Business School Deans, Identity Work and Loss
What losses do business school deans incur in the performance of their roles and how are these mitigated? We address this question through an analysis of deans’ discursive identity work, i.e. how they drew on and manoeuvred in relation to locally available discourses as they authored, edited, and evaluated their self-narratives in relation to ‘loss’. ‘Loss’ here refers to deans’ articulations of ‘ceasing to possess’ or being ‘deprived of’ some personally valued thing, state or attribute, most often (though not always) to their self-assessed detriment or disadvantage. Our study both draws on and contributes to the literatures on work identity, academic middle managers and identity loss. We make three key arguments: for deans, loss is an important discursive resource for identity work; the threats associated with loss are mitigated through talk about the joys of being a dean; and, there is a generic loss/assessment/mitigation narrative template that people use to deal adequately with loss which involves the identification of losses, their evaluation in relation to the self, and their management.