Behind the Mask: Hybrid Identity Work of Indian Women Managers in Corporate South Africa

In: African and Asian Studies

Abstract

There is a dearth of research on how women managers engage in hybrid identity work during their career transitions, and the aim of this study was to fill this gap. Interviews were conducted with 13 Indian women managers in senior and top managerial positions, and the data obtained were analysed using thematic analysis. The narratives indicate that previously disadvantaged groups (Indian women in this case) are caught between subscribing to cultural values and concurrently conforming to organisational norms. Participants’ answers to the question: “Who am I as an Indian female manager?” reveal that during their career ascendency these women engage in a tremendous amount of hybrid identity work and rework related to their self-concept of being an “ideal” Indian female and simultaneously being a “perfect” manager. Nevertheless, in their career transitions to managerial positions, these women are selective in the hybrid identity work they engage in.

  • AlvessonM. and H. Willmott. 2002. “Identity Regulation as Organizational Control: Producing the Appropriate Individual.” Journal of Management Studies 39 (5): 619-644. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6486.00305.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AnderssonT. 2010. “Struggles of Managerial Being and Becoming. Experiences from Managers’ Personal Development Training.” Journal of Management Development 29 (2): 167-176. https://doi.org/10.1108/02621711011019305.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AndrewsP. E. 2001. “From Gender Apartheid to Non-Sexism: The Pursuit of Women’s Rights in South Africa.” North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation 26 (3): 1-23.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AntecolH. and K. Bedard. 2002. “The Relative Earnings of Young Mexican, Black and White Women.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 56 (1): 122-135.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AshforthB. E. 2001. Role Transitions in Organizational Life: An Identity-Based Perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

  • AshforthB. E.G. E. Kreiner and M. Fugate. 2000. “All in a Day’s Work: Boundaries and Micro Role Transitions.” Academy of Management Review 25 (3): 472-491. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2000.3363315.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AtewologunD. and V. Singh. 2010. “Challenging Ethnic and Gender Identities. An Exploration of UK Black Professionals’ Identity Construction.” Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 29 (4): 332-347. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610151011042394.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bazylevych M. Y. 2010. “Negotiating New Roles New Moralities: Ukrainian Women Physicians at a Post-Socialist Crossroad.” PhD thesis State University of New York at Albany New York NY.

  • BeechN. 2008. “On the Nature of Dialogic Identity Work.” Organization 15 (1): 51-74. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508407084485.

  • BentonL. and J. Muth. 2000. “On Cultural Hybridity: Interpreting Colonial Authority and Performance.” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 1 (1): 1-24.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BhabhaH. 1994. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge.

  • BlenkinsoppJ. and B. Stalker. 2004. “Identity Work in the Transition from Manager to Management Academic.” Management Decision 42 (3/4): 418-429. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740410518903.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BooysenL. 2007. “Barriers to Employment Equity Implementation and Retention of Blacks in Management in South Africa.” South African Journal of Labour Relations 31 (1): 47-71.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BrettellC. B. and F. Nibbs. 2009. “Lived Hybridity: Second-Generation Identity Construction through College Festival.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 16:678-699. https://doi.org/10.1080/10702890903307142.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carrim N. M. H. 2012. ‘ “Who am I?”-South African Indian women managers’ struggle for identity: escaping the ubiquitous cage.” PhD dissertation. University of Pretoria: Pretoria.

  • CharmazK. 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory. A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage.

  • CieslikA. and M. Verkuyten. 2006. “National, Ethnic and Religious Identities: Hybridity and the Case of the Polish Tatars.” National Identities 8 (2): 77-93. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14608940600703650.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ClarkT. and G. Salaman. 1998. “Telling Tales: Management Gurus’ Narratives and the Construction of Managerial Identity.” Journal of Management Studies 35 (2): 137-161. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6486.00088.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CoxT. Jr.1990. “Problems with Research by Organizational Scholars on Issues of Race and Ethnicity.” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 26 (1): 5-23. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F002188639002600103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DanielJ.A. Habib and R. Southall. 2003. State of the Nation. South Africa 2003-2004. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

  • Darling-WolfF. 2008. “Disturbingly Hybrid or Distressingly Patriarchal? Gender Hybridity in a Global Environment.” In Hybrid Identities. Theoretical and Empirical Examinations edited by K. I. Smith and P. Leavy63-91. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das D. 2007. “Globalization and the Theatre of Work: Exploring Identity Dynamics in Indian International Call Centers.” PhD thesis Graduate School of Syracuse University Syracuse.

