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Executive search as ethnosociality: A cross-cultural comparison
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Organization and management.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6587-5711
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, ISSN 1470-5958, E-ISSN 1741-2838, Vol. 16, no 2, 153-169 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we explore how executive search consultants in Austria, Finland and Sweden address ethnicity. Our findings suggest that while consultants working in these different sociocultural settings may attribute different meanings to ethnicity, they share a tendency to evade questions of ethnicity with regard to the search process. We specify three discursive practices that serve to eliminate questions of ethnicity from executive search: constructing whiteness as self-evident, constructing varieties of whiteness (articulating deficiency and lack for those not belonging to Us), and distancing responsibility for the current situation to clients and society. In view of these findings, we argue that executive search can be understood as an arena for ethnosociality that stops cultural diversity at the door of management suites and serves to undermine efforts to promote cross-cultural understanding in organizations. Our study indicates that sustaining whiteness as a privileged ethnicity takes multiple forms. While executive search consultants play an important role in these processes, it is suggested that they inherit a more fundamental problem in society and they have few opportunities to change the ethnic status quo at the top.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 16, no 2, 153-169 p.
Keyword [en]
Diversity, ethnicity, ethnosociality, executive search, management, whiteness
National Category
Ethnology Social Anthropology Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-197107DOI: 10.1177/1470595816660122ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84983784391OAI: diva2:1056029

QC 20161213

Available from: 2016-12-13 Created: 2016-11-30 Last updated: 2016-12-13Bibliographically approved

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