Normalizing dirty work: Managerial tactics for countering occupational taint

Blake E. Ashforth, Glen E. Kreiner, Mark A. Clark, Mel Fugate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations


Dirty work refers to occupations that are viewed by society as physically, socially, or morally tainted. Using exploratory, semistructured interviews with managers from 18 dirty work occupations, we investigated the challenges of being a manager in tainted work and how managers normalize taint - that is, actively counter it or render it less salient. Managers reported experiencing role complexity and stigma awareness. Four types of practices for countering taint were revealed: occupational ideologies, social buffers, confronting clients and the public, and defensive tactics. We discuss links between these practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-174
Number of pages26
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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