  • DennisM. R. and A. Kunkel. 2004. “Perceptions of men, women, and CEOs: The effects of gender identity.” Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal 32 (2): 155-171.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EarlyP. C. and E. Mosakowski. 2000. “Creating Hybrid Team Cultures: An Empirical Test of Transnational Team Functioning.” Academy of Management Journal 43 (1): 26-49. https://doi.org/10.2307/1556384.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EasthopeH. 2009. “Fixed Identities in a Mobile World? The Relationship between Mobility, Place and Identity.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 16 (1): 61-82. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10702890802605810.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EssersC. and Y. Benschop. 2009. “Muslim Businesswomen Doing Boundary Work: The Negotiation of Islam, Gender and Ethnicity within Entrepreneurial Contexts.” Human Relations 62 (3): 403-423. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726708101042.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EzzelM. B. 2009. “’Barbie Dolls’ on the Pitch: Identity Work, Defensive Othering, and Inequality in Women’s Rugby.” Social Problems 56 (1): 111-131. https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2009.56.1.111.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FearfullA. and N. Kamenou. 2006. “How do You Account for It? A Critical Exploration of Career Opportunities for and Experiences of Ethnic Minority Women.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting 17 (7): 883-901. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpa.2005.08.006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FitzgeraldS. A. 2007. “Hybrid Identities in Canada’s Red River Colony.” The Canadian Geographer 51 (2): 186-201. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0064.2007.00173.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FordJ. 2006. “Discourses of Leadership: Gender, Identity and Contradiction in a UK Public Sector Organization.” Leadership 2 (1): 77-99. https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715006060654.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FriedmanJ. 1999. “The Hybridization of the Roots and the Abhorrence of the Bush.” In Spaces of Culture: City–Nation–World edited by M. Featherstone and S. Lash230-250. London: Sage.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GiscombeK. and M. C. Mattis. 2002. “Leveling the Playing Field for Women of Color in Corporate Management: Is the Business Case Enough?” Journal of Business Ethics 37 (1): 103-119. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014786313354.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GreeffA. and P. Nel. 2003. “Employment Transformation Enhancement in South Africa: Establishing a Job-Sharing Model to Promote Employment Equity.” South African Journal of Labour Relations (Winter): 23-62.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HelmsJ. 1990. “A Model of White Racial Identity Development.” In Black and White Racial Identity: Theory Research and Practice edited by J. Helms49-66. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HoggM. A.D. J. Terry. and K. M. White. 1995. “A Tale of Two Theories: A Critical Comparison of Identity Theory with Social Identity Theory.” Social Psychology Quarterly 58 (4): 255-269.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ibarra H. 2005. Identity Transitions: Possible Selves Liminality and the Dynamics of Career Change. Faculty and Research Working Paper no. 51/OB INSEAD France.

  • IbarraH. and R. Barbulescu. 2010. “Identity as Narrative: Prevalence, Effectiveness, and Consequences of Narrative Identity Work in Macro Work Role Transitions.” Academy of Management Review 35 (1): 135-154. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2010.45577925.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IbarraH. and J. L. Petriglieri. 2010. “Identity Work and Play.” Journal of Organizational Change Management 23 (1): 10-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811011017180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JenkinsR. 1996. Social Identity. London, UK: Routledge.

