I was introduced to leadership research in 2007 at the University of Sydney. Through my Honours, I was initiated into discourse analysis by examining how CEOs framed their failures. The resulting thesis, When Leaders Fail, went on to be awarded First Class. My love for research was cemented on Valentine’s Day, 2008, when I was invited to present at a leadership and discourse seminar, which eventually led to an invited publication in Management Communication Quarterly and my enrolment in a PhD.
I began my PhD in July 2008 just as the global financial crisis emerged in Australia. I turned my attention to the local banking sector and examined how authenticity was constructed among the major bank CEOs in the media. I was awarded my degree in August 2012.
Shortly after I graduated, I joined Swinburne University of Technology as a Research Fellow, where my work explored ethical forms of leadership in banking and philanthropy. Within my first year, I accepted an ongoing position at Swinburne Business School, before joining University of Technology Sydney as a Senior Lecturer in 2016.
As I have grown into my own as a scholar, my research has taken more of a critical slant. My work attends to the gendered, raced, and classed nature of our enduring romance with ‘leadership’. Some of my recent projects are detailed below:
solo projectMy study explores the politics of leadership theorising, in particular, the power dynamics that shape leadership knowledge production. It aims to pull back the curtain to how ‘leadership’ is brought into being by academics. My project was funded by the Management Discipline Group 2016 Grant Scheme.
with helena heizmannWe are fascinated by the rising interest in sustainability leadership. Despite its laudable goals to harness leadership towards ecologically sustainable practices, our study examines the tendencies to romanticise leadership as a panacea for environmental sustainability. Our project is funded by the Management Discipline Group 2016 Grant Scheme.
Leadership and Race
solo projectMy study follows from my interrogation of whiteness in Leadership. In search of leadership where it is often overlooked, I conducted interviews with 21 Chinese Australian leaders across government and business. Emerging from my study are narratives of resistance, self-determination, and sensuality currently in the process of being written. My project was funded by the Faculty of Business and Law 2014 Grants Scheme.
with christopher bakerOur study was inspired by the heroic portrayals of Twiggy Forrest in the media following his decision to join The Giving Pledge. We conducted visual and verbal analyses of 18 Australian philanthropists in the media and found that they are depicted as ethical leaders via three paradoxical identities: Aristocratic Battlers; Caring Controllers; and Publicity-Shy Celebrities. Our project was funded by the Faculty of Business and Enterprise 2013 Grants Scheme.
Liu, H. (2020), Redeeming Leadership: An Anti-Racist Feminist Intervention, Bristol: Bristol University Press.
Heizmann, H. and Liu, H. (2020), ‘“Bloody Wonder Woman!”: Identity performances of elite women entrepreneurs on Instagram’, Human Relations.
Dar, S., Liu, H., Martinez Dy, A. and Brewis, D. (2020), ‘The business school is racist: Act up!’, Organization.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Living with the risks of critical autoethnography’, Journal of Autoethnography, 1(4), pp. 420–424.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘To be a hero and traitor: A reflection on truth-telling and fear’, ephemera, 19(4), pp. 865–873.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘Just the servant: An intersectional critique of servant leadership’, Journal of Business Ethics, 156(4), pp. 1099–1112.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘An embarrassment of riches: The seduction of postfeminism in the academy’, Organization, 26(1), pp. 20–37.
Pullen, A., Rhodes, C., McEwen, C. and Liu, H. (2019), ‘Radical politics, intersectionality and leadership for diversity in organizations’, Management Decision.
Liu, H. and Pechenkina, K. (2019), ‘Innovation-by-numbers: An autoethnography of innovation as violence’, Culture & Organization, 25(3), pp. 178–188.
Aumais, N., Basque, J., Carrim, N.M.H., Daskalaki, M., Dorion, L., Garneau, J., Jeanes, E., Kostera, M., Liu, H., Loacker, B., Muhr, S.L., O’Shea, S.C., Plotnikof, M., Siegert, S., Śliwa, M., Villesèche, F., and Vladimirou, D. (2018), ‘In 1000 words: #TimeIsUp, academics and organization studies’, [email protected]@gement, 21(3), pp. 1080–1117.
Liu, H. (2018), ‘Re-radicalising intersectionality in organisation studies’, ephemera, 18(1), pp. 81–101.
