Management Seminars: Robin Burrow
Dr Robin Burrow (Cardiff Business School)
G.15, 15-19 Tyndall's Park Road, BRISTOL BS8 1PQ
Title: Exceptional places and places of exception
This article uses a spatial lens to progress emerging scholarly discussions about organizational extremity. Drawing on Lefebvre’s (1991) ‘three pronged’ notion of space (e.g. physical, social and mental space) the concept of a ‘place of exception’ is introduced to account for organizational spaces where fantastic, extraordinary and surprising things occur. It is argued that a place of exception has three main ‘pillars’. Firstly, tangible structures and physical boundaries create a sense of distinction amongst inhabitants by partitioning spaces and creating enclosures that (re)enforce the separation of one space (e.g. military barracks) from another (e.g. civil society). Secondly, conditions of anomie suspend and release individuals from conventional social or ethical standards and create the conditions for new relational possibilities. Thirdly, civilising processes refill the anomic void, unifying inhabitants though ideologies that distinguish, define, guide and provide an imperative for action. The nature and broader utility of this concept is illustrated by drawing on research into the work of elite fine dining chefs from around the world. This article helps to explain more fully how and why scenarios and cultures of extreme commitment and practice emerge and endure in organizations.