Aesthetic labouring and the female entrepreneur: ‘Entrepreneurship that wouldn’t chip your nails’ Paper accepted in ISBJ

A few years ago I spotted a media article about Entrepreneur Barbie and was immediately hooked.  I somehow convinced (actually they didn’t take that much convincing) Kate Mackenzie Davey and Helen Cooper to become equally obsessed.  We’ve presented on this research along the way at different research seminars and the Gender Work and Organization conference, receiving lots of fantastic feedback along the way for which we are very grateful.  And we also won a ‘Research as Art’ prize, which was great fun!

Finally some of our research has made it into print via the following article to be published in International Small Business Journal.  Perhaps Mattel was right after all: ‘If you can dream it you can be it – anything is possible’.

Pritchard, K, Mackenzie Davey, K and Cooper, H (In press) Aesthetic labouring and the female entrepreneur: ‘Entrepreneurship that wouldn’t chip your nails’


Recognising significant interrelations between neoliberal and postfeminist discourses, we advance understandings of constructions of female entrepreneurs by unpacking their visual representation and exploring the role of aesthetic labour.  Given the impact of contemporary media, we focus on key images integral to the marketing of Mattel’s Entrepreneur Barbie as a postfeminist ‘cultural motif’ (Duffy et al., 2017: 262) and investigate how these representations of female entrepreneurship are consumed. First, we highlight the practical demands and emotional risks of the aesthetic labour required to achieve such postfeminist glamour.  Second, links between conventional femininity and entrepreneurial success are both celebrated and challenged, highlighting perceived limits to achievement.  Finally, we unpack understandings of the relations between entrepreneurialism and aesthetic labour to move beyond assumptions of the instrumental power of the makeover. Our findings thus, enrich understandings of the consumption of postfeminist images of entrepreneurs.


December 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment

Transitions to retirement: opportunities for qualitative research


Working with colleagues at Swansea University and beyond, I have been involved in work with the Centre for Ageing Better to conduct a review on research into the experience of transitions to retirement.

Dr Martin Hyde has outlined the main findings of our work, which was conducted multinational team comprising researchers from Swansea University (in addition to Martin and myself, Dr Cara Reed and Ms Maria Cheshire-Allen), the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (Prof Kene Henkens and Dr Marleen Damman) and the Stress Research Institute in Stockholm (Dr Loretta Platts).

Here I want to focus on the methodological issues and opportunities related to qualitative research in this field, which is summarised in an appendix to the report.

We found that not only that there fewer qualitative than quantitative studies, but we also found that these were more variable.  While there were examples of excellence, we also found cases where the methodological explanation in papers made it difficult to report with confidence on findings.  We found that while data collection methods were often described in some detail, there was much less information provided on analytic approaches.  Broad labels, such as template and thematic analysis, can indicate the overall style of approach but do not offer enough detail on the actual analytic process applied.  Lack of space for such detail in published papers is often raised as a concern by qualitative researchers and is likely to be a factor in this regard.

In the context of our review while small studies, particularly those that looked at specific occupational groups, raised interesting issues it was not always possible to position these clearly in relation to evidence from the the wider set of research publications.  What they did show however is that there are many interesting aspects of transitions to retirement that can (and even should) be explored via qualitative means.  It was clear that while research in this area has started to use interviews and focus group, there is a huge potential to build on this with studies deploying more diverse and contemporary approaches (for example, those utilising visual or multi-modal data).  It was also interesting to see some of the mixed methods studies reviewed using qualitative research more advanced ways than simply ‘backing up’ a survey study.  Overall then the report could be used as a useful springboard for qualitative researchers looking to identify research questions and approaches to further our understanding of this complex area.

As the report outlines, we used a specific set of search terms to generate the literature considered in our review.  As with any search strategy this means that some studies that may have considered aspects of relevance may not have been included.  We suspect this may have been more likely to be the case for qualitative research studies, since these often have more diverse titles and key words as they are less ‘variable’ driven in this regard.

After posting this blog, via Twitter, I was also reminded of the importance of funding in this debate.  As Debora Price rightly pointed out the difficulty of obtaining sufficient funding for in-depth qualitative research is without a doubt a critical issue for advancing research in this field.




