Dr. Helena Heizmann is a Senior Lecturer in Management at UTS Business School. She holds a PhD in International Communication from Macquarie University which was funded through an International Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship (MQRES). Helena’s research focuses on knowledge sharing, power, and boundary spanning in different professional, organisational, and cultural contexts. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed international journals such as Human Relations, Management Learning, and The International Journal of Human Resource Management. Since joining the Business School in 2012, Helena has designed and coordinated a core MBA communication subject with over 400 local and international students per semester. She has been recognised for ‘Excellence in Teaching’, having been repeatedly voted among the top 20 postgraduate lecturers in the School.
Can supervise: YES
Leadership development, Sustainable digital business transformations, Organisational power and communication dynamics, Critical Management Studies, Discourse theory, Cross-boundary learning and knowledge sharing, Human resource management and development, International NGOs and capacity building
Business Communication, Managing, Leading & Stewardship, Change Management
Heizmann, H & Fox, S 2019, 'O Partner, Where Art Thou? A critical discursive analysis of HR managers’ struggle for legitimacy', International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 30, no. 13, pp. 2026-2048.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study of HRM in an Australian insurance firm applies a critical discursive perspective to examine HR managers’ attempts to position themselves as Human Resources Business Partners. Analysing semi-structured interviews, we aim to provide a situated understanding of HR managers’ experiences as they sought to become accepted as co-equal partners by line management. Our findings draw attention to the gap between prescriptive accounts of HR Business Partnering and the tensions and legitimacy struggles HR managers face when adopting their new roles. We show the impact of line management’s resistance to HRM and the concomitant need for HR managers to legitimate their position in a new way. The introduction of an organizational culture survey, in particular, supplemented discursive attempts to promote the change amongst line managers and constituted a key driver in the process. Our study contributes to the study of HRM change by showing how the shift to an HRM business partnership model can be a precarious accomplishment: (1) enacted through the interweaving of discursive and socio-material practices, and (2) subject to the constraints of existing organisational power/knowledge relations.
Ahuja, S, Heizmann, H & Clegg, SR 2019, 'Emotions and identity work: Emotions as discursive resources in the constitution of junior professionals’ identities', Human Relations, vol. 72, no. 5, pp. 988-1009.View/Download from: Publisher's site
For junior professionals, notions of professional identity established during their education are often called into question in the early stages of their professional careers. The workplace gives rise to identity challenges that manifest in significant emotional struggles. However, although extant literature highlights how emotions trigger and accompany identity work, the constitutive role of emotions in identity work is under-researched. In this article, we analyse how junior professionals mobilize emotions as discursive resources for identity work. Drawing on an empirical study of junior architects employed in professional service firms, we examine how professional identities, imbued with varying forms of discipline and agency, are discursively represented. The study makes two contributions to the literature on emotions and identity work. First, we identify three key identity work strategies (idealizing, reframing and distancing) that are bound up in junior architects’ emotion talk. We suggest that these strategies act simultaneously as a coping mechanism and as a disciplinary force in junior architects’ efforts to constitute themselves as professionals. Second, we argue that identity work may not always lead to the accomplishment of a positive sense of self but can express a sense of disillusionment that leads to the constitution of dejected professional identities.
Heizmann, H & Liu, H 2018, 'Becoming green, becoming leaders: Identity narratives in sustainability leadership development', Management Learning, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 40-58.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Sustainability leadership, exercised towards ecologically sustainable practices in business and society, has emerged as an important aim of leadership development programmes. Through the multimodal discursive analysis of a sustainability leadership centre in Australia, we demonstrate how its identity narratives reproduce individualist ideals of leadership and take for granted the hyperagency of heroic individuals to single-handedly solve environmental crises. Specifically, we illustrate how the development of sustainability leaders is co-constructed through the Buddhist narrative of Prince Siddhartha via three stages: leaders first find their calling that activates their inherent capability to effect change, reach awakening through self-discovery and self-empowerment with the help of the development programme, and finally transform the world through building both successful and meaningful careers. In the light of these findings, we question whether sustainability leadership discourses glorify the self and ironically sustain our disconnection from nature in the pursuit of business success.
