Organizational Spaces

Organizational Spaces

Rematerializing the Workaday World

Edited by Alfons van Marrewijk and Dvora Yanow

This insightful book poses interesting theoretical and methodological questions for the processes of spatial design and the treatment of workspaces in organizational settings of various kinds. The contributors expertly answer the need for practical field research on spatial settings and materiality in organizations of various sorts.

Chapter 3: Bendable Bars in a Dutch Prison: A Creative Place in a Non-creative Space

Patrick Kenis, Peter M. Kruyen and Joan M.J. Baaijens

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies, research methods in business and management, research methods, research methods in business and management, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Patrick Kenis, Peter M. Kruyen and Joan M.J. Baaijens Traditionally, prisons are unbendable, non-creative places. Because security is their primary function, they are designed to be predictable, and both prisoners’ and officers’ behaviour is standardized (Kommer 1991). In a pilot project, policy-makers and engineers of the Dutch Ministry of Justice designed both the physical space and social structure of the prison with these priorities in mind. As the chapter concerns a politically sensitive project, we have chosen to keep the name of the prison anonymous. In what follows we will call the prison ‘P’. It was the purpose of this pilot to standardize the work processes of the officers even more than they typically are in existing Dutch prisons. However, the officers and supervisor in Prison P reconstructed the social structure and physical space in a way that encouraged considerable team creativity for the officers. This chapter chronicles this evolution. In the first section we introduce Prison P as it was originally conceived and designed by policy-makers and engineers. Next, we introduce the methods we used to study the prison. Then, based on the data we collected and analysed, we demonstrate how the new design enabled the development of creativity in this setting. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for understanding creativity in organizations, while also presenting some limitations of our study and directions for future research. SPACE AND BEHAVIOURAL CONTROL: THE RESEARCH SETTING The idea that a dialectical relationship exists between a type of space and...

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