Intimacy as Structure in Dissonant Change

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In this paper, we explore a retail company struggling with a radical change in its business environment known as the retail apocalypse. In order to survive, the company has shifted towards management practices used for modernizing and leaning operations. We study the sociomateriality and affordances of these practices and argue that they increase intimacy in the company in different ways. We identify the types of intimacy that emerge from the practices as proximal, symbolic, emotional, and virtual, and that they emerge in top-down, horizontal, new media, and empowering practices. These findings help us understand in three ways the consequences of implementing hierarchy-discarding management practices under conditions of dissonant change. First, we show these practices create intimacy in the organization through their affordances. Second, we discuss the implications of increasing intimacy for organizing, as it requires a commitment from the management side but no similar commitment from the employees. Third, we highlight the consequences of intimacy for organizations struggling with fast and uncertain changes in the business environment: a lack of clear leadership, strong silos between teams and departments, and a continuous need to update the company’s internal new media in order to demonstrate commitment."
Original languageEnglish
ProceedingAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)11637
Publication statusPublished - 29.07.2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management: Broadening our Sight - Virtual
Duration: 07.08.202011.08.2020
Conference number: 80


  • 512 Business and Management

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising


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