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Beyond Strategy and Tactics: On the Micropolitics of Organisational Aesthetics

Part of the Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse book series (PSDS)

Abstract

The design of office spaces and office architecture has received increased attention over the last decades. However, studies on work organisations predominantly approach the design of work environments from an instrumentalist perspective in which spatial configurations are strategically deployed in order to optimise work performances and increase productivity. Going beyond this instrumentalist view, I develop a concept of the micropolitics of organisational aestheticisation. Drawing on empirical data from a research project on the performativity of contemporary office architecture, I show how the (re-)design of office spaces is a heterogeneous and contingent process. Turning to the micropolitics of office space makes apparent, that organisational spaces with their aesthetics cannot merely be seen as a predetermined technology, strategically instituted by management to subtly “govern” work practices. Instead, institutional space is performed in the transgressive and dynamic interplay of material and discursive pre-figurations and the diverse and contingent practices, interpretations, and subjectifications that emanate from them. The turn to micropolitics and performativity subverts dichotomous distinctions between strategies and tactics from organisational sociology.

Keywords

  • Office architecture
  • Performativity
  • Aestheticisation
  • Micropolitics
  • Work organisations
  • Strategy
  • Tactics

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Quotes from the German corpus and from the ethnography have been translated by the author.

  2. 2.

    Details like names and specifics of the location have been changed to preserve anonymity. For a more detailed account of this case, see Adler (2017).

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Adler, D. (2022). Beyond Strategy and Tactics: On the Micropolitics of Organisational Aesthetics. In: Porsché, Y., Scholz, R., Singh, J.N. (eds) Institutionality. Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96969-1_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96969-1_5

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