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Gender and Organizational Social Change Models
The increasing number of women in managerial positions represents a social change. Women are in these positions, and must earn their way to be accepted by both males and females. There are other changes within organizational styles that may be impacted by the entrance of more female managers into the workplace. For instance, the older authoritarian styles of the early part of the century are slowly being replaced by a more "team" approach (McGuire and Hutchings, 2006). These cultural changes within organizations represent a switch to an organizational culture that is more oriented towards the female managerial style. Male managers may need to soften their approach in order to make the transition to a "team oriented" organization.
The differences in the way in which males and females approach problems is an accepted paradigm in psychology. Historically, women have had difficulty adjusting to the male authoritarian style of management. As the woman was typically the one to change, this tended to select for the authoritarian style of management. The goal of organizational change is to accommodate the change in a manner that causes as little conflict as possible. As organizations change from a decidedly "male" style to a more feminine style, managers and employees alike will have to adjust to new ideas about gender and managerial issues.
Current theory on organizational change does not address the issue of gender. The context of the change dictates the relationship between individual differences and the change process (Walker, Armenakis, and Bernerth, 2007). Individual differences mediated the differences in the commitment to make the change work (Walker, Armenakis, and Bernerth, 2007). In addition, negative change experiences can have an impact on the willingness to cooperate in future change activities (Walker, Armenakis, and Bernerth, 2007). Organizational change means learning to unlearn past habits and attitudes (Akgun, et al., 2007). The new organization not only has to learn new behaviors, they must also break old patterns and habits. Some of these changes can be on a fundamental level, which can create a stressful situation.
A group of women can accomplish a task, even in the absence of a clearly defined leader (Rippin, 2007). The top-down approach to change management is masculine approach where changes are dictated to underlings. Male bank managers were unable to form teams for a common goal in absence of an official control structure. They finally resorted to a hierarchical structure in order to accomplish the task (Sallyanne, 2005). This style has been associated with more discord that a wholistic approach to change (Diefenbach, 2007). The organizational change model relies on power, leadership, rewards, and discipline, as well as role norms and values as the key drivers to facilitate change (McGuire and Hutchings, 2006).
There is a significant body of evidence that suggests that change management should be approached from a gendered perspective and that differences in managerial styles between men and women need to be considered to make a successful transition (Linstead, Brewis, and Linstead, 2005). In an examination of the conflict-filled change of Marks and Spencer, violent, "hyper-masculine" behavior was at the heart of the conflict and created a destructive, rather than productive environment (Rippin, 2005). Regardless of the outcome, gender differences in managerial style are an important component to the success of the change process.
Current organizational change models are dependent upon a decidedly masculine approach, from a managerial approach. The purpose of this study was not to determine which management style was better. Both masculine and feminine styles have their place within certain organizations. However, as we become more aware of how gender differences affect change management, it becomes apparent that this concept needs to become a conscious part of the process.
Past, Present and Future of the Issue
In the past, gender differences in the corporate world were more clearly defined. The business world that we know today had its roots at the beginning of the industrial era. This was a decidedly male world. In the industrial era, women were minor players. They could be a part of the workforce, but not the management. This resulted in a decidedly masculine style of management as the only acceptable way to run a business. In the last part of this century, women began to assume a more important role in the management of businesses. It is estimated that approximately one out of four corporations have a female CEO (APA, 2006).
As women become more prominent in the corporate world, it has become apparent that they have a definitively different managerial style from men. One cannot determine which style is better. It appears that in some cases, both gender styles prevail. Gender differences in management style can be constructive or destructive. The situation dictates which style will be more effective, rather than the individual manager. Only in the past 2-3 years has the issue of gendered management become a topic of interest.
In the future, the idea of gendered management will become a more important issue in the area of change management. The most important outcome of this research will be the ability to characterize an organization and choose the correct management style for the organization. There is already an existing body of research regarding how to characterize organizational culture. The ability to characterize an organization as either a male or female oriented structure will provide valuable information about the success of a particular management style during the change process.
As our research revealed, mismatches in the organizational culture and new managerial style can result in disaster. Matching the managerial style to the organization will result in much smoother transitions and an increased chance for acceptance of the new organization. Matching the correct managerial style to the organization will result in a greater chance for success. The concept of gendered managerial styles will become a more important aspect of the change process in the future.
Solutions and Recommendations
The idea of gendered management is relatively new. However, it is not a surprising addition to the growing body of knowledge regarding organizational culture and change. The more one knows about the organization and the managerial type, the better one can anticipate how the change will affect the organization. This will lead to better management of the conflicts that arise. Research needs to be undertaken in this area to learn more about masculine and feminine styles of management and how they affect the organization.
Currently, the ideals of masculinity and femininity are dualistic and clearly defined. However, this approach does not reflect reality. Eveline (2005) suggested that the clearly defined ideals of masculine managerial style and feminine managerial style need to be redefined. She suggested referring to masculine and feminine managerial styles as a verb. This philosophy is more in line with the research discovered during our exploration of gender roles in change management. Masculine and feminine are a way of doing things, rather than static traits.
Using masculine and feminine as descriptor conveys as sense of unchangeability. This research suggests that if men and women are attuned to how their managerial style affects the organization, they can make a conscious effort to change their behavior and take on attributes that are beneficial to the organization. This supports Eveline's idea of using masculine and feminine as a verb when referring to managerial styles.
Knowing whether a team would benefit from a masculine or feminine approach, and then supplying that managerial model could mean the ability between leading and managing. This is a new way of thinking about gender differences in managerial style. This research suggests that the concept of masculinity and femininity are fluid and that the astute manager, regardless of whether they are male or female, can benefit from being able to transition between the two styles. The manager that could master the ability to do this will be able to analyze their team and give them what they need for success.
It is clear that we have now grown beyond the concept of male and female delineating limits to achievement. Gender differences in managerial styles can be a valuable asset, when the concepts presented in this research are applied to the situation. This research adds another level of analysis that is necessary for facilitating successful organizational change. Our understanding of how gendered managerial styles affect the organization is in its infancy. However, as our knowledge base grows, this concept will grow into a specific set of actions and a form of analytical technique. This new piece of information will provide managers with the knowledge that they need to eliminate one potential source of conflict. This area of research will be an important part of the change process in the future.
Aaltio, L. And Huang, J. 2007. Women managers' careers in information technology in China: high flyers with emotional costs? Journal of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 20. Issue 2, pp. 227-244.
Akgun, a., Byrne, J., Lynn, G., and Keskin, H. 2007. Organizational unlearning as changes in beliefs and routines in…[continue]
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