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Practice innovation as bodily skills: the example of elderly home care service delivery
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
2013 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323, Vol. 20, no 6, 881-903 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Heideggerian strand of organization studies has highlighted important aspects of organizational practices. Because of the emphasis of the practice-oriented approach on routine practice, researchers have taken a special interest in how innovative, improvised action arises. One of the dominant views is that innovative action is the outcome of different variations in everyday practices. Insightful though these studies are, they do not recognize the role of the body in their conceptualization. This article seeks to redress this imbalance by drawing on Merleau-Ponty's (1962) phenomenology, suggesting that the body, as a carrier of practices, is the locus of innovative action. The article proposes that innovative action emerges in our bodily expressive-responsive skilful coping mode. In illustrating this argument, we make use of case study material focusing on practices involving elderly care service provision. We show how the care workers under consideration cope with the demands of their unpredictable work by adapting their bodily expressive-responsive abilities innovatively to emerging situational calls. Practice innovation emerges as the outcome of a tension between what it makes sense for the care workers to do based on the practical intelligibility underlying their own practices, on the one hand, and bureaucratic rules and requirements inscribed in terms of economic rationality and cost-efficiency, on the other. Because bureaucratic rules are perceived as alienating and unethical, innovation would inevitably be a form of resistance. The article specifies this form of practical resistance, concluding with some implications of this approach for organization studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 20, no 6, 881-903 p.
Keyword [en]
Bureaucratic rules, elderly care service delivery, Heideggerian-inspired organization studies, phenomenological approach to practice, practice-based ethics, practice innovation
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84294DOI: 10.1177/1350508412458535ISI: 000329875300006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-84294DiVA: diva2:579525
Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-20 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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