Heizmann, H. and Liu, H. (2018), ‘Becoming green, becoming leaders: Identity narratives in sustainability leadership development’, Management Learning, 49(1), pp. 40–58.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Undoing whiteness: The Dao of anti-racist diversity practice’, Gender, Work & Organization, 24(5), pp. 457–471.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Beneath the white gaze: Strategic self-Orientalism among Chinese Australians’, Human Relations, 70(7), pp. 781–804.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘The masculinisation of ethical leadership dis/embodiment’, Journal of Business Ethics, 144(2), pp. 263–278.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Sensuality as subversion: Doing masculinity with Chinese Australian professionals’, Gender, Work & Organization, 24(2), pp. 194–212.
Liu, H., Cutcher, L., and Grant D. (2017), ‘Authentic leadership in context: An analysis of banking CEO narratives during the global financial crisis’, Human Relations, 70(6), pp. 694–724.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Reimagining ethical leadership as a relational, contextual and political practice’, Leadership, 13(3), pp. 343–367.
Liu, H. and Baker, C. (2016), ‘White Knights: Leadership as the heroicisation of whiteness’, Leadership, 12(4), pp. 420–448.
Liu, H. and Pechenkina, K. (2016), ‘Staying quiet or rocking the boat? An autoethnography of organisational visual white supremacy’, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 35(3), pp. 186–204.
Liu, H. and Baker, C. (2016), ‘Ordinary aristocrats: The discursive construction of philanthropists as ethical leaders’, Journal of Business Ethics, 133(2), pp. 261–277.
Liu, H. (2015), ‘Constructing the GFC: Australian banking leaders during the financial “crisis”’, Leadership, 11(4), pp. 424–450.
Liu, H., Cutcher, L., and Grant D. (2015), ‘Doing authenticity: The gendered construction of authentic leadership’, Gender, Work & Organization, 22(3), pp. 237–255.
Fee, A., McGrath-Champ, S., and Liu, H. (2013), ‘Human resources and expatriate evacuation: A conceptual model’, Journal of Global Mobility, 1(3), pp. 246–263.
Liu, H. (2010), ‘When leaders fail: A typology of failures and framing strategies’, Management Communication Quarterly, 24(2), pp. 232–259.
Fleischmann, A., Holck, L., Murgia, A., Muhr, S.L. and Liu, H. (2020), ‘Organizing solidarity in difference: Challenges, achievements and emerging imaginaries’, Organization.
Liu, H., Dar, S., Martinez Dy, A. and Brewis, D. (2020), ‘Anti-racism in the age of white supremacy and backlash’, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Heizmann, H. and Liu, H. (2018), ‘Virtual Special Issue — discourse’, Management Learning.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Diversity beyond whiteness: The possibilities for anti-racist diversity research’ in S.N. Just, A. Risberg and F. Villesèche (eds), Routledge Companion to Organizational Diversity Research Methods (pp. 24–35), Routledge.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Life between interlocking oppressions: An intersectional approach to organizational autoethnography’ in A.F. Herrmann (ed), Routledge International Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography (pp. 42–53), Routledge.
Brewis, D.N., Dar, S., Martinez Dy, A., Liu, H. and Salmon, U. (2020), ‘Building the antiracist classroom: How the collective makes the radical possible’ in D. Gabriel (ed), Transforming the Ivory Tower: Models for Gender Equality & Social Justice (pp. 18–34), UCL Press.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘Decolonising organisations with bell hooks’ in R. McMurray and A. Pullen (eds), Power, Politics & Exclusion in Organization and Management (pp. 110–128), Routledge.
Liu, H. (2018), ‘Redoing and abolishing whiteness in leadership’ in B. Carroll, S. Wilson and J. Firth (eds), After Leadership (pp. 101–114), Routledge.
Liu, H. (2018), ‘Leadership from the margins: Practising inclusivity with “outsiders within”’ in S. Adapa and A. Sheridan (eds), Inclusive Leadership: Negotiating Gendered Spaces (pp. 1–20), Palgrave Macmillan.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Redeeming difference in CMS through anti-racist feminisms’ in A. Pullen, N. Harding, and M. Phillips (eds), Dialogues in CMS Volume 3: Queer Theorists and Feminists Debate the Future of CMS (pp. 39–56), Emerald Group Publishing.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘A fairytale career: Media representations of Australia’s first female banking CEO’ in C. Elliott, V. Stead, S. Mavin, and J. Williams (eds), Gender, Media, & Organization: Changing Mis(s)representations of Women Leaders and Managers (pp. 49–62), Information Age Publishing.
Pechenkina, K. and Liu, H. (2018), ‘Instruments of white supremacy: People of colour resisting white domination in higher education’, Whiteness & Education, 3(1), pp. 1–14.
