Sub-theme 13: Organizational Space and Beyond; The Significance of Henri Lefebvre for Organizational Studies


Dr. Sytze F. Kingma, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dr. Varda Wasserman, Open University of Israel
Dr. Kevin Morrell, Warwick Business School, UK

Call for Papers

The breadth and depth of Henri Lefebvre’s (1901-1991) work offers great scope to reimagine scholarship in organization studies. As the “spatial turn” in organizational research exposed the importance of aesthetics and spatial design in inducing power and cultural relations, Lefebvre’s critical perspective has become an inspiring, contemporary theoretical framework from which to examine organizations and organizational actors.

Especially Lefebvre’s theory on the production of space (Lefebvre 1991) and, to a lesser extent on the everyday have already been adopted in organizational studies (Clegg & Kornberger 2006; Dale & Burrell 2008; Kingma 2008; Morrell 2012; Taylor & Spicer 2007; Wasserman and Frenkel 2011; Watkins 2005). His distinction between “conceived space”, “perceived space” and “lived space” paves the way for further exploration of organizations as sites where power and culture are challenged, negotiated, resisted and altered as space itself is produced.

We invite papers that will collectively develop a broader understanding of Lefebvre’s relevance to organizational studies. We welcome theoretical or empirical contributions which make reference to Lefebvre and encourage a variety of themes, perspectives andn methodological approaches, in order to allow an inter-disciplinary discussion.

Topics appropriate to our track include, but are not restricted to:

  • Identities, identity work and space, including ethnic, gender and professional identities;
    mechanisms of gender segregation and ethnic division in modern organisations. 2
  • Bureaucracy and the Everyday in contemporary organisations: we would welcome detailed
    ethnographies or conceptual accounts of aspects of routinization which disguise power
    relations and hinders resistance.
  • Discourses of architecture and management, including the similarities and differences
    between them, their role in conceptualizing the logics of organisational designs and the
    power relations constructed by these discourses.
  • New technologies and new organisational spaces – non-traditional organizing of spaces,
    outdoor workspaces, the effect of new spaces on labor relations, new spaces as temporary
    agencies, network links and virtual organisations.
  • Based on Lefebvre’s slogan ‘the right to the city’ (which signals new possibilities for social
    space and moments of transformation) – what implications does this have for organisation
    studies or employment relations, can there be a ‘right to the organisation’?
  • Conceived space and relations between architectural production processes and implicit or
    explicit ideas and ideologies behind the material construction of organisational formations.
  • Connections between various scale levels, ranging from local (workplace) to mezzo
    (organisational) to macro or global level.
  • Resistance in contemporary capitalism – emotions aroused by different organisation
    spaces, spatial disruptions and memes, alternative discourses and interpretations of the
    controlled space, spatial negotiations and daily practices undermining the “conceived
  • Relations between spaces and bodies – the effect of material artifacts and technologies on
    bodily practices, the embodiment of architectural and managerial ideas, the aesthetic
    manifestations of the modern era and their corporeal implications.


Clegg, Stewart R., and Martin Kornberger. 2006. Space, Organizations and Management Theory: Copenhagen Business School Press.
Dale, Karen, and Gibson Burrell. 2008. The Spaces of Organisation & the Organisation of Space. Power, Identity & Materiality at Work. New York: Palgrave.
Kingma, Sytze. F. 2008. “Dutch casino space or the spatial organization of entertainment.” Culture and Organization no. 14 (1):31-48.
Lefebvre, H. 1991. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell.
Morrell, Kevin. 2012. “Policing Contested Space: A memetic perspective’, a paper presented at the Seventh Organization Studies Summer Workshop on “Organizations as Spaces of Work”, Rhodes, Greece.” Seventh
Organization Studies Summer Workshop on “Organizations as Spaces of Work, 23-26 May, Rhodes, Greece.
Taylor, Scott, and Andre Spicer. 2007. “Time for space: A narrative review of research on organizational
spaces.” International Journal of Management Reviews no. 9 (4):325-346. 3
Wasserman, Varda, and Michal Frenkel. 2011. “Organizational Aesthetics: Caught Between Identity
Regulation and Culture Jamming.” Organization Science no. 22 (2):503-521.
Watkins, Ceri. 2005. “Representations of Space, Spatial Practices and Spaces of Representation: An Application of Lefebvre’s Spatial Triad.” Culture and Organization no. 11 (3):209-220


Kevin Morrell is an Associate Professor of Governance at Warwick Business School. Central
questions in his latest book, Organization, Society and Politics: An Aristotelian
Perspective, relate to governance and “public good”. His paper ‘What Is Governance In The
‘Public Interest’? The Case Of The 1995 Property Forum In Post-Conflict Nicaragua’ won the
Haldane Prize in Public Administration 2012. Kevin draws on Lefebvre to study links between
space, order and policing.

Varda Wasserman is a senior lecturer at the Open University of Israel in the department of
Management and Economics. She is an organizational sociologist interested in organizational
aesthetics and embodiment and their gender implications. Juxtaposing insights from the fields of
architecture and critical management, she focuses on Henri Lefebvre’s insights to better
understand organizational daily practices that maintain and perpetuate power relations.

Sytze F. Kingma is senior lecturer at the department of Organization Sciences of the VU
University Amsterdam. His research interests involve the confrontation between the “material” and
the “virtual” dimensions of organizational networks, and the way “risk” is implicated in
contemporary organizational contexts. Kingma is the editor of Global gambling: Cultural
perspectives on gambling organizations (Routledge, 2010).

Posted On: June 8, 2014
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