Sub-theme 78: Time to Create Queer Spaces: Queering Organization Studies -> HYBRID sub-theme!

Jannick Friis Christensen
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Lea Katharina Reiss
WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
Alison Pullen
Macquarie University, Australia

Call for Papers

Time and time again violent attacks on LGBTI+ people and laws to limit their rights abound (Lempinen, 2022). In many countries queer repression and criminalization remains an everyday reality, in some cases enforced with the death penalty (Price, 2022). International right-wing leaders, such as Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán, preach hostility to LGBTI+ communities as a central tenet of their politics (Reuters, 2022; Walkers, 2021). In more liberal countries, queer communities face severe backlash. Emmanouel Macron speaks of ‘gender ideology’ and mobilizes against transgender people, whose rights are perceived as a threat to cisgender people (Sage, 2021). Several U.S. states seek to ban school discussion and books that feature ‘LGBTI+ issues’ (Gabbat, 2022), often alongside banning books on critical race theory. These incidents are flashpoints in a historic political and legal anti-LGBTI+ fight with measures seeking to limit the rights of this group, even after their visibility has advanced (Kindy, 2022). One motive of such backlash is “to return society to a time when homosexuality was viewed as a sin, if not a crime, and heterosexuality was upheld as the norm for everyone in society” (Encarnación, 2020, p. 1). To counter these developments, this sub-theme resists creeping back in time by celebrating queer approaches to organization studies, including queer theories, politics and lives.
Queer theory has been an important avenue for questioning what is ‘normal’ and normative in/on/for organizations (Halperin, 1995; Warner, 1999) and troubling heteronormative aspects of everyday life (Taylor & Addison, 2013). Defining queer becomes problematic because for something or someone to be queer is to resist, or at least challenge, the process of categorisation and meaning propositions that a definition relies upon (Christensen, 2021). Phenomenologically, queer can be understood to create disorientation in organizational spaces, providing a new angle to what is given or taken for granted (Ahmed, 2006). Queer research in and of organization(s) has received attention across journal special issues (Pullen et al., 2016) and books (Rumens, 2017), and has been informed by community and activist projects. Queer theory has been used as a conceptual resource for studying minority homo/bisexual and/or trans people workplace experiences, often focusing on how heteronormativity shapes the constitution of sexualities and genders (Rumens et al., 2019).

In addition, some queer research concerns itself less with queer individuals, groups, and communities and engages in queering as a critical ‘attitude of unceasing disruptiveness’ (Parker, 2002: 148, 2016). This is an important development, to the extent that the (activist) act of queering is based on theorizing from – and with – queer subjects and subjectivities. However, queer as a concept can get detached from the queer phenomena from which it originated and takes its meaning. In such cases the mainstream preoccupation with queering comes at the expense of the critical edge and emancipatory potential promised for queer people by queer theory (Christensen et al., forthcoming).
To bring back queer to the heart of queering organization studies, this sub-theme embraces the double meaning of queer organizing as an object of study and as an analytical strategy. This way we encourage the study of embodied, lived, particular experiences of queer people and communities in (partially) organized spaces and queer(ing) used as an approach for thinking critically about cis-hetero normative organizational theorizing and practice. Halberstam (2005) argues that queer ‘uses of time and space develop, at least in part, in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality and reproduction’ - supposedly ‘happy objects’ (Ahmed, 2011) that we learn to strive for to lead a, supposedly, happy life (Guschke et al., 2022), and which in queer terminology are frequently referred to as homonormativity, cis-heteronormativity, and repronormativity. Such normativity not only imposes certain assumptions; it also produces and maintains idealized expectations against which queer bodies become just that: queer, why queers historically have organized and continue to organize alternative safe(r) and brave(r) spaces for identification (The Roestone Collective, 2014) where one is both more free from homo-, bi-, and transphobia and, at the same time, more free to be themselves, expressing their sexual and gender identities with less fears of risk, danger, harm, controversy, or other difficulties (Ladwig, 2022).
This sub-theme invites queer empirical, methodological and conceptual multidisciplinary contributions. Submissions may address the following areas of interest (but are not limited to):

  • Queer and LGBTI+ subject positions, subjectivities & bodies in organizational spaces

  • Queer(ing) approaches to space & time

  • Organizing through queer solidarity & affects

  • The organization of queer communities, Pride, & activism

  • Leading organized queer resistance, queer & queering leadership

  • Reflections on queering queer, genders, sexualities, work & organizational life

To facilitate wide ranging discussions at the crossroads of queer(ing) and organization(s), organizing, and the organized, we invite conventional papers and encourage creative and artistic formats as well. Please state in your submission your preferred method of presentation. We encourage people to attend in person but will plan hybrid sessions to include those who are not able to travel.


