The Theatrical in Organizational Atmosphere

Lydia Jørgensen

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    Gernot Böhme claims that architecture produces atmosphere. More and more organizations seek spatial solutions, like innovation labs or open plan offices, to better ‘tune’ into creative or collaborative ways of working. However, the ‘atmospheric’ intentions of organizations often don’t seem to unfold as expected – they even lead to contraproductive effects. My Ph.D.- research - ‘Moving Organizational Atmospheres’ - examines theoretically and empirically how organizational atmospheres work and can be purposefully shaped. Drawing on the understanding of atmosphere presented by Böhme, Hermann Schmitz and Peter Sloterdijk, the project looks at how architecture is designed and the daily performance of organization in physical interiors. Viewing organization as an atmospheric phenomenon is a nascent stream of research, building on interdisciplinary discussions on aesthetics, space, embodied perception and sociality, which presents a different view on organization.
    Architecture as ‘staging atmospheres’ in the neo-phenomenological realm displays immersive spaces forming embodied involvement, whereby stage and participant coperform. Immersive theatre, as discussed by e.g. Josephine Machon, Gareth White and others, resonates with central aspects of this phenomenological approach when discussing embodied aesthetics, participation and the use of physical space. The term immersive theatre, like atmosphere, dismisses performance as representation. Instead it is a fluid understanding relying on sensory attunement to the environment and participants in a coperforming organization of presence. Given that immersive theatre deals with everyday spaces as the environment for performance and as shaping atmosphere both the theoretical and empirical findings from theatre studies present a valuable source for exploring atmosphere empirically in an organizational setting. This paper investigates how perspectives from theatre studies, e.g. immersive theatre, and the use of spatial organization may inform analysis on the workings and shaping of atmospheres in organizations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventStaging Atmospheres - Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 8 Dec 20179 Dec 2017


    ConferenceStaging Atmospheres
    LocationQueen Mary University of London
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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