Rosabeth Moss Kanter: Revolutionary roots and liberal spores

Deborah N. Brewis, Lara Pecis

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

116 Downloads (Pure)


Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a figure who looms large in organisation studies. Since her first major projects in the 1970s, Kanter’s ideas on leadership, change, and power generated important shifts in thinking within the field at the time of their writing, and – perhaps most importantly – propagated many developments of management and organisation research today. Her work is as expansive as it is rich in its theoretical and empirical contributions, ranging from communes to infrastructure; leadership to strategy. In this chapter we consider her contributions in two areas: by engaging with Men and Women of the Corporation (first published in 1977) and Change Masters: Innovations for Productivity in the American Corporation (first published in 1983), we show how Kanter’s early discussions on power, politics and exclusion represented important steps toward current discussions around inequalities at work, and to understanding employees’ empowerment for sustaining innovative organisations. Approaching Kanter’s work through “zoom in, zoom out” (Kanter, 2011), we synthesise and situate her ideas in relation to recent debates, arguing that they represented revolutionary shifts in thinking at the time of writing. Equally, we suggest that the works we examine feed into what might now be considered the liberal mainstream, and that scholars have, once more, seen the need for a critical shift in approaches to innovation and inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPower, Politics & Exclusion in Organization and Management
ISBN (Electronic)9780429279683
ISBN (Print)9780367233990
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Focus on Women Writers in Organization Studies


  • inequality
  • eqality
  • women
  • power
  • leadership
  • change management
  • innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Rosabeth Moss Kanter: Revolutionary roots and liberal spores'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this