Sub-theme 78: Using the Arts to Re-vision Sustainable Ways of Organizing ---> MERGED with sub-theme 35


Call for Papers

Our ways of organizing need to be seen from fresh perspectives in order for business and society to move towards sustainability. As a major shift from the current extractive economic model, sustainable circular economy (CE) requires a systemic transition, an extensive and radical change, in the prevalent societal and business systems (Geels & Schot, 2007). Sustainable circular economy involves re-designing products, services, and business models to minimize waste and to extend the value of products and materials. It requires the inclusion of environmental, social and cultural values along with economic values in the assessment of any operation’s impact. In disrupting the dominant linear logic of economic development, sustainable CE triggers both resistance to change and the imagination to create novel solutions. Such a profound transformation engages with emotions and changes the cultural narratives and worldviews.
The arts can foster the development of new discourses and sense-making in service of organizing for sustainability. The power of visual images as compelling catalysts in the systemic transition has already been manifested in the raised awareness of climate change by images of ocean plastics and polar bears suffering from melting ice. The arts an catalyse systemic transition in encouraging self-motivation of agency, prompting reflection on sustainability issues, creating visions of a sustainable circular economy, designing out waste and pollution, finding ways to keep products and materials in use longer, and regenerating natural systems. Artistic methods and actions can make us see things from a new angle.
This sub-theme aims to foster conversations about ways in which artists and art-based interventions can be utilized to develop new languages and ways of understanding the requirements of sustainable circular economy approaches. Arts-based methods are increasingly utilized in organizational development processes (Taylor & Ladkin, 2009) and have been recognized for their ability to spark innovation (Ibbotson & Darso, 2008) foster greater attentional capacity, (Springborg, 2010), enable individuals to manage their emotions more effectively (Taylor & Statler, 2009) and generate spaces in which people can create alternative visions for new futures (Barry & Meisiek, 2010). Additionally, there is a growing interest in how the arts and art-based interventions can be used to bring about more sustainable ways of living (Dieleman, 2007). In order to develop that stream of inquiry, we invite papers, performances, and artistic research projects, which explore how artistic sensibility and arts-based interventions can be leveraged to help develop more socially and ecologically sustainable ways of organizing our communities, societies, and work organizations.
We imagine topics of interest would include (but not be limited to) areas such as:

  • How can artists help us to rethink organizational dynamics and flows?

  • What is artistic sensibility and how can it help us to rethink business and organizations?

  • Case studies which have applied particular art-based methods to organizational restructuring

  • How can artists and organizational designers speak to one another in productive ways?

  • How do artists conceptualize ‘sustainability’ and how can those ways of conceptualizing it be applied to organizations?

  • How can artistic interventions be applied to particular organizational systems aimed at delivering sustainable ways of operating, such as creating circular economy relationships?

  • Are there particular barriers to artists working with organizations or enablers which can increase their effectiveness?

  • How might arts-based interventions foster engagement from a wide variety of stakeholders in order to create more sustainable futures?


  • Barry, D., & Meisiek, S. (2010): “Seeing more and seeing differently: Sensemaking, mindfulness, and the workarts.” Organization Studies, 31 (11), 1505–1530.
  • Dieleman, H. (2007): “Sustainablity, art and reflexivity: Why artists and designers may become key change agents in sustainability.” European Sociological Association Conference: New Frontiers in Arts Sociology, 1–26.
  • Geels, F., & Schot, J. (2007): “Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways.” Research Policy, 36 (3), 399–417.
  • Ibbotson, P., & Darso, L. (2008): “Directing creativity: The art and craft of creative leadership.” Journal of Management and Organization, 14 (5), 548–559.
  • Springborg, C. (2010): “Leadership as art – Leaders coming to their senses.” Leadership, 6 (3), 243–258.
  • Taylor, S.S., & Ladkin, D. (2009): “Understanding arts-based methods in managerial development.” Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8 (1), 55–69.
  • Taylor, S.S., & Statler, M. (2009): “Material matters: Using media to manage emotion in arts-based learning processes.” Working paper.