Liu, H. and McGrath-Champ, S. (2014), ‘“Inspired by Business”: A case of mentoring among low socio-economic students’, International Studies in Widening Participation, 1(1), pp. 2–14.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Book review of Critical Perspectives on Leadership: The Language of Corporate Power’, Organization Studies.
Liu, H. (2015), ‘Book review of Leadership: A Critical Text by Simon Western’, Organization, 22(6), pp. 944–948.
Liu, H. (2014), ‘Book review of Stepping Up: Lead Culture Change for Diversity and Growth in the Asian Century by Pamela Young’, Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 20(1), pp. 89–91.
Liu, H. (2014), ‘Virtuous cycling on the job’, Inside Story.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Dismembered bodies, re-membering wholeness: Possibilities for intersectional justice’, Standing Conference for Organizational Symbolism, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6–9th July 2020. Postponed due to COVID-19.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘“Seeing ourselves as part of one another”: Anti-racist community-building’, 36th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium, Hamburg, Germany, 2–4th July 2020.
Liu, H., Dar, S., Martinez Dy, A. and Brewis, D. (2020), ‘Remaking the racist Business School’, Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Conference, Sydney, Australia, 6th February 2020.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘Relentless hauntings: Using ghosts to tell the truth’, Standing Conference for Organizational Symbolism, York, UK, 8–11th July 2019.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘Anti-racist feminist antidotes to white violences’, 35th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium, Edinburgh, UK, 4–6th July 2019.
Liu, H., Pullen, A. and Rhodes, C. (2018), ‘Relational intersectionality and organisational inequality regimes’, 34th EGOS Colloquium — Power, Inclusion and Intersectionality in Organizations, Tallinn, Estonia, 5–7th July, 2018.
Zueva-Owens, A. and Liu, H. (2018), ‘“Closing the gap”: The depoliticisation of gender inequality’, 34th EGOS Colloquium — Diversity and Diversity Management, Tallinn, Estonia, 5–7th July, 2018.
Liu, H., Pullen, A. and Rhodes, C. (2018), ‘Does relational intersectionality undo leadership?’, 10th Gender, Work and Organisation Conference, Sydney, Australia, 13–16th June, 2018.
Heizmann, H. and Liu, H. (2017), ‘Becoming green, becoming leaders’, 33rd EGOS Colloquium — Developing Leadership for the Good Organization, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6–8th July, 2017.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Lean in to postfeminism’ — Best Paper Award, 10th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Liverpool, UK, 3rd–5th July, 2017.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Redeeming difference in CMS through anti-racist feminism’, 10th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Liverpool, UK, 3rd–5th July, 2017.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘Leadership and the ethico-politics of intersectionality’, 15th International Studying Leadership Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 11–13th December, 2016.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘Leadership for a white gaze’, 32nd EGOS Colloquium — Reclaiming the Shadow for Leadership, Naples, Italy, 7–9th July, 2016.
Liu, H. (2015), ‘Writing eroticised subjects through desire and love’, 31st EGOS Colloquium — Ethico-Politics and Organization, Athens, Greece, 2nd–4th July, 2015.
Liu, H. and Baker, C. (2014), ‘Leadership, philanthropy and the heroicisation of whiteness’, 30th EGOS Colloquium — Language and Leadership: Discursive Variations in Ways of Leading, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 3rd–5th July, 2014.
Liu, H. (2013), ‘Embodying ethics: The visual representation of banking CEOs’, 29th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium — Embodying Leadership with Ethics in Mind, Montréal, Canada, 4–6th July, 2013.
Liu, H. (2013), ‘To thine own self be true? Authenticity among banking CEOs’, 1st International Leadership Association Oceania Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 22nd–24th April, 2013.
Liu, H. (2010), ‘Leadership through crisis: A media discourse analysis of banking CEOs’, 9th International Conference on Organisational Discourse, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 14–16th July, 2010.
Liu, H. (2009), ‘Leadership representation in times of uncertainty’, 2nd New Zealand Discourse Conference Auckland, New Zealand, 18–20th November, 2009.
Liu, H. (2019), ‘Redeeming leadership’, Leadership and Organisational Effectiveness Research Network, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2nd September 2019.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Women in leadership’, MBA Women's Network, UTS Business School, Sydney, Australia, 24th May 2017.
Liu, H. (2017), ‘Decolonising organisations: Following ‘African’ and Black intellectuals’, African Professionals of Australia, Sydney, Australia, 27th April 2017.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘Leadership and the ethico-politics of intersectionality’, Centre for Work, Organisation and Society, Essex Business School, Colchester, UK, 16th December 2016.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘Leadership for a white gaze: Strategic self-Orientalism among Chinese Australians’, UNE Business School, University of New England, Armidale, Australia, 4th November 2016.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘Leadership, masculinity, whiteness, and other romances’, Management Discipline Group, UTS Business School, Sydney, Australia, 4th May 2016.
