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Reconceptualising vulnerability and its value for managerial identity and learning

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sandra Corlett, Professor Sharon MavinORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd., 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Managers are meant to be ‘in control’ and confident. They are not meant to be vulnerable. A common response when managers experience vulnerability may be to conceal it and protect themselves through identity work. This may close down learning opportunities. We reconceptualise vulnerability for identity work and managerial learning by drawing upon Butler’s theory of vulnerability. Analysing interviews with middle and senior managers and presenting our own reflexive learning, we address a lack of empirical accounts of managers’ experiences of vulnerability. We offer three processes of relational vulnerability for identity work and managerial learning: 1) recognising and claiming vulnerability; 2) sharing vulnerability with trusted others and developing social support and; 3) recognising alternative ways of conceptualising and responding to vulnerability. We raise consciousness to the value for identity work and practical utility for managerial learning in enabling managers to develop social support with trusted others, and offering opportunities for managers and management educators to influence and develop organisational cultures supportive of managerial learning.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Corlett S, Mavin S, Beech N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Management Learning

Year: 2019

Volume: 50

Issue: 5

Pages: 556-575

Print publication date: 01/11/2019

Online publication date: 22/10/2019

Acceptance date: 01/07/2019

Date deposited: 11/07/2019

ISSN (print): 1350-5076

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7307

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/1350507619865650


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