Jim Barry, Mike Dent and Maggie O'Neill
The purpose of this collection is twofold. First, to consider various aspects of gender and professional identities in the face of managerial change within the field of welfare provision and social policy. Second, to explore their inter-relationships in the governance of public sector organisations. A new public sector managerialism, it has been argued, has had an impact across many parts of the world in recent years (e.g. Hood 1991, 1995), especially in Britain (Clarke and Newman 1997), where England is situated and a number of the authors locate their study. The contributors discuss the impact and implications, particularly in relation to gender, drawing on the disciplines of sociology and social policy from a variety of perspectives and approaches.
England, along with other northern European countries, including Sweden, has been in the forefront of what Hood et al. (1999:189-90; see also Osborne 1999) have called a 'managerial reform movement' in the public sector, more commonly referred to as a 'new' public management or NPM (e.g. Hood 1991; Pollitt 1993). Australia and the Pacific rim have also come under its sway as its influence has spread (Pollitt 2001; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). Yet the literature has only recently begun to consider the impact of the NPM (e.g. Exworthy and Halford 1999). And there has been little examination, beyond the volume by Itzin and Newman, which appeared back in 1995, of the implications of the 'new' managerialism for the study of gender and professionalism across different public sector sites.
Instead, texts have tended to consider gender and organisations more broadly, seeking to contribute to what is becoming a burgeoning literature on women - and latterly men - in management (Gherardi 1995; Collinson and Hearn 1996a; Alvesson and Due Billing 1997). Texts such as these reflect the influence of conventional wisdom (Gilligan 1982), which recounts differences in managerial style between women and men in both the private (e.g. Rosener 1990) and public sectors (e.g. White 1995), or the significance of context in helping to shape behaviour (e.g. Wajcman 1998). More recently power, as a complex, multidimensional phenomenon, has been reintroduced into gender and organisation discourses (Halford and Leonard 2001). Power is also central to Hearn and Parkin's work (1987; 1993). They have recently examined oppression, violence and bullying in organisations, which is structured and practised through 'unspoken forces'.