William James (1890) famously referred to the experience of our world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”. Over time we learn to make sense of our life experience in a variety of ways. As educators we pass along these understandings to the students that we teach. We learn to pay attention to some things and not others. We learn to tell ourselves and others stories about what is happening that links things together in narrative chains of events. Stories are an example of how we make sense of the world with art; good science offers us a generalized theory that explains how some aspect of the world works in a cognitive, intellectual way.
Organizational Aesthetics explores these ways of understanding; it is a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal that examines how the five senses and artistry inform business, non-profit, and government organizations. The terms aesthetics and organizational should be understood broadly to include a range of topics. Examples are the use of arts-based methods in organizations, theoretical accounts of aesthetic phenomena in organizations such as beautiful (or grotesque) leadership, and the art about/in/behind organizations.
I will tell the story of why and how this journal came into existence as part of a broader aesthetic turn in social science. I will then discuss in what ways Organizational Aesthetics raises issues about journals in the 21st century, including financial models, the role of libraries and publishers, multi-media, niche markets, academic legitimacy, and un-paid labor.
Steve Taylor is Professor of Organizational Studies at the WPI Foisie School of Business. His research is focused in two areas: organizational aesthetics and reflective practice. The former applies art-based scholarship and practice to management and organizations. The latter focuses on the ability to analyze our own actions and learn how to be more effective, ethical, and artful as managers and leaders.
His research has been published in academic journals including Organization Studies, Leadership Quarterly, Leadership, Academy of Management Learning and Education, and Journal of Management Studies. Taylor is the author of Leadership Craft, Leadership Art and You’re a Genius: Using Reflective Practice to Master the Craft of Leadership and is the founding editor of the journal Organizational Aesthetics.
Prior to his academic career, Steve was a Captain in the United States Air Force where he worked in weapons system acquisition; the manager of aerospace/defense industry marketing at Project Software & Development, Inc. in Cambridge, MA; the senior manager of consulting services at Multitrak Software Development Corporation in Boston, MA; and Vice President and CFO at Workframe, Inc. in Cambridge, MA.
Steve is also a playwright, whose plays have been performed in England, France, Poland, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Italy, Australia, and the United States. He received a PhD in management from Boston College; an MA in performing arts from Emerson College; and a BS in humanities from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.