Sub-theme 38: Re-membering Embodiment and Organization

Wendelin M. Küpers
Massey University, New Zealand
Karen Dale
Lancaster University, UK
Melissa Tyler
Loughborough University, UK

Call for Papers

The very word 'organ-ization' evokes the human body, yet much of organization studies involves a forgetting, even, at times, a severing of embodiment from the realm of organization (Dale, 2001; Leder, 1990; Shilling, 1993). Following the embodied turn in social and organizational science (Hassard, et al., 2000, p. 12; Hanock et al., 2000; Dale, 2001; 2005; Dale & Burrell, 2000, Küpers 2008; 2009) this stream invites contributions for developing an understanding of embodied re-connection in organizing and organization.

How does the body play an integral role in the life-worlds of organizing and managing? What would it imply to interpret organizations as 'in-corporations', that is as embodied realities? In other words: how can we understand organization and its management from an embodied point of view?

Starting from these questions, we invite philosophical, theoretical or empirical contributions on any topic related to the study of re-embodied organizing. Pursuing an open agenda, we welcome diverse viewpoints, a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches and work from different disciplinary, inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives. The following are some suggestions, by no means exhaustive, of issues relevant to the reconnection of embodiment and organization:

Ontology, epistemology and methodology

  • How might organization theory be re-embodied? For example, what contribution does Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and ontology (1995, 2002) offer for approaching re-embodied organizational life-worlds as well as research practices by rearticulating and 're-membering' an account of the lived body?
  • How might theory and research practice include the role of bodily and sense-based or sensual processes in organizing and organizations?
  • What would it imply to theorize or empirically investigate re-embodied organizing as an individual, collective and/or relational phenomenon or event?
  • What implications would an embodied research and methodology entail? What are the effects and consequences of a more integrative and balanced understanding of embodied reconnection?
  • How can embodied reconnection be interpreted in more process-oriented ways that stress ongoing performance and be(com)ing, rather than static knowledge as a 'state of having'? How can an embodied perspective contribute to understanding tacit or narrative knowing?

Potential topics on embodied organizational practice

  • What are the relationships between body and embodiment and the material, sensual, spatial, emotional, social and historical/temporal conditions and processes as well as situated actions in which they occur and unfold in organizations?
  • How are 'connecting' and 'disconnecting' related and how can an embodied perspective bridge the duality between the two across multiple dimensions of connectivity, including: geo-physical, technical, interpersonal, group, organizational, networks, economic, cultural, political and philosophical (Kolb, 2008)? How are the specific attributes which constitute the qualities of connectivity – like latent potentiality, temporal intermittency, actor agency and unknowable pervasiveness (Kolb, 2008) – related to embodiment?
  • How can relational or process-oriented approaches help exploring the 'spaces in-between' in embodied organizational practices?
  • What significance does an embodied approach offer for reflecting about play, improvisation, art and aesthetics for organizing?
  • To what extent can embodied reconnection be associated with 'positive' phenomena such as appreciation, happiness, eudaimonia and/or well-being in organizations?
  • What is the relevance of a living body and embodiment for a post-Cartesian understanding of ambiguous non-linear processes and complexities related to management and organization? What are the possible links to system theory and complexity theory or advanced cognitive and neuro-science? What are connections between (information and communication) technologies and embodiment in organizations?
  • What political and gender issues are involved in terms of body politics, embodied conflicts and problems related to power and control? In which ways can the body and embodiment be misused or have negative, counter-productive shadow sides? – What might an embodied ethics, based upon work of a more responsive, responsible and sustainable organizing look like?


The stream aims to serve as a forum and itself a 'body of context', which can provide a fertile ground for scholarly work that not only challenges current reductionist approaches, but offers timely and relevant perspectives on a more integrated understanding and sustainable practices of re-embodied organising and managing. Thus, we hope to facilitate the stream as a workshop, with opportunities for in-depth discussion, rather than just the presentation of papers. This implies that all participants become familiar and engage with all the papers, and for this we aim to make these accessible on the conference website one month in advance.
This workshop format allows for an intense, three-day immersion in this area of research and provides opportunities for joint thinking, profound conversation and co-creative learning within a group of genuinely connected colleagues.


Dale, K. (2001): Anatomising Embodiment and Organization Theory. London.
Dale, K. (2005): "Building a Social Materiality: Spatial and Embodied Politics in Organizational Control." Organization, 12, 649-78
Dale, K. & G. Burrell (2000): "What shape are we in? Organization theory and the organized body." In: J. Hassard, R. Holliday & H. Willmott (eds.): Body and Organization. London: Sage, 15-30.
Hancock, P., W. Hughes, K. Paterson, K. Russell, E. Tulle & M.J. Tyler (2000): The Body, Culture and Society: An Introduction. Milton Keynes Open University Press.
Hassard, J., R. Holliday & H. Wilmott (2000): Body and Organization. London: Sage.
Kolb, D. (2008): "Exploring the metaphor of connectivity: Attributes, dimensions and duality." Organization Studies, 29 (1), 127-144.
Küpers, W. (2008): "Embodied 'Inter-Learning'. An Integral Phenomenology of Learning in and by Organizations." The Learning Organization: An International Journal, 15 (5), 388-408.
Küpers, W. (2009): "The Sense-Making of the Senses, Perspectives on embodied aiesthesis & aesthetics in Organising." aesthesis: international journal of art and aesthetics in management and organizational life, 2 (II), 33-53.
Leder, D. (1990): The Absent Body. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1995): The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002): Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge [orig. 1945, Phénoménologie de la Perception, Paris, Gallimard].
Shilling, C. (1993): The Body and Social Theory. London: Sage.
Williams, S.J. & G. Bendelow (1998): The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues. London: Routledge.


Wendelin M. Küpers 
Karen Dale 
Melissa Tyler