Organizational Culture and Masculinities in a Startup Company in Finland
Keywords:Work/Life Balance, Gender, Ethnicity, Age and Diversity, Identity, Meaning & Culture, Organization & Management
This article explores the organizational culture of the startup scene in Finland. Startup companies offer an interesting setting for research, because their organizational culture, hierarchy and power structures differ from those of large traditional organizations. The method used in this study was an organizational ethnography in a startup company in Finland, which included participant observation, and interviews with employees. The organizational culture of the startup was informal, relaxed, low in hierarchy, and employees had autonomy for deciding on their working times and locations. Masculinities were visible in the organizational culture of the startup company in the form of ‘harsh’ language and rambunctious humor, men changing their behavior and discussion topics when women were around, and managers communicating more aggressively with men than with women. The results further showed that gender was a criterion for inclusion and exclusion. The research concludes that startup companies are not gender-neutral spaces.
Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations, Gender & Society 4(2): 139-158. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/089124390004002002
Alvesson, M., & Billing, Y. D. (2009). Understanding gender and organizations. 2nd edition, Sage.
Alvesson, M., & Sveningsson, S. (2008). Organizational culture and change. Changing Organizational Culture: Cultural Change Work in Progress. Oxon: Routledge, 35-50.
Atomico (2018). State of European Tech. Atomico.
Azoulay, P., Jones, B., Kim, J. D., & Miranda, J. (2018). Age and high-growth entrepreneurship (No. w24489). National Bureau of Economic Research. doi: https://doi.org/10.3386/w24489
Baller, S., Dutta, S., & Lanvin, B. (2016). Global information technology report 2016, Geneva: Ouranos.
Bell, E. (1999). The negotiation of a working role in organizational ethnography, International Journal of Social Research Methodology 2:1, 17-37. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/136455799295168
Bird, S. R. (1996). Welcome to the men's club: Homosociality and the maintenance of hegemonic masculinity, Gender & Society 10(2): 120-132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F089124396010002002
Blank, S., & Dorf, B. (2012). The startup owner's manual: The step-by-step guide for building a great company. BookBaby.
Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity.
Collinson, D. L. (1988). 'Engineering humour': masculinity, joking and conflict in shop-floor relations, Organization Studies 9(2): 181-199. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F017084068800900203
Collinson, D., & Hearn, J. (1994). Naming men as men: Implications for work, organization and management, Gender, Work & Organization 1(1): 2-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0432.1994.tb00002.x
Cunliffe, A. L., & Karunanayake, G. (2013). Working within hyphen-spaces in ethnographic research: Implications for research identities and practice, Organizational Research Methods 16(3): 364-392. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428113489353
Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique, Psychological Bulletin 51(4): 327. doi: https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/h0061470
Flick, U. (2002). An introduction to qualitative research. 2nd ed., Thousand Oaks/London: Sage Publications.
Hearn, J. (2013). Methods and Methodologies in Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities. In B. Pini & B. Pease (Eds.) Men, Masculinities and Methodologies (pp. 26–38), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hewlett, S. A., Luce, C. B., Servon, L. J., Sherbin, L., Shiller, P., Sosnovich, E., & Sumberg, K. (2008). The Athena factor: Reversing the brain drain in science, engineering, and technology, Harvard Business Review Research Report 10094: 1-100.
Holgersson, C. (2013). Recruiting managing directors: Doing homosociality, Gender, Work & Organization 20(4): 454-466. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2012.00595.x
Hyrkäs, A. (2016). Startup Complexity: Tracing the Conceptual Shift Behind Disruptive Entrepreneurship. Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Karjalainen, M., Niemistö, C., & Hearn, J. (2017). “Pakko painaa pitkää päivää": työn ja muun elämän väliset hämärtyvät rajat tietotyössä (“Forced to do long days”: blurring the boundaries between work and life in knowledge work). In Työaikakirja. Into kustannus.
Kelan, E. K. (2018). Men doing and undoing gender at work: A review and research agenda, International Journal of Management Reviews 20(2): 544-558. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12146
King, N., Horrocks, C., & Brooks, J. (2018). Interviews in qualitative research, Sage.
Kinnunen, M., Lempiäinen, K., & Peteri, V. (2017). Konttorista monitilatoimistoksi: työn tilojen etnografinen analyysi (From an office to a multifunctional office: ethnographic analysis of office spaces). Sosiologia 54 (2017): 2.
Kotiranta, A., Pajarinen M., Rouvinen P. (2016) Miltä startupit näyttävät tilastojen valossa? (Characteristics of Finnish startups). ETLA Raportit No 6.
Kollmann, T., Stöckmann, C., Hensellek, S., & Kensbock, J. (2016). European startup monitor 2016. Universität Duisburg-Essen Lehrstuhl für E-Business.
Korczynski, M. (2011). The dialectical sense of humour: routine joking in a taylorized factory, Organization Studies 32(10): 1421-1439. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0170840611421256
Kähärä, E., Lehtoranta, T., Lehtovirta, R., Mäkinen, K., Piho, L., Rauramo, P., Somer, A. (2015). Preventing and handling inappropriate behavior in the workplace. The Centre for Occupational Safety. Savion Kirjapaino Oy. Retrieved from
Lahtinen, H., Pekkala H., Halme K., Salminen V., Härmälä V., Wiikeri, J., Lamminkoski, H., Lähde, K., Mikkelä, K., Rouvinen, P., Kotiranta, A., Pajarinen, M., Dalziel M., Barge, B., Meade C., Zhao X. (2016). Startup-yritysten kasvun ajurit ja pullonkaulat. (Growth factors and bottlenecks for business start-ups). Finnish Government 30/2016.