  • Ahmed, S. (2006). Queer Phenomenology. Duke University Press.
  • Ahmed, S. (2011). Willful parts: Problem characters or the problem of character. New literary history, 42(2), 231-253.
  • Cheng, P. S. (2014). Contributions from queer theory. The Oxford handbook of theology, sexuality, and gender, 153-169.
  • Christensen, J. F. (2021). Weird Ways of Normalizing: Queering Diversity Research Through Norm Critique. In Just, S. N., Risberg, A., & Villesèche, F. (eds.) Routledge Companion to Organizational Diversity Research Methods, 59-72. London: Routledge.
  • Christensen, J. F., Reiss, L. K., & Andrighetto, G. (forthcoming). Queer(ing). In Mills, J. H., Mills, A. J., Williams, K. S., & Bendl, R. (eds.) Elgar. Encyclopedia of Gender and Management. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Encarnación, O. G. (2020). The gay rights backlash: Contrasting views from the United States and Latin America. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 22(4), 654–665.
  • Gabbatt, A. (2022, April 07). ‘Unparalleled in intensity’ – 1,500 book bans in US school districts. The Guardian.
  • Halberstam, J. J. (2005). In a queer time and place: Transgender bodies, subcultural lives. NYU Press.
  • Halperin D. (1995) Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography. Oxford University Press.
  • Kindy, K. (2022, March 25). GOP lawmakers push historic wave of bills targeting rights of LGBTQ teens, children and their families. Washington Post.
  • Ladwig, R. C. (2021). Proposing the safe and brave space for organisational environment: including trans* and gender diverse employees in institutional gender diversification. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 37(6), 751-762.
  • Lampinen, E. (2022, May 2). Attack on LGBTQ+ rights: The politics and psychology of a backlash. Berkeley News.
  • Parker, M. (2002). Queering management and organization. Gender, Work & Organization, 9(2), 146-166.
  • Parker, M. (2016). Queering queer. Gender, Work and  Organization, 23(1), 71-73.
  • Price, C. (2022, November 29). Map of Countries that Criminalise LGBT People. Human Dignity Trust.
  • Pullen, A., Thanem, T., Tyler, M., & Wallenberg, L. (2016). Sexual politics, organizational practices: Interrogating queer theory, work and organization. Gender, Work and Organization, 23(1), 1-6.
  • Reuters (2022, October 27). Russia to ban sharing LGBT 'propaganda' with adults as well as children. BBC News.
  • Roestone Collective. (2014). Safe space: Towards a reconceptualization. Antipode, 46(5), 1346-1365.
  • Rumens, N. (2017). Queer business: Queering organization sexualities. Routledge.
  • Rumens, N., De Souza, E. M., & Brewis, J. (2019). Queering queer theory in management and organization studies: Notes toward queering heterosexuality. Organization Studies, 40(4), 593-612.
  • Sage, A. (2021, July 01). Woke leftists are ruining France, claims Emmanuel Macron. The Times.
  • Taylor, Y., & Addison, M. (2013) Queer Presences and Absences. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Warner, M. (1999) The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. The Free Press.
  • Walkers, S. (2021, July 21). Hungary’s Viktor Orbán will hold referendum on anti-LGBT law. The Guardian.
Jannick Friis Christensen is a post-doctoral researcher at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Focusing on norm-critical approaches to organizing and researching diversity, Jannick has in recent years studied LGBT+ workplace inclusion from queer perspectives in collaboration with Danish labor unions. A current project, financed by The Independent Research Fund Denmark, investigates the civil-religious public ritual of Pride and its wider socially integrative potential through corporate collaboration, taking a particular interest in critiques of pinkwashing and the organizational learning of partners and sponsors from LGBT+ employee resource groups in the context of ‘woke capitalism’. Serving also in the role as course coordinator on the CBS HRM master’s program, Jannick both teaches and supervises the next generation of human resource management professionals.
Lea Katharina Reiss is a queer feminist post-doctoral researcher at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Management and Organizational Behavior at WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. Her research revolves around how social inequalities unfold in working lives and organizational settings. In her dissertation, Lea took an intersectional approach to investigate the role of gender and social class origin in biographies and careers. In addition, she has been working on multiple research projects that examine inequality and discrimination with a focus on the role of agency and collective solidarity in the context of work and society. In her most recent projects, Lea investigates phenomena related to feminist organizing, queer activism, embodied vulnerability, and collective forms of resistance.
Alison Pullen is the first Professor of Gender, Work and Organization at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her research has been concerned with analyzing and intervening in the politics of work as it concerns gender discrimination, identity and embodiment, and organizational injustice. While pursuing this agenda, Alison has contributed to leading journals in the fields of organization theory, gender studies, and management studies. Her last book is “Corporeal Ethics” (2022, with Carl Rhodes).