Liu, H. and Grant, D. (2015), ‘Doing authenticity: The gendered construction of authentic leadership’, Qualitative Research Group, UNSW Business School, Sydney, Australia, 3rd December 2015.
Liu, H. (2014), ‘Heroicising whiteness: Racial dynamics in media representations of philanthropy’, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) Policy Forum, Melbourne, Australia, 11th November 2014.
Liu, H. and Baker, C. (2014), ‘Ordinary Aristocrats: The discursive construction of philanthropists as ethical leaders’, Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI), University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 14th May 2014.
Liu, H. (2014), ‘Reimagining ethical leadership as relational, contextual, and political’, Swinburne Leadership Dialogue, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, 27th March 2014.
Liu, H. (2013), ‘Sailors, mothers, daredevils, and bastards: Banking CEOs during the GFC’, Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre (APSILC), University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 12th June 2013.
Liu, H. (2013), ‘The Global Financial Play-Doh’, Faculty of Business and Enterprise DataBlitz — The GFC: Five Years On, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, 22nd March 2013.
Liu, H. (2013), ‘Sailors, mothers, daredevils, and bastards: Banking CEOs during the GFC’, Swinburne Leadership Dialogue, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, 21st February 2013.
Liu, H. (2012), ‘Why your students would rather play video games than attend your tutorials... and what video games can teach us about tutoring’, Dean’s Citation for Tutoring Awards Ceremony, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 9th October 2012.
Liu, H. (2008), ‘When leaders fail’, Organisational Discourse, Strategy and Change Workshop — Leadership and Discourse, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 14–15th February 2008.
media commentary & features
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Dismantling the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’, Transforming Society.
Liu, H. (2020), ‘Ending our romance with leadership’, Discover Society.
BARC (2019), ‘Building the anti-racist classroom’, Wonkhe.
Liu, H., Cutcher, L. and Grant, D. (2017), ‘The media play a role in deciding who is an authentic leader’, LSE Business Review.
Liu, H. (2016), ‘What’s the most powerful action you’ve seen to promote women into leadership roles?’, INTHEBLACK.
‘Authentic leadership: How to be the real thing’, The Australian.
‘Is authentic leadership stuck on gender norms?’, The Glass Hammer.
‘Ordinary Aristocrats: Philanthropists as ethical leaders?’, Pro Bono Australia.
Baker, C. and Liu, H. (2014), ‘Will Andrew Forrest convince Australia’s billionaires to open their wallets?’, The Guardian.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work. During my PhD, I tutored alongside my candidature and was honoured to be recognised by the University of Sydney Business School with a Dean’s Citation for Tutoring in all eight semesters. At Swinburne Business School, I coordinated the Honours degree and designed and delivered a comprehensive Research Design and Methodologies coursework programme.
In my current role at University of Technology Sydney, I lecture strategic human resource management at the undergraduate level and diversity and inclusion and project: future at the postgraduate level. My curricula challenge conventional managerial practice with bold examinations of power in the pursuit of social justice.
My teaching philosophy is informed by critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970); a learner-centred approach that aims to empower students towards positive social impact. Central to critical pedagogy is the concept of praxis, which refers to the connection between theory and practice. This notion drives my commitment to a rigorous research-led approach that concurrently grounds learning in students’ everyday practice. My overarching aim is to inspire my students to become reflexive lifelong learners who will challenge the narrow focus on profit that is otherwise all too common in Business Schools.
Hi, I’m Helena, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in the Management Discipline Group at UTS Business School in Sydney, Australia. My research and teaching reflect my interests in leadership, discourse and power. I’m co–Chief Investigator of an ARC-funded project researching intersectionality and leadership. My previous work has explored the ways leaders navigate through crisis, account for failures, and enact their authenticity.
I was born in Fuzhou, China before moving to Sydney, Australia when I was five. Hearing about my parents’ experiences growing up during the Cultural Revolution instilled in me a fascination with the connection between charisma and power and an insatiable appetite for leadership knowledge. When I’m not researching, I love to eat, take photographs, and play all manner of video games. I’m currently playing Pokémon Shield. Much earlier in my career, I was even invited to deliver a presentation about gaming and how it informs my teaching.
University of Technology Sydney
14–28 Ultimo Rd, Broadway,
NSW, 2007, Australia