Performing Butler’s Queer Theory in Organisation Studies: An Introduction


  • Davide Bizjak University of Naples Federico II



Performativity, queer theory, organizational identity


The contribution of queer theory in organization is still underdeveloped. Notwithstanding the presence of empirical studies that address queer issues in management, more methodological and theoretical elements are needed in organizational frameworks. This need is highlighted through a little review of the presence of queer theory in previous organizational research. A brief reflection on Butler’s tought is carried out through a conceptual framework that link organizational/individual identity to the performativity of gender. Through the concept of performativity, Judith Butler addresses the concept of a socially constructed identity into a continuous and iterative way to respect gender norms and expected actions.


Albert, S., Whetten, D. A. (1985) “Organizational identity”, In Research in organizational behavior, L.L. Cummings and B.M. Staw (eds), pp. 263-295, Vol. 7, Greenwich CT: JAI Press.
Alvesson, M., Ashcraft, K. L., Thomas, R. (2008) “Identity Matters: Reflections on the Construction of Identity Scholarship in Organization Studies”, Organization, 15 (1): 5-28.
Alvesson, M., Willmott, H., (2002) “Identity Regulation as Organizational Control: Producing the Appropriate Individual”, Journal of Management Studies, 39: 619–644.
Anteby, M., Anderson, C. (2014) “The Shifting Landscape of LGBT Organizational Research”, Research in Organizational Behavior, 34: 3-25.
Ashforth, B.E., Mael, F. (1989) “Social Identity Theory and the Organization”, Academy of Management Review, 14 (1): 20-39.
Bendl, R., Fleischmann, A., Walenta, C., (2008) “Diversity Management Discourse meets Queer Theory", Gender in Management: An International Journal, 23 (6): 382-394.
Borgerson, J. (2005) “Judith Butler: On Organizing Subjectivities”. In Contemporary Organization Theory, Jones, C. and Munro, R. (eds), pp. 63–79, Oxford: Blackwell.
Brown, A.D., Starkey, K. (2000) “Organizational Identity and Learning: A Psychodynamic Perspective”, Academy of Management, 25 (1): 102-120.
Butler, J. (1993) Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”, London: Routledge.
Butler, J. (1999) [1990] Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge.
Corley, K.G., Spencer, H. (2009) “Generative Organizational Identity Change: Approaching Organizational Authenticity as a Process”, In Exploring positive identities and organizations. Building a theoretical and research foundation, L.M. Roberts and J.E. Dutton (eds), pp. 361–384, London: Routledge.
Danowitz, M., Egger, E., Klarbach, H. (2012) Diversity in Organizations: Concept and Practices, London: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.
De Souza, E., Brewis, J., Rumens, N. (2016) “Gender, the Body and Organization Studies: Que(e)rying Empirical Research”, Gender, Work & Organization, 23 (6): 600-613.
Dentice, D., Dietert, M. (2015), “Liminal Spaces and Transgender Experience”, Theory in Action, 8 (2): 69-96.
Fine, L.E. (2016) “Judith Butler and Leadership: Reimagining intelligibility, social change, and leadership discourse”, Journal of Leadership Studies, 10 (2): 69-81.
Fiol, C.M., Huff, A.S. (1992) “Maps for Manager: Where are we? Where do we go from Here?”, Journal of Management Studies, 29 (3): 267-285.
Gagné, P., Tewksbury, R. (1998) “Conformity Pressures and Gender Resistance among Transgendered Individuals”, Social Problems, 45: 81-101.
Gioia, D.A., Schultz, M., Corley, K.G. (2000) “Organizational Identity, Image and Adaptive Instability”, Academy of Management Review, 25 (1): 63-82.
Harding, N. (2007) “On Lacan and the Becoming-ness' of Organizations/Selves”, Organization Studies, 28 (11): 1761-1773.
Hatch, M.J. (2013) Organization theory: Modern, symbolic and postmodern perspective, Oxford: OUP.
Herring, C., Henderson, L. (2012) “From Affirmative Action to Diversity: Toward a Critical Diversity Perspective”, Critical Sociology, 38 (5): 629-643.
Jenkins, J., Finneman, T. (2017) “Gender Trouble in the Workplace: Applying Judith Butler’s Theory of Performativity to News Organizations”, Feminist Media Studies, 1-16.