Heizmann, HK 2018, 'Leadership-as-practice. Theory & Application', Academy of Management Learning and Education.
Schweinsberg, S, Heizmann, H, Darcy, S, Wearing, S & Djolic, M 2018, 'Establishing academic leadership praxis in sustainable tourism: lessons from the past and bridges to the future', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 2018, no. 9, pp. 1577-1586.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper examines the potential contribution of academics working in the sustainable tourism arena from a relational, practice-based leadership perspective. It argues that these leadership perspectives require a shift in thinking from narrowly defined, instrumental measures of academic impact imposed by performance management and the somewhat heroic ideals of leadership. Instead it outlines how everyday practice that directly influences collaborative agency among multiple tourism stakeholders is able to provide a more useful direction. To illustrate this perspective, it engages in retrospective reflection, drawing on a number of pioneers in tourism scholarship. It specifically examines their praxis of dialogue, stewardship, and critical reflexivity and the ways in which these may serve to inspire future sustainable tourism education and scholarship.
Heizmann, H, Fee, A & Gray, SJ 2018, 'Intercultural Knowledge Sharing Between Expatriates and Host-country Nationals in Vietnam: A Practice-based Study of Communicative Relations and Power Dynamics', Journal of International Management, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 16-32.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2017 Elsevier Inc. We examine the communicative enabling practices and power dynamics of intercultural knowledge sharing relationships between Australian expatriates and host-country nationals from a practice-based theoretical perspective. Drawing on the results of an empirical field study, including interviews with 20 Australian expatriates and 23 Vietnamese host-country nationals, we identify three discrete phases of the relationships: (1) relationship building, (2) reciprocal learning and (3) knowledge co-construction. These stages provide the basis for a theoretical model and propositions that articulate specific communicative practices of both expatriates and host country nationals in developing and maintaining productive knowledge sharing relationships. Central to this is a dynamic process of power renegotiation between expatriates and host-country nationals that goes beyond prescriptive notions of 'power distance'. Our findings extend current (expatriate-centred) research by showing how effective (two-way) KS relations are constituted through the discursive practices of both HCNs and expatriates in ways that are complementary, mutually reinforcing, and transformational.
Fee, A, Heizmann, H & Gray, SJ 2017, 'Towards a theory of effective cross-cultural capacity development: the experiences of Australian international NGO expatriates in Vietnam', The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 28, no. 14, pp. 2036-2061.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Capacity development (CD) partnerships between highly qualified expatriates and host-country counterparts are a commonly used tool by non-government organisations (NGOs) working in international development. This article reports on an empirical investigation of the factors contributing to the effectiveness of these interpersonal cross-cultural CD relationships. Using a variant of the critical incident technique, we explored 40 such relationships (20 effective and 20 ineffective) reported by 20 expatriates from an Australian international NGO who were embedded in international and domestic NGOs and government organisations in Vietnam. From our analysis, we propose a theoretical model that identifies the features of effective cross-cultural CD relationships. The model is intended to lay the foundation for future research as well as strategic action by organisations. It identifies shared trust between expatriate and counterpart as central to effective CD, supported by five enabling conditions relating to the perceptions, abilities and attitudes of participants, the way the work roles are structured, and the way that leaders in the host organisations manage the context of the relationship.
