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UAL Research Online

Visual Communication and Organisational Change: Interdisciplinary Approaches Linking Arts, Communication and Management

Roberts-Bowman, Sarah (2015) Visual Communication and Organisational Change: Interdisciplinary Approaches Linking Arts, Communication and Management. In: EUPRERA Annual Congress. The Management Game of Communication: How PR/ Corporate Communication Supports Organizations and What Communicators Can Learn from Management Disciplines, 1-3 October 2015, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Roberts-Bowman, Sarah

This paper connects research that explores arts-based organisational initiatives with the theory and practice of change management. It synthesises arts and management concepts that relate to change communications with a specific focus on workarts. It suggests that arts and visual-based communication can act as a form of knowledge translation and sensemaking helping organisations to embed the change process. In particular, it argues that public relations can be explored as translational practice a term that is now seen to be travelling as suggested by Bachmann-Medick (2009) from pure Translation Studies into other discipline areas and first articulated in an organisational change context by Czarniawska-Joerges and Sevon (1996).

It asks three key questions:
• Can visual communication be better used to help embed the change process
• How does the specific concept of workarts contribute to sensemaking and change
• What value is the concept of knowledge translation to public relations and internal communications specifically

The research reflects on how Orbit Housing, one of the UK’s leading housing associations, integrated the concept of visual communications and workarts into their reorganisation and cultural change initiatives between 2010 and 2013. Orbit operates in the Midlands, East and South East England and parts of London and is responsible for providing and servicing a range of social housing stock. It currently employs around 1500 people. In the last few years, the social housing sector has been impacted by two key concerns: firstly, some housing commentators and policy makers view housing associations as part of the problem not part of the solution to solving the lack of affordable housing in the UK; and secondly the reduction in government funding to the sector. This prompted Orbit to transform the way it approached its business with a focus on providing better housing choices and building communities. This needed to be underpinned by a dynamic internal culture driven by putting Orbit customers at the heart of decision making, maximizing efficiency and better using resources through a more commercial approach.

The study takes a phenomenological exploratory case study approach through interviews to understand the impact that participatory workarts can have on the change communication process. Such an approach allows the gathering of rich data and the exploration of employees as social actors in the change process. The paper presents a model for integrating workarts into change programmes and how it contributes to effective change communication processes releasing employee commitment and engagement. The limitations of this study are related to the scope of the research – a UK-focused case study. Further studies in different cultural contexts need to be explored and perhaps longitudinal studies developed to look at longer-term impacts of participatory workers

This research is relevant from three perspectives. Firstly, change management is now seen as a critical communications and senior management skill (Cornelissen, 2011; Quirke, 2008). It is important that research continues to provide additional insight and evidences to help communicators and senior management teams deliver organisational change effectively. In many respects in builds on the work of van Vuuren and Elving (2008) who suggest that communication, sense making and change are interconnected.

Secondly, by integrating and synthesising scholarship from different fields of study the concept of change can be explored from an interdisciplinary perspective providing fresh insights.

Thirdly, idea of communication as a form of knowledge translation is under-explored in public relations, internal communication and employee engagement literature and this paper hopes to contribute to filling this gap.

Taken together, this paper aims to bring fresh conceptual and contemporary insights to the subject of change communications and provides practical applications.

Official Website: http://euprera2015.no/
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 1 October 2015
Event Location: BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2015 17:15
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2016 12:08
Item ID: 8489
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/8489

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