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Understanding Ethnic Privilege and Power at Work, Organizations and Management

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Managerial Psychology

Special Guest Editors:
Dr Akram Al Ariss, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse Business School, France
Professor Mustafa Özbilgin, Brunel Business School, UK
Dr Ahu Tatli, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Dr Elaine Swan, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Professor Kurt April, University of Cape Town, South Africa

In social sciences, there is a growing field of cross disciplinary studies on unearned ethnic privilege, usually held by dominant ethnic groups. Origins of ethnic privilege scholarship can be traced back to black feminist scholars and critical race theorists such as Baldwin, Goldberg, Du Bois, Elson, hooks, Fanon and Morrison (Garner, 2006). Rather than focusing solely on ethnic minorities, we look for manuscripts which question taken-for-granted privileges invested in ethnicity at work and in societies. One such unearned privilege is whiteness in societies which is tarnished by colonialism and racism. Ethnic privilege and whiteness as a variant of it remains uncontested and under-researched in studies of work, organization and management (Grimes, 2001).

In this special issue, we seek to house manuscripts on ethnic privilege that shape relations, processes, contexts and outcomes of work. Ethnic privilege is of key relevance to our increasingly diverse societies that are characterized by a flow of international human resources across countries through migration and expatriation (Al Ariss, 2010; Al Ariss and Özbilgin, 2010; Bell, Kwesiga, & Berry, 2010; Carr, 2010). These ethnic privileges can be encountered in the management of people in the workplace, in the structuring of organizations and institutions, among other situations. Whiteness involves historical and contemporary processes of capitalism, colonialism, racism, politics all of which influence work, organization and management (Grimes, 2001).

Understanding ethnic privileges (i.e. whiteness) that are often unquestioned in the context of work, organization and management contributes to deconstructing many of the oppressions and discrimination that ethnic minorities face at work (Nkomo, 1992; Hunter, Grimes, and Swan, 2007; 2009). Therefore, the objective of this special issue is to stimulate an academic debate regarding whiteness in the management of people at work. This special issue will provide an intellectual space to review and extend on existing theories on ethnic privileges, therefore informing the research and practice in management, psychology and other allied fields. Therefore, this special issue opens up a critical debate on the meaning and outcomes of ethnic privileges such as whiteness by bringing a cross disciplinary understanding of ethnic mechanisms, practices, discourses, desires, and relations of power in work-related relations and processes.

We invite contributions which explore ethnic privileges in the context of work, organization and management from varied methodological and theoretical traditions, and across different international contexts and disparate fields (i.e. management, psychology, sociology, organization studies, among others). Potential submissions may seek to cross disciplinary boundaries, and have theoretical and practical implications, in order to develop new perspectives and insights into understanding power privileges held by ethnic majority in the management of people in organizations. Papers may conceptualize and investigate these privileges from micro-individual experiences or meso-organizational relations and processes (e.g. influence of workplaces on the dynamics of racialized relations).

The key themes and questions that could be explored may include the following among others:

  • What are the key issues that pertain to ethnic privileges (i.e. whiteness) in studies of work, organization and management across micro-individual, meso-organizational or/and macro-contextual levels?
  • How are historically and contemporary experiences of organization, work and professional identity shaped by ethnic privileges? What is the relation between whiteness and practices and processes in everyday life at work and in organizations?
  • What are the limits to the theoretical, methodological, and practical possibilities currently offered in critical race and whiteness studies in regards to work-related issues? What other forms might these possibilities for analysis and critique take in the context of management, psychology, sociology, among other allied fields?
  • How can we understand whiteness in organizations - as property, identity, discursive position, privilege, relations, embodied practices, emotions, imaginaries, temporalities? 
  • What codes of ethnic privileges are reproduced in contemporary organizations, and how do these codes configure work relations and human resource management with the past and future as well as the present? 
  • What new constituencies and claims can be brought into the study of employment relations and organizational practices and processes through concepts such as whiteness, white making, white spaces, white gendering and gendered whiteness? 
  • How do ethnic privileges in the workplace intersect with other forms of privilege and disadvantage that are rooted in social identity groups such as class, gender, age, sexualities, and migration?  
    What are the processes of whiteness that affect the nature, structure and conditions of work and human resource management within different national contexts?
    • What alternative (and additional) ethical commitments do whiteness studies bring to people, organizations, and human resource management?
    • What are the dangers in making whiteness an object of human resource management analysis given its power to attach itself to a range of political and social agendas including 'progressive' postures?
    • How can studying whiteness contribute to the development of critical analysis of human resource management on theoretical, methodological, practical, and policy grounds in a way to improve working lives?

The submission process for this special issue is open and competitive. Submitted papers will undergo the normal rigorous, double-blind review process to ensure relevance and quality. Papers will be evaluated based on their contributions to theory, research, and their implications for practice.  

The deadline for receipt of manuscripts is March 1st 2012. Please submit papers of 6000 words or less, not counting references, appendices, figures, and tables, in MS Word via ScholarOne Manuscripts at, ensuring that this special issue is selected in the submission process. Full information and guidance on using ScholarOne Manuscripts is available at the Emerald ScholarOne Manuscripts Support Centre:

Manuscripts are expected to follow the JMP submission guidelines outlined at

Al Ariss, A. (2010). Modes of Engagement: Migration, Self-Initiated Expatriation, and Career Development. Career Development International, 15(4): 338 - 358.
Al Ariss, A. and Özbilgin, M. (2010). Understanding Self-Initiated Expatriates: career experiences of Lebanese self-initiated expatriates Thunderbird International Business Review, 54(4), 275-285.
Bell, M. P., Kwesiga, E. N., & Berry, D. P. (2010). Immigrants: The new “invisible men and women” in diversity research. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(2) : 177-188.
Carr, S. (2010). Global mobility and local economy: It’s work psychology, stupid! In S. Carr (Ed.), The Psychology of Global Mobility (pp. 125-150). New York: Springer.
Garner, S. (2006). The uses of whiteness: What sociologists working on Europe can draw from US research on whiteness. Sociology, 40(2): 257-275.
Grimes, D. (2001). Putting our own House in Order: Whiteness, Change and Organization Studies. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 14(2): 132–49.
Hunter, S. Grimes, D. and Swan, E. (2007; 2009) Call for papers Conferences on White Spaces at Gender, Work And Organisation, Keele University and Sociology and Social Policy, Leeds University.  
Nkomo, S. M.  (1992). The emperor has no clothes:  Rewriting Race in the Study of Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 17(3): 487-513.