Work Aesthetics Research Group

The Work Aesthetics Research Group at the School of Business and Economics consists of researchers from the fields of Entrepreneurship and Organization Studies with common research interests in the corporeal, sensory, imaginative and experiential facets of work in post-bureaucratic organizations.

Recent developments in organization studies suggest that traditional modes of organizing, such as formal structures and roles, managerial authority and work ethics have in many instances given way to decentralized and deformalized modes of management and control. Often referred to as post-bureaucratic principles, these modes of management and control rely on inclusion of the whole of the employee, for example by encouraging employees to be themselves at work or by welcoming employees' private interests and spheres to enter the workplace. In consequence, work is becoming more and more reliant on aesthetic, i.e. non-cognitive and non-rational, modes of performance, including emotion, identity, and the body of the employee. These developments can be seen in the increasing focus on employee identity and identification, concerns for health and wellness, play and leisure as work, or informal and collaboration-based office design.

Office space: designing for creativity

Office space is crucial for our daily work. It is the physical frame around us that allows us to engage in certain activities in certain ways. But what is more, office space and its design can also create sensual and emotional responses in what we often call the 'atmosphere' of a place. The architecture and design of office spaces have thus become increasingly important for companies both in the private and public sector, but also for researchers in organization and management studies.

Office space can motivate and attract employees, or do the opposite; it can give them the space a certain activity needs to unfold, or it can limit it. For example, in activity-based workplaces, the employees no longer have individual offices and personal desks, but pick a work zone; for instance, the lounge area for informal meetings, a computer desk for writing up a report, or specially designed areas to get inspiration for creative ideas. Moreover, in many instances, the design of activity-based offices incorporates the brand into the design of a showroom or a head office in order to better communicate the brand to existing and prospective employees.

Our research interests revolve around the design of office space, the interplay between office design and employee creativity, and perceptions as well as experiences of working in novel office spaces.

Ongoing research

We are currently working on:

  • A paper on how office spaces are curated by the architects and designers (presented at EGOS 2017 in Copenhagen)
  • A paper on the absence of girlhood aesthetical themes in playful office design (upcoming presentation in November 2017 at the Entrepreneurship Knowledge Platform)
  • A paper on the relationsip between office space, creativity and surveillance

In press and online

Recent feature on Sage Business and Management INK:

Recent publications

Müller, Monika. (2017). ''Brandspeak': Metaphors and the discursive construction of internal branding'. Online first: Organization.

Alexandersson, Anna, and Kalonaityte, Viktorija. (2017). 'Playing to Dissent: The Politics and Aesthetics of Playful Office design'. Online first: Organization Studies.

Müller, Monika. (2017). 'Brand-Centred Control: A study of internal branding and normative control'. Organization Studies 38(7), pp. 895-915.

Müller, Monika. (2017). 'Long-lost: The emotional Side of Identification. Complementing SIT with psychoanalytic insights'. Journal of Management Inquiry 26(1), pp. 3-16.