Organisational Space and Multi-locational Workers: A case study of the Forum Building at the University of Exeter
Date: 24 April 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Management Studies
As businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their ever changing market environments; constraints and opportunities arise which result in organisations evolving and re-structuring accordingly. Therefore, their organisational spaces are evolving to follow suit. A theoretical shift has occurred in OT, from considerations of space ...
As businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their ever changing market environments; constraints and opportunities arise which result in organisations evolving and re-structuring accordingly. Therefore, their organisational spaces are evolving to follow suit. A theoretical shift has occurred in OT, from considerations of space as an ‘organisation’ to ‘organising’ viewing space as processual which involves an understanding of space as something which is continually produced and re-produced through social relations (Dale & Burrell, 2008). While in the past organisational space often referred to the interior space of an organisation, consideration of recent literature demonstrates that organisational space is not limited to the internal, but also includes the external space of an organisational building. The key points of the literature review are centred on the users in the space, as well as the materialisation of power through spatial design and space as an experience. A mixed-method approach of observation, interviews and a questionnaire are used to understand the Forum user; defined here as a form of multi-locational worker. The case study approach on the Forum Building at the University of Exeter is used to position a typology of University open workspaces in the wider context of open, public and communal [OPC] workspaces, with the intention of generating research directions that extend current theory. Key results of this study are the ‘unspoken reciprocity’ among Forum users and the importance of ‘visuality’; the act of seeing while being seen, in motivating individuals. Furthermore, the spatial elements of ‘flexible accessibility’, ‘flexible workspaces’ and active atmosphere are major contributors to making the Forum space an attractive workspace in the current University trend of ‘interdisciplinary spaces’ (Coulson et al., 2014; Temple, 2014). This thesis makes both a theoretical and methodological contribution to the organisational studies literature through the holistic case study approach to viewing organisational spaces. Through a socio-spatial perspective of multi-locational users’ perceptions of their changing everyday working environment, the research provides significant insight into the conceptualisation, design, operations and management of such spaces.
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