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Inter-play(ing) – embodied and relational possibilities of “serious play” at work

Wendelin Küpers (ICN Business School Nancy Metz, Nancy, France)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 13 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of embodied dimensions and relational possibilities of (serious) play at work. It shows how a phenomenological and processual approach can help in developing an integral understanding of (serious) play and its paradox in relation to work and practical wisdom and professional artistry in organizations.


Based on the literature review and phenomenology, the role of embodied dimension, and the nexus of playful practitioners, practices and playgrounds are discussed. Systematically, then the concept of “inter-playing” is proposed as a specific embodied and processual practice. Subsequently, the in-between is shown to be a medium and transrelational nexus for (serious) play that allows a more comprehensive understanding and implications.


Based on the phenomenological and relational approach, the concept of (inter-)play allows an extended understanding of serious play and its paradox as a form of an inter-practice. The mediating in-(ter-)between is revealed as decisive for playful practices and playgrounds in organizations. Serious play is linked to practical wisdom and professional artistry in organizations.

Research limitations/implications

Specific theoretical and methodological implications for exploring and enacting play are offered. It is suggested to take research itself as a form of inter-practice and to enact a more integral epistemology and methodological pluralism, including body-related and art-based approaches and critical issues.

Practical implications

Some specific practical implications are provided that facilitate and enable embodied play and play-spaces in an ongoing, arts-based learning and development process in organizational and educational contexts.

Social implications

The corporeality of responsive inter-play is seen as connected to sociality and social interaction as self and others are considered as a nexus. In particular, poetic phrónêsis in professional playful practice is linked to social creativity that includes attention and recognition of others and otherness as well as social inclusivity.


By extending the existing discourse and using an embodied approach, the paper proposes a novel orientation for re-interpreting serious play. Equally, it offers the new processual concepts of inter-play and inter-practice that allow more explorations and connections to discourses and practices of phronesis and art(istry).



Küpers, W. (2017), "Inter-play(ing) – embodied and relational possibilities of “serious play” at work", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 993-1014.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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