Enchanting worlds

It was the social theorist Max Weber who identified progressive disenchantment as an underlying process of modernity. More recently, this creed of modern thinking has increasingly been challenged. Thus, enchantment often evokes the sublime and refers to an aura of authentic presence. Moreover, enchantment has been used as an analytical lense to look at consumer culture as well as new worlds of work. Accordingly, symbolic manipulation is used to enchant customers and employees. Enchanting worlds

Smelly wheels: In search of alternatives

Visual representations of smell are one of the core themes of our presence on Instagram: Wheel, circle, and pie have recently appeared as recurring and influential visual metaphors. The fragrance wheel created by Michael Edwards is perhaps the most prominent example these days. But the history of visualizations demonstrates that this is only one example out of many.  The visual metaphor of the circle or the wheel has been used to classify urine smells. The colour, smell, and even taste of urine was used to both identify particular illnesses and provide patient prognoses, from Hippocrates to the Victorian era. The practice, called uroscopy or uromancy, was, according to the Doctor’s Review, “once the number-one way to diagnose disease — and predict the future”.

Smelly wheels: In search of alternatives


Smell may not seem a profound enough problem to dominate all the life sciences, but it contains, piece by piece, all the mysteries.

– Lewis Thomas

Sensory turn in in management education

Based on our research projects we have been working on developing new teaching offerings from early on. A first attempt was the class Jimmy Schmid invited me to teach in his program on Environmental Communication Design. At this time we were happy to involve Ashraf Osman on this journey. Since 2015, the course on smell culture has been part of the contextual studies at the University of St.Gallen.  

More recently we have even been working on contributions to postgraduate management education. Last fall Bettina Rychener and Claus Noppeney have had the chance to develop and test courses (1-2 days) on leadership and team dynamics for Bern University of Applied Sciences. Smell & Leadership? How? Why? In fact, part of the session deals with the olfactory dimension at the workplace. This theme has recently also been explored by Samantha Warren und Cathleen Riach. The most recent publication on this theme is actually part of the edited volume: Designing with smell! But smell is also used as a perspective on leadership & management issues. Claus Noppeney shared some experiences at the IAO #ExperimentalScentSummit in Berlin in May 2017.

More recently, we have once again expanded the scope of our topics. This time we provided an alternative view on scent marketing that goes beyond the common “success stories” and prejudices. In fact, we took a consumer culture (CCT) approach and share numerous cases. In particular, we explored the potential one product and one olfactory note. Even this limitation allows the students to go on a journey crossing the boundaries of diverse products, services, failures and successes. 

Is there a role for scent in management education? We reflect in this interview on the approach and one specific case. The feedback is pretty encouraging:

Bildschirmfoto 2017-10-20 um 20.53.16

Thank a lot for the valuable feedback!

Ingredient disclosures & stakeholder pluralism

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database is a prominent go-to for all things health when it comes to cosmetics. Last February, Unilever joined this fragrance disclosure scheme. Accordingly, Unilever announced a bold new initiative to provide detailed information on fragrance ingredients for all products in its multibillion-dollar portfolio of personal care brands, including Dove, Noxzema, Lever 2000 and NEXXUS. The announcement was characterized as a major move that could dramatically alter the personal care and fragrance markets.

Ingredient disclosures & stakeholder pluralism