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Talking about "Organizational Aesthetics": Reflections on the Journal

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This was filmed at the 2016 Association of College and Research Libraries, New England Chapter conference in Manchester, NH on 13 May, 2016 and described in the program, thusly:


Steven S. Taylor, PhD

Exploring Transdisciplinary Understanding and Open Access Publishing: The Case of Organizational Aesthetics

William James (1890) famously referred to the experience of our world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”. Over time we learn to make sense of our life experience in a variety of ways. As educators we pass along these understandings to the students that we teach. We learn to pay attention to some things and not others. We learn to tell ourselves and others stories about what is happening that links things together in narrative chains of events. Stories are an example of how we make sense of the world with art; good science offers us a generalized theory that explains how some aspect of the world works in a cognitive, intellectual way.

Organizational Aesthetics explores these ways of understanding; it is a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal that examines how the five senses and artistry inform business, non-profit, and government organizations. The terms aesthetics and organizational should be understood broadly to include a range of topics. Examples are the use of arts-based methods in organizations, theoretical accounts of aesthetic phenomena in organizations such as beautiful (or grotesque) leadership, and the art about/in/behind organizations.

I will tell the story of why and how this journal came into existence as part of a broader aesthetic turn in social science. I will then discuss in what ways Organizational Aesthetics raises issues about journals in the 21st century, including financial models, the role of libraries and publishers, multi-media, niche markets, academic legitimacy, and un-paid labor.

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