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 9: Firms in Film: Representations of Organizational Space, Gender and Power

Alexia Panayiotou and Krini Kafiris

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


Alexia Panayiotou and Krini Kafiris Space is the everywhere of modern thought. (Crang and Thrift 2000, p. 1) Organizations have long been represented in Hollywood film. From those which focus on the corporation to those focusing on the small business enterprise, films on firms have explored themes such as entrepreneurial success, corruption, competition, the vicissitudes of careers, and the dehumanizing effects of bureaucratic mega-corporations (Hassard and Holliday 1998). These themes have emerged and have been articulated in different ways, both across and within particular historical periods. Popular culture is a valuable source of knowledge for organizational scholars (Gagliardi and Czarniawska 2006, Bell 2008, Rhodes and Parker 2008). Although there is a tendency to treat representations as something ‘less than real’ or as ‘marginal’ and ‘inadmissible’ objects of research (Rhodes and Westwood 2008, p. 4), researchers should note that organizations are in part understood and experienced by a wide public, including employees and potential employees, through their representations in film (Bordwell 2006), as well as in music (Rhodes 2004), theatre (Rhodes and Westwood 2008) and television (Rhodes 2001); in other words, through narratives and images of organizations in popular culture. Taking the power of popular culture as a given, in this chapter we aim to contribute to emerging work on representations of organizations in popular culture by exploring their representation in six popular Hollywood films. The films are: Wall Street (1987), Big (1988), Working Girl (1988), The Firm (1993), Boiler Room (2000) and Erin Brockovich (2000). In particular, we look at...

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