Women roar: 'The women's thing' in the storywork of Tom Peters

David Collins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Academic commentary on the excellence project has tended to operate with a caricature of Tom Peters and has, furthermore, made broad claims for the organizing potential of the stories that feature in his texts. This article argues that any attempt to explore the nature of guru theory or to account for the organizing potential of its storyworld must look beyond such distortions and should be located within a critical analysis of storytelling practice. To this end we offer a sustained engagement with the work of Tom Peters and a longitudinal analysis of the stories that he has used to bring form and substance to his excellence project. Recognizing the dynamic nature of the excellence project the article focuses upon Peters' attempts to feminize the concept and practice of business excellence.Through an analysis of Tom Peters' storytelling practice we seek to explore the role, status and position of women in the excellence project and the extent of Peters' conversion to 'the women's thing'. We argue that there is a narrative continuity in Peters' work, which continues to portray women as organizationally problematic, and so, unworthy of full organizational membership. Reflecting upon this finding the article suggests a response to Peters' attempts to feminize the excellence project that builds upon the transgressive potential of humour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-424
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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