December 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Outdoor Leadership Working Paper 1: Descriptive Statistics Report

In April and May 2018 myself and William Fear conducted a leadership survey with Mountain Leaders and related organizations and, through Facebook, with members of groups that walk in the mountains. We received 459 completed questionnaires. The purpose of the survey was to: 1) get an understanding of the ‘mountain/hill-walking’ community; and 2) to explore perceptions of leadership among both professional and lay groups in relation to ‘Mountain Leadership’.  Our questionnaire drew on concepts from both authentic and behavioural leadership theories.

We have now produced our first working paper which sets out our preliminary findings based on descriptive statistics.  Further detailed findings will be reported at a later date once our analysis is complete and subsequent qualitative research is planned.

Working Paper 1

September 14, 2018 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

My SURF Lunchtime Seminar tomorrow: Barbie, post-feminism, entrepreneurship and sandwiches

SURF Lunchtime Seminars – lunch is served from 12 noon and the seminar starts at 12.30. Seminars are aimed broadly to interest researchers from right across the university. Everyone is welcome – from undergrad to professor – come and network and get enthused! Please book via links – tickets are free, it just helps us get the right amount of lunch there!

12-2pm Thursday 24th May, GH022 Great Hall Bay Campus, How can Barbie be an entrepreneur? Katrina Pritchard Free ticket:

May 23, 2018 at 8:40 am Leave a comment

Swansea’s School of Management: Qualitative Research Event: 2/7/18

Qualitative Research Event: Summer Methods Madness

10-1, Monday 2nd July

Swansea University, SoM 102

If you are a qualitative researcher or interested in any aspect of qualitative research this is for you!  It doesn’t matter whether you are new to research or worn down after years of practice this is an informal event for us to chat, network and play with Lego (in the interests of research, of course).

Please email me ( to let me know if you would like to attend and if there are any specific topics you would like address.  There will be food.

You are also invited to contribute to the event by offering to lead a short (15 min) discussion under one of the following headings:

  • ‘Show and tell’: an innovative idea, tip or best practice that you’d like to share
  • ‘Show and yell’: a frustrating problem or issue that you would like to share and seek input on a solution.

Any other ideas or suggestions for this (or future) events welcome.  Please do share with colleagues across the University.

May 17, 2018 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Survey on Leadership Outdoors

Working with Dr William Fear,  we are doing exploratory research on leadership in the ‘outdoors’ and would appreciate your participation in a survey.

We are asking people who are not necessarily ‘professional’ outdoor leaders, but who participate in the outdoors, and have a love of being outdoors, to complete the survey as part of the second phase of our research.

You can take the survey by following the link below Outdoor Leadership 2 or copying and pasting this URL into your browser  Further details about the survey itself, including how the data will be used is provided via this link.

Leadership has become an increasingly important idea over the past decades with some models and theories more popular than others. Rather than looking at a single model we are interested in how people with outdoor leadership roles perceive themselves and others in those roles, and how people who do not take outdoor leadership roles perceive leadership in the same context. Our aim is to explore these perceptions and relationships with a view to improving the experiences of both leaders and people who just enjoy being outdoors.

We feel this work is important not least because of the increasing number of people making use of the outdoors as a means of recreation. This is placing increasing pressure on what are often fragile environments, and at times dangerous ones.

The results of our work will be published in academic journals and summaries will be released via social media and, we hope, via other relevant outlets such as the ATRA conference in 2019

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and we hope you will participate in our survey by following the link below Outdoor Leadership 2 or copying and pasting this URL into your browser

Please note that members of the professional outdoor leadership community may already have received an invitation to participate.

Drs. William James Fear and Katrina Louise Pritchard

May 10, 2018 at 8:43 am Leave a comment

My chapters in the SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods now available!

I am delighted to have a chapter in each of these volumes.  Please do get in touch if you’d like a copy of either chapter (

Pritchard, K and Whiting, R (2018) ‘Analysing web images’ in SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods Volume 2 (Eds. Cassell, C; Cunliffe, A and Grandy, G) Sage: London

 Whiting, R and Pritchard, K (2018) ‘Digital Ethics’ in SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods Volume 1 (Eds. Cassell, C; Cunliffe, A and Grandy, G) Sage: London


April 23, 2018 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

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Katrina Pritchard

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