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PhD Study Analyses Power of SA Women Business Leaders

April 23, 2015


A proud family - Dr Lisa Kinnear with her family.

“A Critical Analysis of the Emerging Models of Power Amongst South African Women Business Leaders” was the title of a thesis which earned Dr Lisa Kinnear a PhD in Human Resource Management (HRM) at a College of Law and Management Studies 2015 Graduation ceremony.

Kinnear’s research highlights the fact that despite efforts to create gender equality in organisations, transformation will not occur without fundamentally shifting perceptions of power to include these emerging models.

Kinnear is a well-known Organisational Development (OD) Practitioner with vast experience in the private and public sectors. Running her consultancy business, Leadership Insight, with her business partners keeps her abreast of the latest developments and trends in the field of Human Resource Management.

On what motivated her to tackle this topic she said: ‘Firstly, despite increases in the number of women managers at senior or executive level in organisations, this does not appear to have had an affect on the transformation of organisations or the empowerment of other women within organisations. This led me to question the way in which transformation efforts typically focus on the numbers of women in senior positions, but not on women leaders’ ability to shift the status quo.

‘Secondly, through my work I am privileged to coach many women leaders and am witness to their stories of grappling with their leadership identity within patriarchal environments. I wanted to understand and give voice to those grapples and uncover the alternative models that many women can and do bring to their leadership role which are valuable to organisations.’

Kinnear’s supportive family is pleased with her academic success. ‘My husband is thrilled for me but has asked that I never do it again! My 15-year-old son was the first to broadcast the news to everyone, so I think he is really proud. My 11-year-old daughter felt sorry for the person who had to read my 300 page thesis. She has acknowledged recently that I have been quite good at helping her with her study skills, probably because I have a PhD!’

Her journey was made manageable by the support of her supervisor, Dr Karen Ortlepp. ‘Karen was a phenomenal supervisor and is a wonderful colleague and friend. I have huge respect for her academic insight and integrity,’ said Kinnear. ‘We have worked extremely well together over the past 10 years in our consulting practice and I was very grateful to have a supervisor who understood the demands of all the roles I was juggling and gave me just enough encouragement and motivation to help me make progress without applying unnecessary pressure. I could not have completed this journey without her by my side.’

Kinnear said research work that is not shared with others has no real value hence she plans to publish the findings of her thesis and to contribute to the creation of new knowledge in the field of HRM through post-doctoral research.

‘I would like to continue transferring my observations from the applied world of my consulting work to the academic world where ideas can be challenged and the dominant management discourse can be critiqued. This is important if we want to create organisations which are sustainable beyond short term profit motives alone.’

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