Stefan Meisiek, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Mary Jo Hatch, Gothenburg University, Sweden, and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Laurene Vaughan, RMIT University, Australia
What can art, design and organization studies learn from one another? What can they achieve together? And where are their boundaries, when a growing number of organization scholars draw on design thinking (e.g. Liedka & Mintzberg, 2000; Boland & Callopy, 2004; Ravasi & Rindova, 2008) and artistic processes (e.g. Barry, 1994; Austin & Devon, 2003, Monthoux, 2004) to explain contemporary organizational phenomena? To answer such questions, this SWG will forge links between those interested in the crossroads between art, design and organization. Though these fields share many interests – creative approaches to management, organization design, and service delivery, to name but a few – it is not obvious how art, design and organization relate in detail, and how their combined force relates to existing streams of research in organization studies like sensemaking, interpretivism, the practice turn, organizational identity, innovation, entrepreneurship, or leadership, or in what ways it can open new lines of inquiry.
Design is enjoying growing attention these days. It seems that its functional orientation towards new products and services gives it face validity among organization scholars and particularly among practitioners. Management, strategy, and innovation processes have already been revisited from a design perspective. Furthermore, a number of business schools offer design thinking courses and studios (Rotman Design Works, Stanford D-School, Case Western Managing as Designing, Aalto University, Gothenburg University Business and Design Lab). Having said this, the link to organization theory remains underdeveloped. This might not be much of a problem as long as design is about new products and services. However, as design thinking goes increasingly beyond this narrow focus and into organizational identity, culture, and design, the question of how design relates to organization theory becomes a pressing one.
Even though art and design are sometimes described as similar in methods and perspectives, the relationship between art and organization studies started from nearly an opposite direction. It was organizational inquiry that brought scholars and practitioners to art, seeing it as a way to help them. We have seen many different business schools draw on artistry and artworks to teach about organizational phenomena and concepts (see Adler, 2006). Further, there is a growing body of academic research describing arts-based interventions in organizations, not for teambuilding or entertainment, but to take the whole human being into account, and to help make organizations more adaptable and lifeful. While the results of such interventions are interesting, their power and potential dangers can be grasped only when placed into the context of organization theory.
Whether through new products and services, or through organizational inquiry, design and art are making their way into the core concerns of organization studies. It is the aim of this SWG to take stock of these developments and to use the EGOS community to encourage interested scholars to take a steeper climb to more satisfying scholarly vistas than we have seen so far. Along the way we will have to meet a number of challenges.
Following Cassirer (1944) we might say that art, design and organization studies can talk to one another, but they don't speak the same language. For example, artists working with organizations to create works for the professional arts community add their voice to those of popular management wisdom and academic studies of organizations without blending with them. Each discipline therefore maintains its own way of knowing. Attempts to bring them all firmly onto the ground of organization studies risks stamping out the rich undercurrents that inform art and design processes.
Thus, one of the challenges in bringing art and design into organization studies is methodological. Art and design typically take place in the studio, and are certainly taught using studio methods, while organization studies is much more analytically oriented. It is not clear that an analysis of art or design processes or outcomes will take us into the realms of emotion and aesthetic sensibility within which art and design make their most impressive contributions. Thus employing methods familiar to organizational researchers may prove inadequate to the task of realizing the potential in art and design to contribute uniquely to organization studies. Yet another challenge is that of theorizing art and design from the point of view of organization studies. A number of artists and designers have produced theories of their own. We might think of Brecht's alienation effect, Beuys' social sculpture, or Kelley's ideas on design thinking. These ideas, however, seem to invite alternative interpretations rather than excluding them, as conventional theory does. But they are artistic theories in their own right and deserve closer scrutiny to understand how they work and what they contribute.
The question therefore is, how might theories of art and design inform or complement or at least compare to scientific theories at the crossroads between design, art and organization?
Yet another challenge is that of theorizing art and design from the point of view of organization studies. A number of artists and designers have produced theories of their own. We might think of Brecht's alienation effect, Beuys' social sculpture, or Kelley's ideas on design thinking. These ideas, however, seem to invite alternative interpretations rather than excluding them, as conventional theory does. But they are artistic theories in their own right and deserve closer scrutiny to understand how they work and what they contribute. The question therefore is, how might theories of art and design inform or complement or at least compare to scientific theories at the crossroads between design, art and organization?
The aim of the SWG is
Adler, Nancy (2006): "The Arts & Leadership: Now That We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do?"
Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5 (4), 486–499. Austin, Rob, & Lee, Devin (2003): Artful Making. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Prentice Hall.
Barry, David (1994): "Making the invisible visible: Symbolic means for surfacing unconscious processes in organizations." Organizational Development Journal, 12, 37–48.
Boland Jr., Richard, & Collopy, Fred (2004): Managing as Designing. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Cassirer, Ernst (1944): An Essay on Man. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Liedka, Jeanne, & Mintzberg, Henry (2006): "Time for design." Design Management Review, 7 (6), 10–18.
Monthoux, Pierre Guillet de (2004): The Art Firm: Aesthetic Management and Metaphysical Marketing. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Ravasi, Davide, & Rindova, Violina (2008): "Symbolic value creation." In: Daved Barry & Hans Hansen (eds.): New Approaches in Management and Organization. London: Sage, 270–284.
Stefan Meisiek is Associate Professor of Leadership at Copenhagen Business School, and a visiting professor at the School of Economics and Management, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He received his PhD in Management from the Stockholm School of Economics, and his MA from the Free University, Berlin. Further, he has been a visiting scholar at NYU Stern, ESADE, Stanford University, Learning Lab Denmark, and MIT. His research interests concern mainly ideation, entrepreneurial reasoning, design thinking and arts-based approaches to organizational change. In 2007 he was awarded the Imagination Lab Foundation/EURAM (European Academy of Management) Award for Innovative Scholarship. Stefan is a co-organizer of EGOS 2010 in Lisbon, and has organized two EGOS subthemes so far.
Mary Jo Hatch is C. Coleman McGehee Eminent Scholars Research Professor, Emerita of Banking and Commerce, University of Virginia, USA and currently Adjunct Professor, School of Management, Boston College, USA; Adjunct and Visiting Professor, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark; and Visiting Professor, School of Business Economics and Law, Business and Design Lab, Gothenburg University, Sweden. She received her PhD in Organization from Stanford University and her MBA in Finance from Indiana University. She is a past officer of the Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division of the Academy of Management and has attended many EGOS conferences.
Laurene Vaughan is Associate Professor of Design and Communication in the School of Media and Communication. In addition to her research leadership in the School, Laurene is also co-Research Leader of the Geoplaced Knowledge Program in the RMIT Design Research Institute. Laurene is one of the founding members of MCD Studio. This is a research cluster that explicitly explores practice-based investigations across the fields of media, communication and design. Laurene's research is founded in her practice as an artist, designer and educator. Through her research she endeavours to explore and present comment on the interactive and situated nature of human experience, she is fascinated by what it means to be in the world and the methods we use to enable and articulate this. Her research methods include both actual and digital interventions. Laurene regularly publishes and exhibits her research outcomes internationally. She recently co-curated New Views 2 Exhibition and Symposium, originally presented at London College of Communication and subsequently exhibited at Melbourne Museum (November 2008–February 2009).