Lipman-Blumen, J. (1976). Toward a homosocial theory of sex roles: An explanation of the sex segregation of social institutions, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1(3, Part 2): 15-31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/493272
Lutgen-Sandvik, P. (2003). The communicative cycle of employee emotional abuse: Generation and regeneration of workplace mistreatment, Management Communication Quarterly 16(4): 471-501. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0893318903251627
Marlow, S., & McAdam, M. (2012). Analyzing the influence of gender upon high–technology venturing within the context of business incubation, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 36(4): 655-676. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fj.1540-6520.2010.00431.x
Martin, J. (1994). The organization of exclusion: Institutionalization of sex inequality, gendered faculty jobs and gendered knowledge in organizational theory and research, Organization 1(2): 401-431. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F135050849412011
Martin, P. Y. (2001). Mobilizing masculinities': women's experiences of men at work, Organization 8(4): 587-618. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F135050840184003
Martin, P. Y. (2003). “Said and done” versus “saying and doing” gendering practices, practicing gender at work, Gender & Society 17(3): 342-366. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0891243203017003002
Monahan, T., & Fisher, J. A. (2015). Strategies for obtaining access to secretive or guarded organizations, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 44(6): 709-736. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0891241614549834
Neuman, J. H., & Baron, R. A. (2005). Aggression in the Workplace: A Social-Psychological Perspective. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (p. 13–40). American Psychological Association. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/10893-001
Neyland, D. (2016). Challenges of Organizational Ethnography: reflecting on methodological insights. In F. Dykes and R. Flacking (Eds.) Ethnographic Research in Maternal and Child Health, (1 ed., pp. 179-198). London: Routledge.
Nowell, L. S. et al. (2017) ‘Thematic Analysis: Striving to Meet the Trustworthiness Criteria’, International Journal of Qualitative Methods. doi: 10.1177/1609406917733847.
Queirós, A., Faria, D., & Almeida, F. (2017). Strengths and limitations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. European Journal of Education Studies.
Ridgeway, C. L. (1997). Interaction and the conservation of gender inequality: Considering employment, American Sociological Review 218-235. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/2657301
Ries, E. (2017). The startup way: how modern companies use entrepreneurial management to transform culture and drive long-term growth. Currency.
Sanderson, K. (2017). Workplace ostracism: a critical discourse analysis of the lived experience.
Schein, E. H. (1983). The role of the founder in creating organizational culture, Organizational Dynamics 12(1): 13-28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/0090-2616(83)90023-2
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2), John Wiley & Sons.
Serrat, O. (2017). The critical incident technique. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 1077-1083). Springer, Singapore.
Stitt-Gohdes, W. L., Lambrecht, J. J., & Redmann, D. H. (2000). The critical incident technique in job behavior research. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Suryani, A. (2008). Comparing case study and ethnography as qualitative research approaches,
Ilmu Komunikasi 5(1): 117-127. doi: https://doi.org/10.24002/jik.v5i1.221
Sutton, S. M. (2000). The role of process in software start-up, IEEE Software 17(4): 33-39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1109/52.854066
Tallberg, T. (2009). The gendered social organisation of defence: Two ethnographic case studies in the Finnish defence forces. Svenska handelshögskolan.
Tripathi, N., Seppänen, P., Boominathan, G., Oivo, M., & Liukkunen, K. (2019). Insights into startup ecosystems through exploration of multi-vocal literature, Information and Software Technology 105: 56-77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2018.08.005
Wahl, A. (2014). Male managers challenging and reinforcing the male norm in management, NORA-Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 22(2): 131-146. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08038740.2013.864702
Watson, T. J. (2012). Making organisational ethnography, Journal of Organizational Ethnography. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/20466741211220615
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender, Gender & Society 1(2): 125-151. doi: 10.1177/0891243287001002002
Wynn, A. T., & Correll, S. J. (2018). Puncturing the pipeline: Do technology companies alienate women in recruiting sessions? Social Studies of Science 48(1): 149-164. doi: 10.1177/0306312718756766.
Young, I. M. (2003). The logic of masculinist protection: Reflections on the current security state, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29(1): 1-25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/375708
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Author and Journal
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The Copyright Holder of this Journal is the authors and the Journal. This Journal gives Open Access with CreativeCommons license CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0.
You can download all the content of the Journal and share it with others as long as you credit the authors and the journal, but you can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
More specifically this license means that you – authors and users – may:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form as long as you follow the license terms. The freedom to share includes parallel publishing on authors’ own website and in institutional repositories or in ResearchGate after publication in NJWLS, or if you want to reprint your article as part of publication of a PhD-thesis or a dissertation
You may share under these terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit and provide a link to the license. Appropriate credit implies that you provide the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the material. The link used should be its DOI.
NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes. A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.
NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material. Merely changing the format never creates a derivative.
Exceptions to the license terms may be granted
If you want to use content in the Journal in another way then described by this license, you must contact the licensor and ask for permission. Contact Bo Carstens at email@example.com. Exceptions are always given for specific purposes and specific content only.
The Journal is listed as a blue journal in Sherpa/Romeo, meaning that the author can archive post-print ((ie final draft post-refereeing) and author can archive publisher's version/PDF.
Copyright of others
Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere.
All published material is archived at Roskilde University Library, Denmark, and transmitted to the Danish Royal Library in conformity with the Danish rules of legal deposit.
We do not screen articles for plagiarism. It is the responsibility of the authors to make sure they do not plagiate.