Peer-reviewed publications

‘No decision is permanent!’: Achieving democratic revisability in alternative organizations through the affordances of new information and communication technologies

Genevieve Shanahan. (2022). Human Relations.

It seems natural to understand organizational democracy as granting members of the organization the right to choose the rules that govern their actions. But what meaning does a rule have if one can choose to change rather than follow it? By investigating the understudied dimension of democracy I call revisability, this paper suggests that an organization’s rules can be meaningful – they can effectively coordinate action – while remaining continually open to democratic modification. To support this claim, I present an activist ethnography of the Open Food Network, an alternative organization that builds open-source software for the decentralized coordination of short food chains, working in a democratic, non-hierarchical manner. Using the communicative constitution of organizations literature to conceptualize the requirements of democratic revisability and coordinating rules, I argue that this case demonstrates the possibility of achieving both ends simultaneously through the affordances of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). This paper thus contributes an account of the concept of democratic revisability, and a generalized model of one means by which democratically revisable and effective coordinating rules can be established and maintained with the support of ICT affordances.

Fair’s fair: psychological contracts and power in platform work

Genevieve Shanahan and Mark Smith. (2021). International Journal of Human Resource Management.

Platform work can be understood as a particularly acute instance of the individualization of economic risk. Responding to the broader trends of labour commodification and decline of the standard employment relationship, psychological contract theory emerged as a way to conceptualize fairness in individualized work arrangements. In this paper, we draw out the critical potential of psychological contract theory by mobilizing Lukes’ theory of power. We apply this lens to 12 semi-structured interviews with platform-mediated food delivery couriers, supplemented by both online and offline participant observation, to identify ways in which platform firms use decision-making, nondecision-making and ideological power to encourage the acceptance of platform work as fair: through the unilateral modification of exchange terms, through the nondecisions of communication and technology design, and through the ideological power of neoliberalism and tribalism. In so doing, we also identify coping strategies deployed by couriers in response to violations by platform firms of perceived exchange terms, variously resistant to and reinforcing of these forms of platform power. In this way, we uncover mechanisms by which firms present risk individualization as a fair exchange of worker security for worker autonomy, as well as more and less effective ways workers can resist this framing.

Individualism and Collectivism at Work in an Era of Deindustrialization: Work Narratives of Food Delivery Couriers in the Platform Economy

Paul Stewart, Genevieve Shanahan and Mark Smith. (2020). Frontiers in Sociology.

This study draws on qualitative interviews with gig workers in the food delivery sector, demonstrating workers’ multiple understandings of platform economy labour processes: as leisure, as economic opportunity, and as precarious labour. Moreover, while app-mediated platform work spatially separates workers, we also witnessed forms of collectivism among this population. Thus, the objective of the paper is to explore forms of actor individualism and collectivism amongst platform workers.

Tackling economic exclusion through social business models: a typology

Caroline Gauthier, Genevieve Shanahan, Thibault Daudigeos, Adelie Ranville and Pascal Dey. (2020). International Review of Applied Economics.

This article contributes to ongoing research on social business models by establishing a link with arguably one of the most salient global challenges we are confronted with today: economic exclusion. We conceive of economic exclusion broadly as a lack of access to salaried employment, finance, or essential goods and services. Addressing how and to what extent social business models can alleviate economic exclusion, we first review and synthesize various bodies of literature on grand challenges and social business models to unpack the constitutive factors of economic exclusion and the constraints social businesses face in their attempts to alleviate them. Based on these insights, and inspired by former works, we draw up a typology of 12 ideal-type social business models. In doing so, we illustrate how each model operates, based on the specific configuration of business model elements required to overcome the relevant barriers underpinning economic exclusion. The main contribution the paper makes is to advance a typology of ideal-type social business models covering the diverse constraints pertaining to economic exclusion. In concluding, we reflect on this contribution, its limitations and avenues for future research.

Book chapters

Rights-based Ethics

Genevieve Shanahan. (2023). SAGE Business Foundations.

­­In this chapter I define rights-based ethics, and discuss its origins, limitations, and active lines of research. I examine how the rights-based ethics approach can be applied in business and how it is used to address contemporary social problems. The chapter offers readers the opportunity to practice using the rights-based ethics framework in addressing workplace moral dilemmas, and raises questions regarding the role of business in society more broadly.

Is basic income feasible in Europe?

Genevieve Shanahan, Mark Smith and Priya Srinivasan. (2020). Empirical Research on an Unconditional Basic Income in Europe.

A basic income policy, whereby individuals receive unconditional, regular payments regardless of their income, wealth or economic activity, has been a long-held goal for many. Increasing discussions among a variety of stakeholders and evidence of concrete actions in many European states suggest its time may have come. Yet there is also resistance, and the feasibility of such a policy is subject to significant constraints, both in terms of implementation and achievement of desired outcomes. We use data on campaigns, political support and pilot studies from a variety of sources to assess the likely feasibility of a basic income policy in the European Union. The emerging pilots and other concrete actions suggest that there have been important, if fragile, steps forward. We suggest that while discussion and public statements of support are still a long way from a realisable basic income policy, the pressures for radical and innovative reforms of the welfare state mean that basic income will remain a relevant solution for elements of current and future labour market challenges.

Embodied spirituality: Negotiating, health, well-being and motherhood through the life history of a yoga teacher

Amanda Peticca-Harris, Kseniya Navazhylava and Genevieve Shanahan. (2020). Spirituality, Organisation and Neoliberalism: Understanding Subjectivities.

In this chapter, we unpack the embodied and economic precarity that envelops spiritual bodywork, such as yoga teaching, in neoliberal economies. Using a life history approach, we illustrate how Maria – a part-time yoga teacher and single mum of two – navigates acute experiences of embodiment (ill-health, childbearing and childrearing) and the economic precarity of supporting herself and her family. We theorize how the mobilization of spirituality through doing and teaching yoga represents a reprieve and health management tool, but also produces and reinforces neoliberal, postmaternal and postfeminist discourses. This ultimately results in the individualization of responsibility in terms of work, but also personal health and family demands.