IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Who controls the looking glass? Towards a conversational understanding of organizational theatre


  • Stefan Meisiek
  • David Barry


This paper presents a longitudinal study of interactive organizational theatre. Managers of a large home care organization used 30 instances of organizational theatre over a one year period to effect organizational change. We found that neither management, who had hoped that employees would accept and internalize the messages accompanying the play, nor employees, who used the liminal spaces to express their own take on the organization’s issues, achieved their aims directly. Yet a year later, organizational performance and satisfaction were significantly improved—much of this was attributed to the play. To explain this, we develop a conversational theory of change, one where ‘conversation pieces’ are central. We also speculate on the properties that conversation pieces and conversational systems like organizational theatre must have if they are to effect change.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Meisiek & David Barry, 2005. "Who controls the looking glass? Towards a conversational understanding of organizational theatre," Nova SBE Working Paper Series wp478, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp478

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Organizational change; organizational theatre; liminality; conversation piece;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp478. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Susana Lopes (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.