Torkild Thanem

Torkild Thanem
Stockholm University | SU · School of Business

PhD

About

68
Publications
31,275
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1,050
Citations
Citations since 2016
28 Research Items
746 Citations
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Introduction
Torkild Thanem is Professor of Management & Organization Studies at Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University and a visiting professor of Work Life Research at the University of Agder. In his research Torkild seeks to understand how our bodies are entangled with work, life and politics in the contemporary workplace. His current project seeks to understand what it is like to live and work in a performance culture where management assume that fit employees perform better.

Publications

Publications (68)
Article
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The worldwide spread of work‐related mental unhealth suggests that this is a major problem affecting organizations and employees on a global scale. In this paper, we therefore provide a thematic review of the literatures that address this issue in management and organization studies (MOS) and related fields. While these literatures examine how empl...
Chapter
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The final version of this manuscript is forthcoming as a chapter in the anthology Schizoanalysis and Trans Studies, edited by Ciara Cremin (London: Bloomsbury). Transvestism is dead. You shouldn't call someone a transvestite. You shouldn't be one. Even transvestites have stopped calling themselves transvestites. I should know. For a number of years...
Article
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When inviting contributions to a special issue of this journal titled ‘Management Learning and the Unsettled Humanities’ the guest editors did not simply encourage contributors to explore possibilities ‘for reciprocal integration’ between the two realms. Stressing that ‘the humanities . . . [are] facing a complex crisis on their own’, they stated t...
Book
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Embodied methods
Article
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In this introductory essay, we outline the relationship between political dissensus and radical democracy, focusing especially on how such a politics might inform the study of business ethics. This politics is located historically in the failure of liberal democracy to live up to its promise, as well as the deleterious response to that from reactio...
Conference Paper
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This PDW not only seeks to broaden our sight but sharpen our insights and enhance our impact by opening our ears, noses, pores and palates to the possibilities and limitations of Embodied Knowing in Management & Organization Studies (MOS). While the resurgence of post-truth populism shows that our capacity to collaborate, think and act is undermine...
Research
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Please join us to discuss Gender and Embodied Knowledge in Post-Truth Times at our GWO conference stream in Canterbury, Kent, 24-26 June 2020.
Research
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Please join us to engage with, and challenge, the broad question of what it means to be a man, a woman, or trans, at work, in an organization, in society, at this moment in time.
Research
Thought we had to say something about the importance of flesh and blood qualitative research to challenge fake news and alternative facts. https://theconversation.com/fake-news-emotions-and-experiences-not-more-data-could-be-the-antidote-123496#comment_2039405 For some background to this argument you may want to read Chapter 8 of pour book Embod...
Book
Disembodied research erects false dichotomies between flesh and reason, and between the corporeal and the social. By contrast, Torkild Thanem and David Knights engage with approaches and practices that exploit the body’s capacity to generate knowledge, craft lively accounts, and create fleshy concepts. These approaches enrich our understanding of h...
Article
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Drawing on examples from contemporary Sweden, in this essay I discuss how the diversity project is under attack from a variety of patriarchal, extremist and hypocritical forces. I conclude that the survival of diversity is not a question of altruism but a matter of our own survival and welfare.
Research
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The corporate performance cultures of contemporary capitalism promise us that the future is wide open; that there are no limits; that, as long as you do what it takes to become the best version of yourself, the impossible is possible. While this mode of organization has already pervaded our everyday lives for some years, it shows few signs of slowi...
Conference Paper
In this paper I discuss how fewer trans people identify as transvestites, and how transvestism has become a disfavoured term within the trans community and in gender discourse more broadly.
Article
https://hbr.org/2018/03/the-swedish-ceo-who-runs-his-company-like-a-crossfit-gym
Research
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'Breaking the Cis/Trans Divide: The Politics of Gender Transgression at the Dusk of Neo-Liberal Capitalism' We would like to invite you to submit your abstracts to our conference stream at the Gender, Work & Organization 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference, in Sydney, 13-16 June 2018. Deadline for abstracts: 1 November 2017. P...
