Professor Sierk Ybema

Professor in Organization Studies
Faculty of Business and Law
Areas of Expertise:
Business, management and leadership , Business Management
Research Supervision:

Sierk Ybema’s research centres on social, cultural and political processes in (inter)organizational settings. He studies social actors’ interactions and interpretations as they negotiate cross-boundary collaboration, radical organizational change, and managerial control and workplace resistance.

[email protected]
Sierk's profile on ResearchGate
Sierk's profile on Google Scholar


Sierk Ybema has published on relational and temporal identity talk, inter-organizational relationships, intercultural conflict, boundary work and in/exclusion, managerial discourse and ‘postalgia’, narratives of organizational change, workplace resistance, and organizational ethnography. After finishing his MA in Organisational Psychology, he taught Organisational Anthropology and, in 2003, finished his PhD-thesis on organizational identity crisis. Today, he participates in a variety of externally funded projects, ranging from cross-cultural collaboration (Chinese business in Europe) to organizational change (e.g., in police and healthcare organizations). Besides his position at Anglia Ruskin University, he is also teaching and researching at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), the Netherlands.

Spoken Languages


Research interests
  • organizational identities
  • cross-boundary collaboration
  • control and workplace resistance
  • organizational discourse and change
  • intercultural communication
  • organizational ethnography

Over the last two decades, Sierk has undertaken ethnographic research in an amusement park and in the editorial staffs of national newspapers. As a supervisor and co-researcher, more recent research focused on Japanese, Chinese an Dutch multinational companies, the Amsterdam municipality, the Dutch National Police, the cultural industries, and health care organizations. This research was funded by the government, public organizations and industry partners.

Areas of research supervision
  • organizational identities
  • cross-boundary collaboration
  • control and workplace resistance
  • organizational discourse and change
  • intercultural communication
  • organizational ethnography

Some of Sierk's PhD supervisions include:

  • Identity at work: Control and commitment in postbureaucratic organisations
  • Culture and hierarchy: Japanese-Dutch encounters on the work-floor
  • Dealing with dualities: Talent management and diversity management in a multinational corporation
  • Organizing and collaboration in Chinese workplaces
  • Boundary work, care providers, and citizen involvement
  • Organizational change, collaboration and professional identity in elderly care
  • Decentralization of elderly care
  • Discursively constructing innovation in health care
  • Cross-boundary collaboration in an international start-up company
  • Integrated healthcare
  • Ph.D. Social Science, Dpt Culture, Organization and Management, VU University Amsterdam, Thesis Title: Discourses on tradition and transition: Conflict among editors of Trouw & de Volkskrant, 2003
  • M.Sc. Organizational psychology, Department of Work & Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, 1992               

Memberships, editorial boards
  • Associate Editor Organization
  • Member of the Editorial Board Organization Studies
  • Principal Organiser International Conference on Organizational Discourse
  • Principal Organiser Ethnography Workshop (in collaboration with Cardiff and Lyon)
  • Member EGOS

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Co-applicant VU Faculty of Social Sciences’ Institute for Societal Resilience ‘Chinese business in Europe—cross-cultural collaboration’. Collaboration with Pàl Nyìri, Nana de Graaff, and Michiel Verver, 2018, €15.000
  • Project Leader ‘Innovation and integration of health care’, Talma Institute, Insurance companies & health care providers (collaboration of Talma partners), 2016-2018, 1.15m€
  • Principal applicant & Project Leader ‘Change & Innovation in Nursing Homes’, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (total budget €1.400.000 consortium with, inter alia, Trimbos Institute), 2016-2018, €152.000, 2016: €44.000, 2017-8: €108.000
  • Principal applicant & Project Leader ‘Decentralization of long-term care to municipalities’, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (in collaboration with Henk Nies), 2014-2018, €200.000 (VU/ FSW matching €50.000)
  • Co-applicant VU Faculty of Social Sciences’ Institute for Societal Resilience ‘Naar een veerkrachtige samenwerking in het lokale sociaal domein’ (with Hans Bosselaar, Duco Bannink), 2017, €8.000
  • Principal applicant ‘Decentralisation of LTC’ NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). Consortium Building, 2013, €20.000
  • ‘Cross-boundary collaboration in long-term care’, Zonnehuisgroep (principal applicant: Henk Nies), 2012-2018, €500.000
  • Project Manager ‘From loyalty to flexibility? The effects of a new managerial regime in Japan’ NWO/Mozaïek PhD grant, with Hyunghae Byun, Nr. 017.003.050, 2008, €180.000
  • NWO/British Council Link-project, UK/NL-collaboration, ‘Identity, temporality and work spaces: Ethnographies of the dynamics of membership within organisational settings’ PPS 772, 2006, €40.000

Selected recent publications

van Hulst, M., & Ybema, S. (2020). From what to where: A setting-sensitive approach to organizational storytelling. Organization studies, 41(3), 365-391.

