Negotiating Tensions between Theory and Practice
Edited by Julie Wolfram Cox, Tony G. LeTrent-Jones, Maxim Voronov and David Weir
Chapter 14: ‘I Didn’t Have the Balls for It’: How a ‘Feminine’ Discourse of Consulting Opens a Critical Space
Sheila Marsh INTRODUCTION This chapter explores the everyday work of organizational consulting from the perspective of discourses of consulting and sketches the possibility of a ‘feminine’1 discourse to help conceptualize ‘critical consulting’: practice that aims for progressive goals of social change, through both its (potential for) influence on public policy and the way the consultant works with organizations and individuals. It draws in notions of ethics, of questioning prevailing managerial norms and of enacting democratic principles. It aims for reflexivity without narcissism. In my research on consulting interactions (Marsh 2006) the issue of gender came up consistently. My auto-ethnographic study of small-scale consulting work in the public and not-for-profit sector explored interaction using critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1992, 2003), alongside a genealogical review of advice giving in the pre-modern (Marsh 2007). Both elements of the study highlighted gendered issues: concern for closeness and distance, of being Other, of the primacy of relationships, or the desire to make a difference for others recurred. I link these to Fletcher’s (2001) ‘relational practice’. Her ethnographic study takes a poststructuralist feminist approach to the gendered behaviour of women at work, subsequently ‘disappeared’ by prevailing (‘masculine’) organizational discourse. The gender reverberations at the core of my research (and of my practice) were succinctly expressed in a colleague’s story – from which I take my title. I begin by discussing the ‘feminine’, linking this to literature on consulting, and then briefly describe my research. I draw on my material to illustrate elements of a ‘feminine’ discourse of...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.