knowledge that constitutes effective negotiation practice. This perspective has the potential to expand the domain of strategic advice that can help all negotiators become more effective at what they do.

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CGO Working Paper No. 14
"Complicating Gender: The Simultaneity of Race, Gender, and Class in Organization Change(ing)"
Evangelina Holvino, June 2001.

This paper argues that in order to address the intersection of race, gender, and class we need to go beyond the liberal feminist and functionalist paradigms that dominate organizational change theory and practice. Race, gender, and class are shown to be simultaneous processes of identity, institutional, and social practice; and the impact that this re-conceptualization can have in supporting change efforts in organizations towards organizational health and justice is explored. Important differences between the experience of white women's mainstream feminist theory and practice, and women of color's theory and practice are identified. Four feminist frameworks (radical, socialist, poststructuralist, and postcolonial) are reviewed to identify what they can contribute to providing a set of "simple rules" to guide efforts at addressing the simultaneity of race, gender, and class in organizational change. These guidelines are, in turn, developed into concrete moves for crafting an organizational lens and standpoint that works the simultaneity of race, gender, and class. Three specific strategies are proposed to move forward in the research, theory, and practice of organizational change: 1) researching and publicizing the hidden stories at the intersection of race, gender, and class to help change dominant organizational narratives; 2) identifying, untangling, and changing the differential impact of everyday practices in organizations; and 3) identifying and linking internal organizational processes with external societal processes to understand organizational dynamics within a broader social context.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 13
"Tempered Radicalism Revisited: Black and White Women Making Sense of Black Women's Enactments and White Women's Silences"
E. Bell, D. Meyerson, S. Nkomo, and M. Scully, May 2001.

This paper follows two intertwined journeys: our interpretation of data about black and white women's careers and concerns and our exploration of our own standpoints and relationships as black and white women. In our first reading, the data spoke of black women's efforts to make change, address racial inequality, and "lift others as you climb"— and white women's comparative silence. We trace our dialogues among us as we made sense of this interpretation and its implications for us as black and white women, particularly black and white women working collaboratively and concerned deeply about change. This paper moves between our dialogues, which were intense and ultimately full of "aha's" for us, and our continued peeling of the layers of meaning in the data. The process is never complete—we invite you to follow our journeys thus far and to chronicle your own so that the learning continues.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 12
The Politics and Practice of Institutionalizing Gender Equity in a Post-Apartheid South Africa
Ruby Marks, March 2001.

The challenges around institutional change processes in South Africa are sharply revealing of race, gender, and class complexities as organizations struggle to move from a legacy of race and sex discrimination to the related goals of equity and organizational effectiveness. This paper discusses some of those challenges and provides a series of vignettes based on actual change processes to highlight the complexity of organizational change within the transition environment of South Africa. The paper presents a snapshot of an ongoing process of national and institutional change and is intended to provide a background and discussion through which to foreground local organizational change challenges.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 11
"Working with Diversity: A Focus on Global Organizations"
Deborah Merrill-Sands and Evangelina Holvino with James Cumming, November 2000.

This paper provides an applied knowledge base of concepts, strategies, and methods for working with diversity in organizations, particularly those operating in a global context. It synthesizes a wide range of research and experience from different disciplines, countries, and organizational settings and is designed to challenge and stimulate new ways of thinking about diversity and its meaning for organizations. We envision working with diversity as weaving diversity into the very fabric of the organization; that is, integrating the varied knowledge, experiences, perspectives, and values that people of diverse backgrounds bring into an organization's strategy, goals, work, products, systems and structures. With this framing of diversity, this paper aims to assist leaders, managers, staff, and change agents to craft a strategy and approach to working with diversity that is appropriate to their organizations' specific needs and aspirations. The paper summarizes strategic forces motivating organizations to work more intentionally with diversity; defines three distinct approaches to working with diversity: the social differences lens, the cultural differences lens, and the cognitive-functional lens; and reviews two major diversity change strategies: the organizational development approach and the action research and collaborative inquiry approach. Throughout the paper, we analyze the strengths and weakness of the various strategies and approaches presented.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 10
"Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity"
Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas, August 2000.

