Modern Management Challenges

Managing Diversity

What Has Been Missing from the Big Picture Literature so Far: Gender and Innovations!

The humankind is fast approaching radically new phases in the development of economies, societies and also cultures. These global developments are essentially led by and formulated through the digitalisation of all activities, ranging from work to leisure, and the growing interconnections of digitalized production, consumption and organisations. Algorithmic design in work, machine learning and AI are already integrated with several kinds of human activities in many fields. Technology driven design and integrated value chains will create, destroy and take over many of those tasks we today take as granted and stable. Technology driven economy requires the corporations and organisations to become more flexible and agile, with abilities to immediately react to market changes through the network-like structures. In this development, the demands individuals increasingly experience relate to deceptive entrepreneur-like freedom on the one hand, and minutely digitalised supervision and control in their work and occupations on the other hand. Given this big picture, it is clear that management at all levels of organisations meets novel and complex challenges.

            But what is missing currently from this picture? Key influential authors canvassing the big picture, such as Susskind & Susskind (2015), Sundararajan (2016) and McAfee & Brynjolfsson (2017), write about the current economic, societal and cultural changes and future challenges with a broad techno-economic optimism. This optimism does not, however, take the humans as the center agency of the transformation, and even less so, discuss their gender positions. A total blindness to gendered dimensions of these wide-ranging developments and modern management challenges reigns. The key literature within the technology and AI driven innovations outlines a normative and ”neutral” rationality, which should, if followed, lead to a bright future in the most effective, fair and innovative way possible. However, the gender-blindness of this literature produces an incorrect and defective overall picture. Accordingly, such normative recommendations given for organising and managing the new digital economy with its related trends of development are flawed and one-sided.

            Our book Gender and Innovation in the New Economy: Women, Identity and Creative Work puts gender back into the big picture of current and future ‘new economy’. We provide a thorough and novel examination of the gendered nature of innovations, the driving force of the new economy. We explain how and in what ways the multidimensional ‘innovativeness’ is increasingly conceptualised as the motor of all progress. Our book takes up the gendered nature of innovations, their closeness to educational curriculum in universities, and tracks the contemporary shift from heavy industry to digital game industry and the ways these have altered the relationships between gender, corporate culture, management, creative work and the future of business. Understanding the importance of most often forgotten gendered aspects in innovation creation and future of value-creation is one of the key challenges in the modern management. This book is filling the void.

Seppo Poutanen is Senior Researcher and Docent of Sociology of the School of Economics at the University of Turku, Finland. His research interests include social epistemology, social theory, sociology of science, methodology of social sciences, and economic sociology. He is widely published in academic journals such as Social Epistemology, Critical Public Health, Journal of Critical Realism, Sociological Research Online, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship as well as in several edited volumes.

Anne Kovalainen is Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Turku, Finland. She has published numerous books and articles on entrepreneurship, gender, and social research methodology and has led national and international research projects with funding from EU, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Academy of Finland. She is on the editorial board of several journals including Research in the Sociology of Work, Academy of Management Perspectives, and International Small Business Journal.

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