Beyond the visible, the material, and the performative: Shifting perspectives on the visual in Organization Studies

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Visual organizational research has burgeoned over the past decade. Despite an initially hesitant engagement with visuality in organization and management studies, it is now only proper to speak of a ‘visual turn’ in this domain of scholarly inquiry. We wish to take the opportunity provided by the Perspectives format to engage with prominent work published in Organization Studies, in appreciation of the diversity of approaches to the visual in organizational research, and highlight some generative tensions across this body of work. In particular, we have scrutinized six articles based on their treatment of signification (how the visual mode enables meaning-making and meaning-sharing in and around organizations), manifestation (how visual organizational artefacts and their properties relate to affordances), and implication (how visualization practices produce organizational outcomes). Inspired by the frictions and gaps across these articles, we developed three distinct perspective shifts that highlight the importance of the invisible, the immaterial, and the performance within visualization. We conclude with a comparative matrix that maps different conceptualizations of visualization, and suggest opportunities for future research based on how we see the field of visual organizational studies evolving.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1197-1218
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021