Thinking through encounters: Postcolonial essays on difference and otherness in organization studies

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Arina Hall, auditorium TA105

Topic of the dissertation

Thinking through encounters: Postcolonial essays on difference and otherness in organization studies

Doctoral candidate

M.Sc. Economics and Business Administration Anna-Liisa Kaasila-Pakanen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Management and International Business

Subject of study

Management and Organizations

Opponent

Associate Professor Sheena Vachhani, University of Bristol

Custos

Professor Vesa Puhakka, University of Oulu

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Thinking through encounters: Postcolonial essays on difference and otherness in organization studies

Due to the recent global developments and social polarization, questions of otherness and difference have resurged in contemporary societies and work organizations. How do we understand and approach difference? Who do we tend to define as ‘others’? What do we see as constituting diversity? Anna-Liisa Kaasila-Pakanen’s doctoral study explores these questions and processes of othering to build grounds for more ethical and responsible engagement with difference to confront inequality between different groups of people and individuals in organizations and practices of research.

With a deconstructive emphasis and postcolonial feminist lens, the study consists of four semiautonomous research papers that explore different avenues in organizational analysis. The study suggests that while dominant patterns of othering fix difference to certain bodies –and therefore uphold dualistic and hierarchical social relations and barriers for belonging– the organizational work done in the name of diversity and inclusion remains ineffective and is not enough.

Therefore, Kaasila-Pakanen’s study suggests that a new way of thinking about difference is needed. As an outcome, the study reimagines difference as a dynamic relation of in-between as generated and constantly renegotiated in embodied, affective, and dialogical encounters with others. By perceiving encounters as domains in which difference is created helps us to engage with each other without adhering to the essentializing logic that represents others as already known. In this way, the study extends the critical organizational research on difference, diversity and inequalities.

With a new conceptualization of difference, the conclusions of the study provide novel perspectives for variety of organizational and societal actors to understand and address formation of inequalities and social marginalization.
Last updated: 4.1.2023