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A visit to the “Great Ghaytez's palace”: A case study in using a literary genre to explore the effects of corporate architecture

Ann Rippin (University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 18 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore corporate buildings as discursive entities. They are machines designed to tell the corporate story; they embody the aspirations of a culture. This is particularly the case with headquarters buildings, which are rhetorical artefacts proclaiming a narrative of identity, designed to legitimise past, present and future decisions and strategies. Buildings such as the Vatican, Windsor Castle, the Houses of Parliament and the old Prudential Insurance Building proclaim that the organisation is old and venerable, trustworthy, a model of probity, stable, and here to stay.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach employed in this paper uses literature as a way of representing organisations. This paper works with an archaic genre to present a traveller's tale. This has been used to attempt to open up a third space between literary techniques used to analyse organisations and literature as a management education strategy. By opening up this possibility of a third position, it is hoped that readers will be encouraged to make their own interpretations.

Findings

The paper posits that organisations attempt to affirm their “brand” consciously, or unconsciously, through their public buildings. They tell their “stories” materially. However, despite their best efforts at image control, counter‐narratives leach out from these structures as their use of space is experienced by human subjects.

Originality/value

The paper attempts to open up a third space for readers to co‐create meaning with the author and for themselves. There is a clear political purpose here: to expose the oppressive practices of organisations which legitimate their existence in part at least through their corporate buildings, but the paper also signals the aesthetic delight, the pleasure that we can take in allowing ourselves to be enchanted by these buildings.

Keywords

Citation

Rippin, A. (2011), "A visit to the “Great Ghaytez's palace”: A case study in using a literary genre to explore the effects of corporate architecture", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 720-732. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811111175715

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited