Despite the growing academic interest in the aesthetic dimensions of organizational life, there is a surprising lack of critical reflection on how to analyse data acquired through organizational aesthetic research. This paper addresses this gap, first by illustrating the analytical challenges that aesthetic research poses. Then, it introduces participatory interpretation as an analytical method, and evaluates it by drawing on an empirical study. What sets this method apart from the other methods traditionally used is its potential (1) to avoid an almost exclusive reliance on the researcher’s interpretation, developing instead an understanding of the aesthetics explored which takes into account both the researcher’s and the actors’ interpretations, and (2) to achieve an understanding of the performativity of the organizational aesthetics under study. The paper concludes by suggesting possible applications of this method in a wide range of other organizational research fields.
- Organizational aesthetics research
- data analysis
- field research methods
- participatory methods
- qualitative methodology