This paper develops theory about the conditions under which cultural diversity enhances or detracts from organizational functioning. From qualitative research in three culturally diverse organizations, we identified three different perspectives on workforce diversity: the "integration-and-learning" perspective, the "access-and-legitimacy" perspective, and the "discrimination-and-fairness" perspective. The perspective on diversity a work group held influenced how people expressed and managed tensions related to diversity, whether those who had been traditionally underrepresented in the organization felt respected and valued by their colleagues, and how people interpreted the meaning of their racial identity at work. These in turn had implications for how well the work group and its members functioned. All three perspectives on diversity had been successful in motivating managers to diversify their staffs, but only the integration-and-learning perspective provided the kind of rationale and guidance people needed to achieve sustained benefits from diversity. By identifying the conditions that intervene between the demographic composition of a work group and its outcomes, our research helps to explain mixed results on the relationship between cultural diversity and organizational functioning.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 9
"Gender, Race, and Class Dynamics in Post-Apartheid South Africa"
Ruby Marks, in collaboration with Shireen Hassim, Nozipho January-Bardill, Bongani Khumalo, and Ilze Olckers, June 2000.

Organizations in South Africa share the common project of institutional transformation. The change agenda of organizations qualifies how "difference" (race, gender, and class) will be managed. Institutional structures, cultures and norms that reflect the discarded heritage of apartheid, are still embedded in South African organizations. Challenging the implicit ideology that reflects this history is key to creating equity in organizations. The complicated consequences of these changes surface particularly in managing difference. This paper investigates the institutional landscape from the perspectives of several South Africans. Their viewpoints describe the shape of the terrain of "difference" in South African institutions and reveal emergent strategies to grapple with the complications of national change and transformation.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 8
Theories of Gender in Organizations: A New Approach to Organizational Analysis and Change. Robin J. Ely and Debra E. Meyerson, May 2000.

This paper presents a framework for understanding gender and organizational change. We consider three traditional treatments of gender and discuss the limitations of each as a basis for organizational analysis and change. We then propose a fourth approach, which treats gender as a complex set of social relations enacted across a range of social practices in organizations. Having been created largely by and for men, these social practices tend to reflect and support men's experiences and life situations and, therefore, maintain a gendered social order in which men and particular forms of masculinity dominate (Acker, 1990). We provide numerous examples of how social practices, ranging from formal policies and procedures to informal patterns of everyday social interaction, produce inequities while appearing to be gender-neutral. Drawing on previous research and our own three-year action research project, we develop an intervention strategy for changing gender relations in organizations accordingly.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 7
"Rethinking Negotiation: Feminist Views of Communication and Exchange"
Linda L. Putnam and Deborah M. Kolb, January 2000.

Negotiation is a ubiquitous activity involved in solving problems, allocating resources, and making decisions at work and in families. Whether parties are compromising over distributive issues in zero sum bargaining or making trades for mutual gain in integrative negotiation, the notion of exchange and trades are central to both negotiation theory and practice. Looking at negotiation from a feminist perspective, the exchange model marginalizes interpretive processes and relational aspects of negotiation. Co-construction is proposed as an alternative requiring the communicative competencies of collaboration and mutual appreciation. A case involving negotiations over a program fee is used to illustrate the different approaches.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 6
"Feminist Critiques of Research on Gender in Organizations"
Robin J. Ely, December 1999.

This article is a critical review of ten years of empirical research on gender in organizations published in four major academic journals. This review focuses primarily on studies of sex differences in the way people think, feel, and behave. Using several feminist perspectives, I explore how the underlying assumptions about gender and sex differences that underlie this work limit our understandings of gender, power and organizational behavior. I then develop new constructs and new directions for research on gender in organizations that incorporate feminist perspectives.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 5
"Revisiting Class: Lessons from Theorizing Race and Gender in Organizations"
Joan Acker, October 1999.