Kelan, E.K. (2010) “Gender Logic and (Un)Doing Gender at Work”, Gender, Work & Organization, 17 (2): 174-194.
Knights, D. (2015) “Binaries need to shatter or Bodies to matter: Do Disembodied Masculinities undermine Organizational Ethics?”, Organization, 22 (2): 200-216.
Laine, P.M., Meriläinen, S., Tienari, J., and Vaara, E. (2016) “Mastery, Submission, and Subversion: On the Performative Construction of Strategist Identity”, Organization, 23 (4): 505-524.
McLemore, Kevin A., (2015) “Experiences with Misgendering: Identity Misclassification of Transgender Spectrum Individuals”, Self and Identity, 14 (1): 51–74.
Nentwich, J.C., Ozbilgin, M.F., Tatli, A. (2015) “Change Agency as Performance and Embeddedness: Exploring the Possibilities and Limits of Butler and Bourdieu”, Culture and Organization, 21 (3): 235-250.
Poggio, B. (2006) “Editorial: Outline of a Theory of Gender Practices”, Gender, Work & Organization, 13 (3): 225-233.
Priola, V., Lasio, D., De Simone, S., and Serri, F. (2014) “The Sound of Silence. Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual and Transgender Discrimination in ‘Inclusive Organizations’”, British Journal of Management, 25 (3): 488-502.
Pullen A., Thanem T., Tyler M. (2016) “Sexual Politics, Organizational Practices: Interrogating Queer Theory, Work and Organization”, Gender, Work & Organization 23 (1): 1–6.
Rhodes, C. (2017) “Ethical Praxis and the Business Case for LGBT Diversity: Political Insights from Judith Butler and Emmanuel Levinas”, Gender, Work & Organization.
Salomon, M.F., Schork, J.M. (2003) “Turn Diversity to your Advantage”, Research-Technology
Management, 46 (1): 37-44.
Schilt, K., Connell, C. (2007) “Do Workplace Gender Transitions make Gender Trouble?”, Gender, Work & Organization, 14 (6): 596-618.
Schilt, K., Westbrook, L. (2009), “Doing Gender, Doing Heteronormativity. ‘Gender Normals’, Transgender People, and the Social Maintenance of Heterosexuality”, Gender & Society, 23 (4): 440-464.
Scott, S.G., Lane, V.R. (2000) “A Stakeholder Approach to Organizational Identity”, Academy of Management Review, 25 (1): 43-62.
Shore, L.M. Randel, A.E., Chung, B.G, Dean, M.A., Ehrhart, K.H., and Singh, G. (2011) “Inclusion and Diversity in Work Groups: A Review and Model for Future Research”, Journal of Management, 37 (4): 1262-1289.
Spicer, A., Alvesson, M., Kärreman, D. (2009) “Critical performativity: The Unfinished Business of Critical Management Studies” Human relations, 62 (4): 537-560.
Riach, K., Rumens, N., Tyler, M. (2016) “Towards a Butlerian Methodology: Undoing Organizational Performativity Through Anti-narrative Research”, Human Relations.
Rumens, N. (2016a) “Queering Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Identities in Human Resource Development and Management Education Contexts”, Management Learning.
Rumens N (2016b) “Towards queering the Business School: A Research Agenda for Advancing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Perspectives and Issues”, Gender, Work & Organization, 23 (1): 36-51.
Rundall, E., Vecchietti, V. (2010) “(In)Visibility in the Workplace. The Experience of Trans Employees in the UK”, In Transgender identities: Towards a social analysis of gender diversity, Hines, S., Sanger, T. (eds), pp. 127-150, Oxford: Routledge.
Tatli, A. (2010) “A Multi-layered Exploration of the Diversity Management Field: Diversity Discourses, Practices and Practitioners in the UK”, British Journal of Management, 22 (2): 238-253.
Thomas, K.M. (2008) ed., Diversity resitance in organization, New York: Taylor and Francis Group
Turner, V.W. (1969) The ritual process, Chicago: Aldline.
Van Gennep, A. (1960) The rites of passage, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ward, J., Winstanley, D. (2007) “Sexuality and the City: Exploring the Experience of Minority Sexual Identity Through Storytelling”, Culture and Organization, 10 (3): 219–236.
Wickert, C., Schaefer, S.M. (2015) “Towards a Progressive Understanding of Performativity in Critical Management Studies”, Human Relations, 68 (1), 107-130.




How to Cite

Bizjak, D. (2018). Performing Butler’s Queer Theory in Organisation Studies: An Introduction. PuntOorg International Journal, 2(2), 119–127.