An Outside-Inside Evolution in Gender and Professional Work

61 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2012  

Lakshmi Ramarajan

Harvard Business School

Kathleen McGinn

Harvard Business School - Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit

Deborah Kolb

Simmons College - Graduate School of Management

Date Written: November 30, 2012

Abstract

We study the process by which a professional service firm reshaped its activities and beliefs over nearly two decades as it adapted to shifts in the social discourse regarding gender and work. Analyzing archival data from the firm over eighteen years and representations of gender and work from the business press over the corresponding two decades, we find that the firm internalized the broader social discourse through iterated cycles of analysis and action, punctuated by evolving beliefs about gender and work. Outside experts and shifting social understandings played pivotal roles in changing beliefs and activities inside the firm. We conclude with an internalization model depicting organizational adaptation to evolving social institutions.

Keywords: Gender, professional service firms, social institutions, organizational learning

Suggested Citation

Ramarajan, Lakshmi and McGinn, Kathleen and Kolb, Deborah, An Outside-Inside Evolution in Gender and Professional Work (November 30, 2012). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 13-051; Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Unit Working Paper No. 13-051. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2184439 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2184439

Lakshmi Ramarajan

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Kathleen L. McGinn (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6901 (Phone)
617-496-7379 (Fax)

Deborah Kolb

Simmons College - Graduate School of Management ( email )

409 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-521-3871 (Phone)
617-521-3878 (Fax)

Paper statistics

Downloads
595
Rank
35,536
Abstract Views
1,767