Rummet som resurs för förändringsarbete
Doctoral thesis, 2001
This thesis focuses on the relationship between spatial and organisational issues, and how they relate to the development of organisations. The objective is to support organisational development by viewing space as a resource in processes of change and development.
The thesis is based on two studies. The first study involved the researcher actively in a project of change at an electronic company, 1994-1995. The second study was carried out as a Post-occupancy Evaluation, POE, in 1998 at an energy utility company.
For a number of years the relationship between spatial and organisational issues has been studied at the Dep. of Space and Process at Chalmers. Through case study research and action research projects it has been investigated in what way spatial issues matter in change processes in organisations. An important step in this research, which is presented in this thesis, has been to develop a model able to explain the interdependencies between the different aspects important to the quality of workplaces. This model is based on four qualitative aspects. The first aspect is the work environment qualities, which has mainly to do with health and safety and the quantative aspects of the work environment. The second aspect is the symbolic and metaphoric qualities of space, which are related to "corporate image" and the identity of the company. This is closely connected to architectural design, but has also input from other professional fields. The third is the dynamic and contextual interdependence between the spatial setting and the everyday actions carried out in the organisation, which I call configuration. The fourth aspect is the quality and degree of participation in the change and design processes.
Findings show that this model can help to explain shortcomings and even failures in workplace design projects. The model can also facilitate understanding and communication regarding the importance and the role of space in design. It is suggested that the key to such understanding is the understanding of the concept configuration that is mainly understood from within the organization. As configuration is subject to constant re-design and transformation in the day to day activities, and therefore can hardly be understood and designed without participation between the organisations' employees and outside expertise, this has implications for work methods.
It is suggested that the model and its terminology is useful for both research and practice, but that it needs an open and continuous discussion. This thesis aims to contribute to this. The results have implications for both professionals and researchers. It has implications on change processes concerning workspace, and on the development of a terminology when discussing the purposefulness and meaning of workplace design.