How Aesthetics and Economy Become Conversant in Creative Firms

Robert D. Austin, Daniel Hjorth, Shannon Hessel

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Research on creative organizations often highlights a concern that economic influences on creative work might crowd out aesthetic influences. How this concern can be managed, however, is not well understood. Using a case study of an economic/aesthetic conflict within a design firm, we develop theory to describe how the economic and aesthetic can be constructively combined. We propose the concept of conversation as a way of theorizing a constructed sociality via which creative firms manage this conflict; we also propose the concept of ensemble as a way of theorizing a conversationally nurtured but fragile form of intensified sociality that most successfully combines conflicting influences when it can be achieved. Together, these theoretical conceptualizations contribute new insights and help organize a fragmented landscape of ideas about work in creative firms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1501-1519
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 26. October 2017


  • Conversation
  • Creative economy
  • Creative firms
  • Ensemble
  • Group creativity
  • Organizational aesthetics

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