The body, identity and gender in managerial athleticism

Janet Johansson, Janne Tienari, Anu Valtonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


We argue that the healthy, fit and athletic body plays an essential role in the way contemporary managerial identities are construed. Drawing on insights from Judith Butler, we study these bodily identities as a form of regulation in organizations. We identify the cultural basis of regulation, show how it operates through specific norms, and detail how it implies gender. Based on an empirical study of men and women in management who are passionate about their healthy and fit bodies and athletic lifestyles, we demonstrate how norms set by managerial athleticism – understood as a particular regulative regime – operate through three discursive practices: perfecting the body, advocating against non-fit bodies, and becoming a role model. We show how the norms operate in both explicit and abject fashion and how they are implied in masculine language and materialized in physical (athletic) bodies. We offer new insights on how bodily identity regulation occurs and elucidate the gendered complexity and contradictions inscribed in managerial athleticism.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalHuman Relations
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1141-1167
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 17.01.2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • body
  • fitness
  • gender
  • health
  • identity
  • management
  • managerial athleticism
  • regulation
  • sports


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