This paper examines some of the reasons that social class has been relatively neglected by feminist scholars. The study of gender and organizations has expanded rapidly in the last ten years, and considerable progress has been made in theoretically bringing together gender and race. Yet class, although regularly invoked as one of the necessary three analytic categories, has not been re-theorized in a way that facilitates its use in a combined analysis. The paper proposes ways in which feminist insights about gender and race could be used to rethink class, with a focus on bringing class relations into our understanding of gender and work organizations. Finally, it concludes by exploring two intellectual strategies for studying class and its intersections with gender and race in the on-going life of work organizations.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 4
"Disappearing Dynamics of Women of Color"
Aída Hurtado, October 1999.

This paper looks at the relationships of white women and women of Color to white patriarchy and how these relationships have affected feminists from both groups. The conflicts and tensions between white feminists and feminists of Color are viewed too frequently as lying solely in woman-to-woman relationships. These relationships, however, are affected in both obvious and subtle ways by how each of these two groups of women relate to white patriarchy. The paper explores how women of Color and white women relate to white patriarchy, the ways in which women of Color and white women are racialized, forms of resisting the seduction of white patriarchy, and the implications for theorizing women's subordination to political mobilization.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 3
"Engendering Organizational Change: A Case Study of Strengthening Gender-equity and Organizational Effectiveness in an International Agricultural Research Institute"
Deborah Merrill-Sands, Joyce Fletcher, Anne Acosta, Nancy Andrews, and Maureen Harvey, April 1999
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This case study describes, analyzes, and extracts lessons from a collaborative action research project aimed at the dual agenda of strengthening gender equity and organizational effectiveness in an international research organization. The organizational change project focused on analyzing the organization's culture in order to identify deeply held assumptions, norms, and values that were producing unintended and inhibiting consequences for both gender equity and organizational effectiveness. The interventions focused on changing work practices and processes in order to interrupt and transform these cultural assumptions. This case study is written for managers, organizational change agents, action researchers, and consultants interested in enhancing the effectiveness of organizations through strengthening gender equity. The paper lays out in detail the approach, method, process, and analysis used in this major change effort and documents the unfolding results.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 2
"Relational Practice: An Emerging Stream of Theorizing and its Significance"
Joyce Fletcher and Roy Jacques, April 1999.

This paper explores the key elements of relational practice as a theoretical perspective that is emerging at the intersection of three streams of feminist research: feminist psychology, a feminist sociology of work and feminist critique. It argues that exploring relational work from this feminist perspective highlights unique aspects that are absent from more traditional, presumably gender neutral representations of relational work. The paper delineates the intellectual roots of relational practice, and outlines its key attributes and characteristics, the belief system and skills associated with it, and the unique contribution a feminist conceptualization of relational work can make to organizational theory and practice.

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CGO Working Paper, No. 1
"Waiting for Outcomes: Anchoring Gender Equity and Organizational Change in Cultural Assumptions"
Deborah Kolb and Deborah Merrill-Sands, March 1999.

This paper argues that strategies to promote gender equity in organizations need to focus on assumptions in the organizational culture that underpin work practices and behaviors. An analytic case is used to demonstrate the importance of bringing cultural assumptions to the surface during the organizational change process and examining their implications for both gender equity and organizational effectiveness. Initial efforts aimed at changing work practices were disappointing. However, the understanding that cultural assumptions had unintended consequences for both gender equity and organizational effectiveness provided a foundation for the organization to continue to experiment after the initial intervention. In this way, they were able to move the change effort forward as opportunities opened up. The paper argues that linking changes in work practices and processes to underlying assumptions provides a basis for the organization to engage in an on-going and iterative process of inquiry, experimentation, reflection, and learning that can generate surprising and positive outcomes over time.

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