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“Sweat is weakness leaving the body”: an exploration of the corporeality of leadership
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
2013 (English)In: The 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies: 10 Jul 2013-12 Jul 2013: The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom: The University of Manchester Library, 2013, Manchester, UK: University of Manchester , 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study examines one athletic Swedish CEO’s body work. Through the management of the visible body image, regulating embodied experiences and emotion work, the CEO incorporates athleticism in his leadership philosophy, and infusing the body work in ‘healthy’ organizational culture. Adapting a symbolic interactionist embodiment notion, drawing on Goffman’s dramaturgical notion of self-presenting technique, this work anchors the analytical unit in the CEO’s reflexive, embodied self-making process, examines how the “front stage” self-image is being managed, controlled, maintained and modified through the ‘gaze of others’. Led by the idea of becoming the role model in all domains of others’ lives, through diligent bodily work, the leader instills the ideal of body perfection into managerialism. Firstly, the study argues that the body is simultaneously the expression of the power status and the demonstration of new aesthetics of leadership. The object and subject of body, “are emergent from one another”. With this, secondly, the study sheds light on the understanding about how individualized body work is a power laden and political process; it prepares and conducts the actor’s social self for his public actions. Thirdly, the corporeal aspect of leadership uncovers the forging of the dominant body norm in the organization. Through scrutinizing how the CEO defines the distinctions between ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’, ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, it is found that the CEO, with his body work, intends to create embodied organizational identity categories which may enact the power feature of inclusion and exclusion. The micro-level practices embedded in the normative social network relations attend to sustain uphold and even intensify the existing social injustices and inequalities. Hence, there is a risk that the body norm initiated by the corporate CEO may bring the rise to some ‘bodies’ and excludes the different others.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Manchester, UK: University of Manchester , 2013.
Keyword [en]
Re-connecting "big" and "small" issues, CMS between class and identity politics, athleticism, leadership
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95824ISBN: 978-0-9576682-0-1OAI: diva2:661705
The 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, Manchester, UK, July 10-12, 2013
Available from: 2013-11-04 Created: 2013-11-04 Last updated: 2014-03-06Bibliographically approved

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