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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores fictional portrayals of managers in popular culture and considers the different ways that they shape our understanding of the identities of managers. Focusing on films and novels, the chapter begins by exploring the fundamental nature of the claim that well-known fiction has a capacity to shape and influence the world, albeit indirectly, and in unobtrusive, relatively unnoticed ways. The chapter builds upon established traditions of literary-orientated work in organization studies to show how fiction can transmit ideals, identity models, and patterns for sensemaking about organizations. However, the chapter also represents a fresh direction for research, focusing on the tensions and continuities across a wide range of contrasting fictional portrayals of manager-like figures. The chapter explores ‘positive’, ‘negative’, and ‘tragic’ portrayals of managers in fictional works to consider how they might help shape who we think of when we consider a ‘manager’ in contemporary society. In doing so, the authors encourage a wider consideration of the cultural content and context of managerial identity work and the ways that it can be imagined and understood.

Keywords: identity, manager, fiction, popular culture, novels, films

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