  • KärremanD. and M. Alvesson. 2004. “Cages in Tandem: Management Control, Social Identity, and Identification in a Knowledge-Intensive Firm.” Organization 11 (1): 149-175. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350508404039662.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KreinerG.E. Hollensbe and M. Sheep. 2006. “Where is the ‘Me’ among the ‘We’? Identity Work and the Search for Optimal Balance.” Academy of Management Journal 49 (5): 1031-1057. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2006.22798186.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LadgeJ. J.J. A. Clair and D. Greenberg. 2012. “Cross-Domain Identity Transition during Liminal Periods: Constructing Multiple Selves as Professional and Mother during Pregnancy.” Academy of Management Journal 55 (6): 1449-1471. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.0538.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luk-FongP. Y. Y. 2010. “Towards a Hybrid Conceptualisation of Chinese Women Primary School Teachers’ Changing Femininities – A Case Study of Hong Kong.” Gender and Education 22 (1): 73-86. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540250802581834.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mathur-HelmB. 2004. “Women in Management in South Africa.” In Women in Management Worldwide edited by M. J. Davidson and R. J. Burke329-342. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mathur-HelmB. 2005. “Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action for South African Women: A Benefit or Barrier?” Women in Management Review 20 (1): 56-71. http://doi.org/10.1108/09649420510579577.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKinleyE. 2008. “From Object to Subject: Hybrid Identities of Indigenous Women in Science.” Cultural Studies of Science Education 3 (4): 959-975. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-008-9128-7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MehrotraM. and T. M. Calasanti. 2010. “The Family as a Site for Gendered Ethnic Identity Work among Asian Indian Immigrants.” Journal of Family Issues 31 (6): 778-807. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X09357557.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merriam-Webster. n.d. s.v. “hybrid (n)”. Accessed 09 28 2017. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hybrid.

  • MirS. 2009. “Not Too ‘College‐Like’, Not Too Normal: American Muslim Undergraduate Women’s Gendered Discourses.” Anthropology and Education Quarterly 40 (3): 237-256. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1492.2009.01043.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MoosaN. 2004. Unveiling the Mind: A Herstory of the Historical Evolution of the Legal Position of Women in Islam. Cape Town: Mills Litho.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NaidooV. and M. Kongolo. 2004. “Has Affirmative Action Reached South African Women?” Journal of International Women’s Studies 6 (1): 124-136.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PieterseJ. N. 2001. “Hybridity, So What? The Anti-Hybridity Backlash and the Riddles of Recognition.” Theory Culture and Society 18 (2-3): 219-245.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RamsayE. 2007. “Between Non-Racialism and Multiculturalism: Indian Identity and Nation Building in South Africa.” Economische en Sociale Geografie 98 (4): 468-481. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9663.2007.00415.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RitchieJ. and J. Lewis. 2003. Qualitative Research Practice. A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. London: Sage.

  • SirinS. R. and S. Fine. 2008. Muslim American Youth: Understanding Hyphenated Identities through Multiple Methods. New York, NY: New York University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • South Africa. 1998. Employment Equity Act, No 55 of 1998. Accessed March 1 2016. www.hpcsa.co.za/hpcsa/…/EMPLOYMENT%20EQUITY%20ACT.pdf.

    • Export Citation
  • StokerJ. I.M. van der Velde and J. Lammers. 2012. “Factors Relating to Managerial Stereotypes: The Role of Gender of the Employee and the Manager and Management Gender Ratio.” Journal of Business Psychology 27 (1): 31-42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-011-9210-0.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StraussA. L. and J. Corbin. 1998. Basics of Qualitative Research. Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SturdyA.M. BrocklehurstD. Winstanley and M. Littlejohns. 2006. “Management as a (Self) Confidence Trick: Management Ideas, Education and Identity Work.” Organization 13 (6): 841-860. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508406068501.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SveningssonS. and M. Alvesson. 2003. “Managing Managerial Identities: Organizational Fragmentation, Discourse and Identity Struggle.” Human Relations 56 (10): 1163-1193. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/00187267035610001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TajfelH. 1972. “La cate´gorization sociale.” In Introduction a` la Psychologie sociale edited by S. Moscovici272-302. Paris: Larousse.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Laer K. and M. Janssens. 2008. “The Workplace Experiences of Second-Generation Minority Professionals: Upsetting Practices and Hybrid Identity Work.” In Proceedings of the Critical Management Studies Research Workshop on Stream: Critical Gender and Diversity Issues in Management and Organization Theory edited by [insert the initial and surname of the editor]. Anaheim CA August 7-8.

  • WatsonT. J. 2008. “Managing Identity: Identity Work, Personal Predicaments and Structural Circumstances.” Organization 15 (1): 121-143. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508407084488.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WatsonT. J. 2009. “Narrative, Life Story and Manager Identity: A Case Study in Autobiographical Identity Work.” Human Relations 62 (3): 425-452.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WickhamM. and M. Woods. 2005. “Reflecting on the Strategic Use of CAQDAS to Manage and Report on the Qualitative Research Report.” The Qualitative Report 10 (4): 687-702.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 261 225 26
Full Text Views 126 119 1
PDF Downloads 16 14 0