The Visual Turn in Organizational Culture: The Pervasive Influence og Visuality

Sergio Lozano Alvarez

Student thesis: Master thesis


The field of visual research is increasingly developing in management studies, however, it requires of integrative efforts to evaluate its impact. The aim of this study is to shed light on the pervasive effect of the visual aspect of artifacts common to all employees in an organization. Therefore, this study is motivated by the influence of visuality on organizational culture, as well as the effect it has on the employee’s identities. It was hypothesized whether there is an actual influence, or visuals are merely the sensory example of organizational culture. Literature on aesthetics demonstrates that it is not the artifact itself what has an effect on the individuals, but the knowledge it evokes. This knowledge is often difficult to articulate or express in words and, hence, it is considered tacit. As is the case in culture and employee’s perception of an organization, aesthetic is about interpretation. Albeit, while the first ones can be collectively negotiated, the aesthetic experience is personal and unique to the person that suffers it. Hence, this research bridges the gap between the visual and the social. By employing qualitative interviews with photo elicitation and the use of observation methods, the researcher collected data that was subsequently analyzed and discussed employing archeological and practice approaches. The findings from this research suggest that the impact of visuality in the organizational culture and identity is more complex than expected. This leads to the conclusion that, firstly, identity or employees’ perception is negotiated between the organization’s official Discourse and the process of sensemaking that employees experience by their aesthetic experience. And secondly, artifacts must be understood as the visible dimension of culture and not as a level, meaning that their interpretation will have a pervasive effect in the interpretation of the culture itself. Subsequently, this paper suggests a new form of approaching artifacts from their visuality and their relevance in organizational culture.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages184
SupervisorsAnna Linda Musacchio Adorisio