The Socio-materiality of Designing Organizational Change

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the managerial implications of adopting a design attitude to organizational change.
Design/methodology/approach – Based on an ethnographic study of a merger, the paper investigates the intricate interplay between architectural design and organizational change in the context of physically relocating an organization to a new office building. Emphasis is given to the socio-materiality of this double design process.
Findings – The data suggests that taking a design attitude toward managing organizational change can allow different actors to participate in organizational design processes, releasing management from its traditional role as the keeper of the design solution.
Research limitations/implications – Although based on a single case, the paper provides insights into the socio-materiality of organizational change that is relevant in other settings where developing new collective understandings of change processes are needed.
Practical implications – A design attitude allows for multiple contributions to organizational change processes that can help reduce anxiety among those involved. The approach calls for openness, experimentation and the ability to balance different concerns. It can provide new ways of attending to resistance and produce valuable inputs to shaping organizations.
Originality/value – This study contributes to the growing research on the role of material artifacts in organizational studies by providing a detailed account of organizational change as a socio-material achievement.
TidsskriftJournal of Organizational Change Management
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)391-406
StatusUdgivet - 2014


  • Organizational change
  • User participation
  • Architectural design
  • Managing as designing
  • Material artifacts