Organizational Communication and Materiality

We are interested in the multiple relationships between communication and organising.
Communication is not merely a tool for organizations that becomes visible through texts such as corporate websites or strategy papers. The way we communicate matters for how we get organized; how we coordinate complex tasks, how we make sense of our surroundings, venture into the unknown, or enact control. With our research, we investigate the multiple relationships between communication and materiality in the context of organizations. Materiality thereby includes not only the material things our interactions draw upon – objects, visuals, technical infrastructure, spatial arrangements – but also the way communication leaves a mark on our ways of innovating, knowing and coordinating.

To explore the multilayered interplay between communication and materiality in organizations, we are currently investigating how organizational attention emerges from multiple, situated, and material practices in mundane activities. Here is the link to our project's website:

Knowledge Work and Innovation: Materially Mediated Conversations

We are interested in understanding knowledge work in situations that bear much novelty and ambiguity, such as when organizations embark on an uncharted innovation journey or when they are faced with an incident or breakdown. Within the contexts of biotechnology, healthcare, and creative industries, we conduct research on processes of knowledge creation, translation, and integration as well as on organizational learning.

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The Organizational Production of Space

It has long been recognized that spaces are not merely fixed physical workspaces or “neutral containers” within which organizational live unfolds. Rather, the way we continue to construct organizational space shapes the ways we coordinate our work, how managerial control is exercised, or how we identify with organizations.

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Visual and Video-based Methods

When aiming to explore the material and affective qualities of organizational processes, we are faced with the challenge that spaces, objects and bodies do not announce themselves through verbal language and therefore often remain beyond our analytical gaze. In our research, we inquire into how visual methods - such as photo-ethnographies, video-based methods, or visually mediated participatory methods - can support data collection.

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Jeanne Mengis
Full Professor in Organizational Communication
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +41 58 666 4512