Aesthetics and organization: studying interaction and resistance




Contemporary aesthetic theory has informed research on management, lead- ing to the emergence of a research field “organisational aesthetics”. Emphasizing the aesthetic nature of organisations, it challenges traditional positivist and quantitative management views. This essay sketches the development of the field that started with the use of art metaphors as heuristic instruments (organizations as theatre, jazz band, dance). This led to the exploration of actual aesthetic interactions in organizational, marketing, and leadership situations. Management research has benefited from an aesthetic perspective which opened up many opportunities to analyse interaction and resistance that take place on the sensual dimension, and not on the rational sphere of an organization. In the most recent step, aesthetic methods for research and the presentation of findings have been introduced and are being deployed. As a future perspective, research may become more even aesthetic also in method and form to open up new ways to interactively negotiate meaning and impact.