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Affective atmospheres of hope: management model training in public reforms

Renita Thedvall (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to argue that we need to take seriously what affective atmosphere means in public reform. Particular emphasis is put on understanding the mechanisms of hope (Brunsson, 2006) through affective atmosphere (Anderson, 2009) in regards to a management model training course.


Ethnographically, the paper is placed in a Lean coach training course, led by two consultants, in the public care services in a municipality in Sweden. The participants were set to learn the language and techniques of the Lean management model during the course of three training days.


Using affective atmosphere as a theoretical window for how to understand how participants become enthusiastic about public reform, the author puts forward that the enthusiastic, affective atmosphere created in the training room demanded the ingredients of consultants and the mechanism of hope at play. The consultants’ fashioning of the course contributed to the affective atmosphere. But what also triggered the affective atmosphere in the room was the participants’ way of responding, which was much more accidental and founded in the Lean model itself, promising smooth flows and rational organization, and the participants’ ability to keep mechanisms of hope active.


Fotaki et al. (2017) point out that affect has only recently started to be integrated and explored in critical organization studies. Michels and Steyaert (2017) emphasise that affective atmosphere has rarely been used by organization theorists. This is an attempt to contribute to this literature by arguing for the fruitfulness of understanding the mechanisms of hope through affective atmosphere in regards to public management reform. The author also calls attention to the need for ethnographic fieldwork when examining affective atmospheres.



Thedvall, R. (2017), "Affective atmospheres of hope: management model training in public reforms", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 87-99.



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