Heizmann, H 2015, 'Working across Cultural Spheres: The Knowledge Sharing Practices of Boundary spanners in a Global Insurance Firm', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: Publisher's site
As organisations are becoming increasingly complex from a cultural perspective, it is important to understand how practitioners manage the differences that arise when working with peers that engage in different cultural (national cultural, professional, functional) spheres. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to practice-based research on knowledge sharing by using a discourse analytic lens which exposes the link between the knowledge (sharing) practices of boundary spanners at cultural interfaces and its immediate power effects for the subjects involved. The paper examines how a community of in-house consultants in a global insurance firm shifts from translating to transformational knowledge sharing practices depending on the power relations that link them to their audiences, highlighting: (1) the political nature of boundary spanners’ knowledge sharing practices, (2) the power effects for the subjects involved and (3) the relational character of communities of practice. The study suggests that knowledge (sharing) practices are not neutral but have power implications that need to be considered in cross-cultural boundary work if participants want to achieve more meaningful forms of mutual engagement.
Heizmann, H & Olsson, MR 2015, 'Power matters: the importance of Foucault's power/knowledge as a conceptual lens in KM research and practice', JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 756-769.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Introduction. This paper advocates Foucault's notion of pouvoir/savoir (power/knowledge) as a conceptual lens that information researchers might fruitfully use to develop a richer understanding of the relationship between knowledge and power.
Methods. Three of the authors' earlier studies are employed to illustrate the use of this conceptual lens. Methodologically, the studies are closely related: they adopted a qualitative research design and made use of semi-structured and/or conversational, in-depth interviews as their primary method of data collection. The data were analysed using an inductive, discourse analytic approach.
Analysis. The paper provides a brief introduction to Foucault's concept before examining the information practices of academic, professional and artistic communities. Through concrete empirical examples, the authors aim to demonstrate how a Foucauldian lens will provide a more in-depth understanding of how particular information practices exert authority in a discourse community while other such practices may be construed as ineffectual.
Conclusion. The paper offers a radically different conceptual lens through which researchers can study information practices, not in individual or acultural terms but as a social construct, both a product and a generator of power/knowledge.
Heizmann, H 2012, 'Workplace Information Practices among Human Resources Professionals: Discursive Boundaries in Action', Information Research, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 1-18.
Introduction. This paper reports on a case study that examines the discursive values, norms and boundaries that shape information practices among human resources professionals. Its findings have broader implications for an understanding of the social construction of information practices and the boundary dynamics between communities of practice. Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty members of a corporate human resources department. Analysis. The data were analysed through a qualitative, discourse analytic approach. Participants played an active role in the analysis process through follow-up interviews and e-mail correspondence. Results. The study's findings show how two competing discourses within the field of human resources practice (human resource management and personnel management) manifest themselves in the information practices of human resources professionals. Two distinct communities of practice were found to engage in different information practices, shaped by different discursive values and norms. The study's analysis highlights discursive boundary setting between the two communities and suggests that this dynamic hindered the establishment of a trustful collaborative relationship. Conclusions. An understanding of the discursive boundary relations that operate in specific domains of practice can help to explain patterns of information seeking, sharing and use. The paper encourages further research into the discursive nature of boundary relations.
Heizmann, H 2011, 'Knowledge sharing in a dispersed network of HR practice: Zooming in on power/knowledge struggles', Management Learning, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 379-393.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The practice-based view of knowledge is recognized as an important epistemological perspective in the knowledge management literature. However, there is also a growing awareness that approaches adopting this view do not always consider issues of power. This article draws on Foucaults conceptual lens of power/ knowledge and discursive positioning theory to gain a better understanding of how and why practitioners contest, accept, and/or further each others knowledge. The article applies its theoretical framework to examine knowledge sharing in a dispersed network of HR practice. The empirical example illustrates how organizational power/knowledge struggles affect dynamics of participation in networks of practice and generate knowledge sharing issues between geographically dispersed practitioners. Based on the studys findings and analysis, the article promotes a power-sensitive view of organizational knowledge sharing that recognizes the discursively constructed nature of relationships within networks of practice.
Heizmann, H 2008, 'Knowledge Sharing in International NGOs', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 7, no. 11, pp. 65-72.
Heizmann, H 2008, 'The Concept of Culture in Knowledge Management: Towards a Cohesion-oriented View', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 8, no. 8, pp. 35-43.
