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Dr Nela Smolovic-Jones

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies at the Open University's Department for People and Organisations. My research focuses on the interface between gender and democratic practice, especially areas such as feminist solidarity building, democratic organising, equality at the workplace and institutional forms of gendered corruption. 

As a PhD researcher, I explored the democratic practice generated via the work of civil sector organisations and passed without corrections. I hold an MA in Development Studies from the University of Auckland and an MRes from The Open University. Prior to embarking upon full-time study, I was an experienced interpreter/translator and election monitor, with an extensive background of working with civil sector organisations.

I have worked in the field of democratic development throughout my professional career. My experience in the monitoring of elections with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and European Network of Election Monitoring Organisations, as well as acting as an interpreter and translator, increased my interest in understanding the ways in which democratic practice can be generated.

Research interests

In terms of democratic practice and equality, I am developing an understanding of gendered experiences in party political organisations and, in relation to this, professional segregation and positive discrimination. 

In relation to equality at work, I am particularly interested in exploring the gendered experiences of women in precarious employment, especially the enactments of reproductive labour within the workplace, relational ethics from positions of precarity and the ways in which employers are capitalising on these. 

My research is informed by: social reproduction theory; participative democracy, agonism and deliberation; feminist theory; performativity; embodiment; ethnography; multimodal and discourse analysis.

Teaching interests

My teaching interests are centred on the research process, ethics, diversity, equality and leadership.

Impact and engagement

I am the founder and director of the research cluster Gendered Organisational Practice. The cluster provides a space in which feminists of any gender can share insights and knowledge from academic study and practice. It has a supportive approach to exploring the issues of gender in relation to workplace exploitation and activism for emancipation in the context of ever-intensifying neoliberal norms and precarity. The cluster also includes a gendered working bodies focus, which studies the intersections between material bodies and the workplace, including the difficulties experienced by workers who menstruate, who have gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and PMDD and who are going through the menopause.


Feminism and Social Movements: Notes on hope and despair (2024)
Smolović-Jones, Nela; Johansson, Marjana; Pullen, Alison and Giritli-Nygren, Katarina
Gender, Work and Organization ((early access))

Strangers in conversation: Judith Butler with gender, work and organization (2024)
Tyler, Melissa; Butler, Judith; Cutcher, Leanne; Milroy, Talila; Lloyd, Moya; Riach, Kathleen; Kenny, Kate; Al‐Amoudi, Ismael; Guschke, Bontu Lucie; Harding, Nancy and Smolović-Jones, Nela
Gender, Work & Organization ((early access))

Gaslighting and dispelling: Experiences of NGO workers in navigating gendered corruption (2023-08-02)
Smolovic-Jones, Nela
Human Relations, 76(6)

Theorising gender desegregation as political work: The case of the Welsh Labour Party (2022-10-01)
Smolović Jones, Owain; Smolović Jones, Sanela; Taylor, Scott and Yarrow, Emily
Gender, Work and Organization, 29(6) (pp. 1747-1763)

Feminist solidarity building as embodied agonism: An ethnographic account of a protest movement (2021-05)
Smolovic-Jones, Sanela; Winchester, Nik and Clarke, Caroline
Gender, Work and Organization, 28(3) (pp. 917-934)

Leadership rebooting: The 19th International Studying Leadership Conference, 15–17 December 2021, brought to you virtually by the Open University (UK) (2021-04-27)
Smolović Jones, Owain; Smolovic-Jones, Sanela; Haslam, Daniel and Barthold, Charles
Leadership, 17(3) (pp. 383-386)

‘I Wanted More Women in, but . . .’: Oblique Resistance to Gender Equality Initiatives (2021)
Smolović Jones, Owain; Smolović Jones, Sanela; Taylor, Scott and Yarrow, Emily
Work, Employment and Society, 35(4) (pp. 640-656)

From “pretty to pretty powerful”: The communicatively constituted power of facial beauty’s performativity (2021)
Hollis, David; Wright, Alex; Smolovic Jones, Owain and Smolovic-Jones, Nela
Organization Studies, 42(12) (pp. 1885-1907)

Understanding sovereign leadership as a response to terrorism: A post-foundational analysis (2020-07-01)
Smolovic Jones, Owain; Smolovic Jones, Nela and Grint, Keith
Organization, 27(4) (pp. 537-556)

Putting the discourse to work: On outlining a praxis of democratic leadership development (2016-09-01)
Smolovic-Jones, Nela; Smolovic Jones, Owain; Winchester, Nik and Grint, Keith
Management Learning, 47(4) (pp. 424-442)

'[PDF] beinghaRasseD?' Accessing information about sexual harassment in New Zealand's universities (2013-12)
Smolovic-Jones, Nela; Boocock, Kate and Underhill-Sem, Yvonne
Women's Studies Journal, 27(1) (pp. 36-48)

Men researching women’s experiences of sexism and discrimination: An impossible position? (2021)
Smolovic Jones, Owain; Smolovic-Jones, Nela; Taylor, Scott and Yarrow, Emily
In: Just, Sine Nørholm; Risberg, Annette and Villesèche, Florence eds. The Routledge Companion to Organizational Diversity Research Methods (pp. 50-58)
ISBN : 9780367211486 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Theorising moral-collaborative leadership, or, direction-less-than-domination: Gramsci and beyond (2014)
Smolovic-Jones, S.; Smolovic Jones, O.; Winchester, N. and Grint, K.
In : 13th International Studying Leadership Conference (14-16 Dec 2014, The Copenhagen Business School)

Performative democratic practice: An ethnographic study of the Women’s Rights Centre in Montenegro (2019-03-12)
Smolovic-Jones, Sanela
PhD thesis The Open University

Feminist Solidarity Building And Working With Difference: The Case Of The Fiji Women’s Forum (2014)
Smolovic Jones, Sanela
mphil thesis University of Auckland