Writing Organization as Gendered Practice: Interrupting the Libidinal Economy

Mary Phillips, Alison Pullen*, Carl Rhodes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


While gender very much holds a place in organization studies, this is primarily in relation to being an object of study. Still largely silent and inexplicit is the gendered nature of what organization studies researchers themselves do when they research and write. Our overarching project in this essai is to render the gendered character of organization studies writing open for discussion, to disturb the taken-for-granted gender neutrality of the ways that organization studies is written, as well as to outline how it might be otherwise. The specific contribution we are led to is the setting out of the possibilities for, following Hélène Cixous, a bisexual writing of organization studies. We suggest that organization studies has been dominated by a participation in what Cixous calls a 'masculine libidinal economy'. This is a system of exchange where science, mastery and rigour are not so much an effort in inquiry, but more a form of (rough) trade through which to appease the fear of castration; the fear of not-knowing. In looking for alternatives we review recent developments in narrative methodology in organization studies and extend this through the idea of the feminine libidinal economy and towards a consideration of Cixous's practice of bisexual writing - a writing that challenges masculine orthodoxy by confusing it rather than attempting to replace it with another (feminine) orthodoxy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-333
Number of pages21
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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