Process studies of organizational space

Kathleen A. Stephenson*, Ari Kuismin, Linda L. Putnam, Anu Sivunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The past decade has experienced an increase in the number of studies on organizational space or where work occurs. A number of these studies challenge traditional views of organizational space as a fixed, physical workspace because researchers fail to account for the spatial dynamics that they observe. New technologies, shifting employee-employer relations, and burgeoning expectations of the contemporary workforce blur boundaries between home and work, connect people and things that historically could not be linked, and extend workspaces to nearly everywhere, not just office buildings. Research on these transformations calls for incorporating movement into the physicality of work. Thus, organizational scholars have turned to process studies as ways to examine the dynamic features that create and alter spatial arrangements. However, the rapidly growing work in this area lacks integration and theoretical development. To address these concerns, we review and classify the organizational literature that casts space as a process, that is, dynamically as movements, performances, flows, and changing routines. This review yields five orientations of organizational space scholarship that we label as developing, transitioning, imbricating, becoming, and constituting. We discuss these orientations, examine how they relate to key constructs of organizational space, and show how this work offers opportunities to theorizing about organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-827
Number of pages31
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


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