Ybema, S. (2020) Bridging self and sociality: Identity construction and social context. In A.D. Brown (Ed.) Oxford handbook of identities in organization studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapter 3, pp. 51-67.

Glimmerveen, L., S. Ybema & H. Nies (2020) Engaged yet excluded: The processual, dispersed, and political dynamics of boundary work. Human Relations 73(11), 1504–1536.

Ybema, S., F. Kamsteeg & K. Veldhuizen (2019) Sensitivity to situated positionings: Generating insight into organizational change. Management Learning 50(2), 189-207

Glimmerveen, L., S. Ybema & H. Nies (2018). Empowering citizens or mining resources? The contested domain of citizen engagement in professional care services. Social Science & Medicine.

Daubner, D., S. Ybema & C. Vinkenburg (2018). The talent  paradox: Talent Management as a mixed blessing. Journal of Organizational Ethnography.

Ybema, S. & Horvers, M. (2017). Resistance through compliance: The strategic and subversive potential of frontstage and backstage resistance. Organization Studies, 38(9), 1233-1251.

Zanoni, P., A. Thoelen & S. Ybema (2017). Unveiling the subject behind diversity: Exploring the micro-politics of representation in ethnic minority creatives’ identity work. Organization, 24(3), 330-354.

Alvesson, M., D. Kärreman & S. Ybema (2017) Studying culture in organizations: Not taking for granted the taken-for-granted. In A. Wilkinson, S.J. Armstrong & M. Lounsbury (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 103-126. ISBN: 9780198708612

Beech, N., Gilmore, C., Hibbert, P., & Ybema, S. (2016). Identity-in-the-work and musicians’ struggles: The production of self-questioning identity work. Work, Employment & Society, 30 (3), 506-522.

Van Marrewijk, A., Ybema, S., Smits, K., Clegg, S. & Pitsis, T. (2016). Clash of the titans: Temporal organizing and collaborative dynamics in the Panama Canal Expansion Project. Organization Studies, 37(12), 1745-1769.

Van Hulst, M., S. Ybema & D. Yanow (2016) Ethnography and organizational processes. In A. Langley & H. Tsoukas (Eds.) The Sage Handbook of Process Organization Studies. London: Sage, pp. 223-236.

Ybema, S., R. Thomas & C. Hardy (2016) Organizational change and resistance: An identity perspective. In D. Courpasson & S. Vallas (eds.) The Sage handbook of resistance. London: Sage, pp. 386-404. ISBN 978-1-4739-0643-3

Ybema, S. & P. Nyíri (2015). The Hofstede factor: the consequences of Culture’s Consequences. In N. Holden, S. Michailova & S. Tietze (Eds.) The Routledge Companion to Cross-Cultural Management. London: Routledge, pp. 37-53.

Hoedemaekers, C. & S. Ybema (2015). All of me: Art, industry and identity struggles. In N. Beech & C. Gilmore (Eds.) Music and Management, pp. 172-180.
Ybema, S.B. (2014). The invention of transitions: History as a symbolic site for discursive struggles over organizational change. Organization, 21(4), 496-514.

Kamsteeg, F.H., Ybema, S.B. & Jong, M.B. (2013). Ethnographic strategies for making the familiar strange: Struggling with ‘distance’ and ‘immersion’ among Moroccan-Dutch students. Journal of Business Anthropology, 2(2), 168-186.

Eubanks, D.L., A.D. Brown & S.B. Ybema (2012). Leadership, identity, and ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 107, 1-3.

Ybema, S., M. Vroemisse & A.H. Van Marrewijk (2012). Constructing identity by deconstructing distinctiveness: Building partnerships across cultural and hierarchical divides. Scandinavian Journal of Management 28(1), 48-59.

Yanow, D., S. Ybema & M. van Hulst (2012). ‘Practising organizational ethnography’ in G. Symon & C. Cassell (eds.) Qualitative Organizational Research:Core Methods and Current Challenges, pp. 331-350.

Ybema, S., D. Yanow & I. Sabelis (eds.) (2011) Organizational culture. Volume 1 & Volume 2. (International Library of Critical Writings on Business and Management, 15). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. ISBN: 9781849800471