Heizmann, HK 2018, 'Knowledge Management, Power and Conflict' in Syed, J, Murray, P, Hislop, D & Mouzughi, Y (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Knowledge Management, Palgrave Macmillan, UK, pp. 177-200.View/Download from: Publisher's site
There is a pervasive tendency in knowledge management (KM) research and practice to downplay or ignore issues of power and conflict (Heizmann and Olsson 2015; Kärreman 2010). Yet such issues are central to KM research and practice in more than one way. They shape the identities and struggles of those involved in and/or affected by KM projects; they underpin how teams and communities share and generate knowledge across professional, functional and organisational boundaries; and can be traced in conflicts over knowledge ownership between employers and employees. Perhaps more importantly even, issues of power and conflict co-constitute the ‘conditions of knowing’ (Blackler 1995) that underpin and regulate organisational practice. As such, they determine why some KM programmes and initiatives are considered as‘best practice’ while others are spoken about as ‘failures’; and how specific value statements about ‘appropriate’ KM practice are (re-)produced in some(temporal, sociocultural and/or historical) contexts while lacking authority in others.
This paper presents an exploratory account of how patent attorneys understand the relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their professional identity. Drawing on observations supplemented by interview data with patent attorneys working in a large Australian Intellectual property (IP) firm, we draw attention to how patent attorneys assert their professional identities in ways that maintain their expert status alongside specific AI
tools. In particular, we expose talk of ‘feelings’ as a form of identity work that allows patent attorneys to claim continued relevance and cope with the introduction of AI and changes to the situated practices of professionals in professional service firms (PSFs). The aim of our research is (1) to nuance extant understandings of the influence of AI technologies on professional identity and (2) build on emerging discussions that AI can be designed to augment the work of human experts rather than replacing the professional.
Ahuja, S, Mastio, E & Heizmann, H 2020, 'Identities and Technology: AI and the Disruption of Patent Attorneys' Practices and Identities', Oxford Said Annual Conference on Professional Service Firms, Oxford, UK.
AI and machine learning have been considered as the most disruptive force in the once exclusive province of human professionals (Susskind and Susskind 2015). Our study examines the introduction of AI for improving patent drafting in an Australian professional service firm (PSF) that specializes in Intellectual Property (IP). This project is part of a larger
research project to study the digital transformation of the firm. In this empirical paper, we examine the data deploying an interpretive discursive perspective (Heracleous 2004) to produce a rich account of ‘what is actually going on’ from an attorney’s perspective. Drawing on observations supplemented by interview data with patent attorneys working in a
large Australian Intellectual property (IP) firm, we conceptualize talk of ‘feelings’ as an identity work strategy that enables attorneys to: (1) feel relevant and (2) cope with the disruption to their practices by AI in the patent drafting process.
Ahuja, S, Heizmann, HK, Nikolova, N & Clegg, S 2017, ''Old Hat, New Tricks? Professional Identity in Collaborative (Architectural) Practices', European Group for Organisational Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Heizmann, HK 2017, 'Developing Facilitative Leaders. A Discursive Analysis of Shifting Understandings of Identity and Power in Leadership Development', The 10th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Liverpool, UK.
Heizmann, H, Fee, A. & Gray, Sidney 2014, 'Effective Cross-cultural Capacity Development: The Importance of Boundary Contact Conditions.', 28th Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference ANZAM 2014, Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, University of Technology Sydney.
Olsson, MR, Heizmann, H & Yerbury, H 2013, 'Active Citizenship and Knowledge Management: A Practice-based Perspective', Active Citizenship by Knowledge, Management & Innovation. Proceedings of the Management, Knowledge, and Learning International Conference 2013, Management, Knowledge, and Learning International Conference, ToKnowPress, Zadar, Croatia, pp. 525-532.
Active Citizenship and Knowledge Management: A Practice-based Perspective
Heizmann, H 2017, 'Developing facilitative leaders. A discursive analysis of shifting understandings of identity and power in leadership development'.