Art, artist, and aesthetics for organizational visual strategy

Authored by: Pierre Guillet de Monthoux

The Routledge Companion to Visual Organization

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415783675
eBook ISBN: 9780203725610
Adobe ISBN: 9781135005474


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What are the underlying implications in seeing organizations as art? Are artists participants in such visual organizing, and, if so, how do they engage in the process? In organization studies, questions pertaining to art and artists gained relevance when the aesthetic angle began to gain respectability as a valid benchmark for sizing up the visual in organizing (Ramirez 1991; Strati 1999; Linstead and Höpfl 2000; Guillet de Monthoux 2004). Although studies of organizational ‘symbols’ and ‘culture’ touched upon the subject first, it was when organization scholars began to take ‘aesthetics’ seriously that art and artists became central to their work (e.g. Strati 2009). In the 1980s, it took future organizational strategy professor Rafael Ramirez considerable effort to make his thesis supervisor Eric Trist – at the time ‘guru’ of the dominating social systems approach – accept his pioneering doctoral work on organizational beauty in organization studies (Ramirez 1991). Eventually, however, the ‘aesthetic turn’ in organization studies made fields traditionally associated with the humanities and liberal arts relevant to organization scholars as well. But how can philosophy, art history, and details from contemporary art scenes inform our investigation and understanding of the visual strategies for organizing?

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