Participant observation in gender and management research

Farooq Mughal, Valerie Stead, Caroline Gatrell

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter discusses the significance of using participant observations as a method for studying gender in the context of management education. It focuses on the situated nature of gender within a broader cultural context which needs further consideration when designing observational study methods. By using action learning (AL) sets as our focal point, we illustrate the constrained nature of participant observations and direct attention towards the interplay of subjective dimensions (e.g. positionality, identity and tendencies) of power unfolding between the observer and those being observed. In so doing, we highlight key features and the process of participant observations through our study of MBA students on an AL programme at three Pakistani business schools. Our study acts as a steppingstone for scholars in considering the challenges and ethical concerns of using participant observations as research method for studying gender.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research Methods on Gender and Management
EditorsValerie Stead, Carole Elliott, Sharon Mavin
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781788977920
ISBN (Print)9781788977920
Publication statusAcceptance date - 2021


  • participant observation
  • gender
  • management learning
  • positionality
  • identity
  • culture


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