“Mindblowing” Workshop on Smelling & Organizing at Tallinn #offegos2018

The 4th Space, Creativity & Organizing Workshop was devoted to the senses – in particular to the sense of smell. 

This ‘off-EGOS’ workshop convened by Boukje Cnossen and Nicolas Bencherki took place at the Eesti Arhitektuurimuuseum in Tallinn on 5th July 2018 and attracted a mixed crowd of more than 30 scholars coming from different orientations in organization studies.  And according to posts on social media it was a “terrific”, “mindblowing”, “great” and “original” experience. If you are interested in pursuing the topic further please get in touch!

Here are some snapshots:

 

Here is the blurb that set the agenda for the workshop:

Exploring olfactory territories: Brave New World?

Collective utopian ideas have aimed at organisations as air conditioning systems that allow for aligning and controlling collective experience and emotions. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), for example, it is Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller of Western Europe who by the way remarks: ”We’ve sacrificed the high art. We have the feelies and the scent organ instead”. In this dystopian world, social life is organised and controlled by inflicting pleasures: an object releasing a ”delightfully refreshing Herbal Capriccio”. Since ancient times, the sense of smell has been known and used for its emotional and mood changing qualities. And in early modern times, social life was even conceptualised as a “miasmic intercourse” (Corbin 1986).

Air design & air conditioning

By now, miasma theories have widely gone out of fashion. Yet, industrial air pollution, chemical weapons, postindustrial air design, as well as the new prevalence of multiple chemical sensitivities, all draw attention to the vital importance of the air condition. Being in the breathable is no longer the ontological situation, as Peter Sloterdijk (2002) observes. Accordingly, making the air condition explicit is the subject of cultural and social studies.

Absence of smell in organisation studies​

Nevertheless, the sense of smell is widely absent in organisation studies. It is mundane, overlooked and silenced. In an effort to venture into the territory of smells and scents, the 4th Space, Creativity and Organising workshop interrogates the role of olfaction in organisational life. What is the role of the sense of smell at the workplace? How can we research organisations as olfactory spaces? What creative methods can be used to elicit olfactory experiences?

Role of senses in organisational research

This year’s workshop aimed at opening up a methodological discussion about the role of the senses in organisational research, both as research tools and objects of study. After previous sessions on space and spacing (Athens), bodies and technologies (Naples), and fiction (Copenhagen), the focus of this fourth edition is on smelling and organising. Contentwise, the workshop built on the academic and consulting work Nada Endrissat and Claus Noppeney have been doing at Bern University of Applied Sciences.

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