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Peering inside mutual adjustment : rhythmanalysis of return to work from maternity leave

Rouse, Julia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5967-6038, Atkinson, Jamie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5244-141X and Rowe, Andrew (2021) Peering inside mutual adjustment : rhythmanalysis of return to work from maternity leave. International Small Business Journal, 39 (8). pp. 709-731. ISSN 0266-2426

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Abstract

We peer inside the notion that small firm employment relations are a matter of mutual adjustment to conceptualise a key relation subject to negotiation as space–time–energy rhythms. Businesses must offer their goods and services in line with the rhythms of their marketplace and they do so by developing their own rhythms in the form of organisational roles and routines. Staff are only available to fulfil roles if they can synchronise work rhythms with those of their bodies, the people they care for, family members and care services. Mutual adjustment relies on synchronising organisational and market rhythms with non-business rhythms. This demands ‘rhythm intelligence’, practised by managers, workers and teams and, ideally, embedded as an organisational capability. Through empirical exploration of a typical point of negotiation – return from maternity leave – we propose a framework of practices and conditions that constitute rhythm intelligence and outline implications for managers and research.

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