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