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Towards an Architectural Theory of Space and Organisations: Cognitive, Affective and Conative Relations in Workplaces

Sailer, K; Penn, A; (2010) Towards an Architectural Theory of Space and Organisations: Cognitive, Affective and Conative Relations in Workplaces. Presented at: 2nd Workshop on Architecture and Social Architecture, EIASM, Brussels, Belgium. Green open access

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Abstract

Theories of space and the physical reality of organisations have been widely ignored by organisational theory, as Clegg and Kornberger asserted in their 2006 edited volume on „Space, Organisations and Management Theory‟. To contribute to the understanding of the spatiality of organisations and the organisational implications of space, this paper suggests investigating the multiple networks in which people engage. Considering that an organisation can be described as a „social unit with some particular purposes‟ (Shafritz et al. 2005) the basic phenomenon to investigate in organisational theory could be seen as humans and their relationships, aiming to achieve certain goals. Those relationships between people can either be governed by spatial rules, such as proximity or visibility, but also by transpatial rules, which includes conceptual closeness between people such as common preferences, attitudes or behaviours. Drawing on an overview of network related theories of social form, i.e. Social Exchange Theory, Social Network Analysis, Dynamic Network Analysis, Network Science and Actor Network Theory, this paper argues that all of these theories have neglected the role of spatial networks. Space Syntax as theory of spatial configuration will therefore be introduced briefly in order to add a spatial perspective to organisation theory. In a following step it is argued that a paradigmatic theory of space and organisations needs to satisfy and explain both general patterns as well as case particularities. While Space Syntax makes a strong case for detecting general patterns, by and large it lacks a more qualitative perspective. Therefore it is proposed to add yet another layer to the story and explore the missing link between organisational behaviours, transpatial and spatial networks by drawing on cognitive psychology and the classic tripartite classification of mental activities into cognition, affection and conation. Each of these three functions of the mind has implications for relationships between people; they relate to organisational dimensions, such as power, workflows, or shared organisational cultures; and lastly they can be reinforced spatially. For example how departments own areas of a workplace can be understood cognitively as demarcation of territory in the organisation, but they can also be affective in creating a sense of place and belonging. Bringing empirical evidence from various organisational backgrounds like offices and other workplace environments to bear, it will be discussed and interpreted how relationships can form spatially on the one hand, and transpatially based on cognitive, affective and conative functions on the other hand. The initial idea of transpatiality as introduced by Hillier and Hanson in „The Social Logic of Space‟ will be enhanced. Thus the paper lays further foundations for an architectural theory of space and organisation, and offers new perspectives on the spatiality of organisational theory.

Type: Conference item (UNSPECIFIED)
Title: Towards an Architectural Theory of Space and Organisations: Cognitive, Affective and Conative Relations in Workplaces
Event: 2nd Workshop on Architecture and Social Architecture
Location: EIASM, Brussels, Belgium
Dates: 2010-05-26 - 2010-05-27
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1342930
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