Article
ABSTRACT: This paper addresses the fundamental question of ‘what is ethical leadership’ by re-articulating relations between leaders and followers in terms of ‘affective leadership’. The paper develops a Spinozian conception of ethics which is underpinned by a deep suspicion of ethical systems that hold obedience as a primary virtue. We argue that...
Chapter
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In this short piece we take issue with the current separatist tendencies that are being expressed in certain parts of the queer community. We illustrate how this compares with central ideas in proto-queer thought and queer theory, and how it risks undermining the possibility of a queer dialogue and queer politics.
Article
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Mainstream ideas of strategy are aimed at gaining and maintaining power. In contrast, the work of Deleuze and Guattari is directed against the concentration of corporate and state power and capitalist forms of exploitation. Their writings provide us with valuable concepts for understanding the workings of strategy and exploring creative ways throug...
Article
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Current approaches to the study of affective relations are over-determined in a way that ignores their radicality, yet abstracted to such an extent that the corporeality and differentially lived experience of power and resistance is neglected. To radicalize the potential of everyday affects, this article calls for an intensification of corporeality...
Article
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While previous research in organization studies has utilized transgender to show how gender is done, overdone and undone, this literature lacks empirical grounding, and the theoretical arguments dominating it tend to idealize the transgressive power of transgender whilst reducing transgender to hyperbolic drag and stereotypical passing. To further...
Chapter
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This chapter offers a selective discussion of organizational scholarship on the body and its engagement with philosophy. I first identify six ways in which organization theory has engaged with various philosophical paradigms to explore different and partly overlapping aspects of the body. Identifying body politics as a point of partition in this li...
Article
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Recent attempts to develop an embodied understanding of ethics in organizations have tended to mobilize a Levinasian and ‘im/possible’ ethics of recognition, which separates ethics and embodiment from politics and organization. We argue that this separation is unrealistic, unsustainable, and an unhelpful starting point for an embodied ethics of org...
Chapter
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Då skrivandet fortfarande var i sin linda skrev vi bokstavligen på kroppen – på döda djurkroppar från getter och får, direkt på deras hud, som vi hade flått, kalkat, sträckt och torkat till pergament. Redan då var skrivandet en maskin som frigjorde oss från våra kroppar. Så fort man skrivit ner sina tankar blir ju kroppen överflödig. Den skrivande...
Article
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Despite Weber’s early emphasis on passionate emotions in charismatic leadership, and a recent but broader interest in the embodied and emotional aspects of leadership, we still know relatively little about how passions are embodied in leadership. We also know little about how such passions may transgress formally and socially defined limits of lead...
Article
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In contrast to the largely functionalist and apolitical literature which dominates organizational scholarship on exploitation and exploration after March, this paper seeks to complement this view of exploitation and exploration with a Marxist reading which is unwittingly implied by these terms. More specifically, we combine neo-Marxist and paleo-Ma...
Article
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Despite the growing organisational literature on the gendered body, we argue that much of this literature remains disembodied. We therefore seek to further embody the study of gendered bodies and organisations by viewing the body as lived gendered embodiment and by writing our own viscerally embodied experiences into our discussion. We first discus...
Article
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Privileging the discursive expression of micro-resistance while exploiting spatial metaphors such as cynical distancing and escape, recent work in Critical Management Studies (CMS) has tended to find resistance everywhere without actually examining its spatial whereabouts. Utilizing a spatial approach, this article therefore investigates how homele...
Book
Drawing on contemporary debates in organization theory, this book explores the monsters that populate organizations, what organizations do to these monsters, and how this challenges us to re-construct organization theory. Torkild Thanem first interrogates how organizations and organization theory seek to kill monsters and how organizations exploi...
Article
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Recently, open office design has witnessed a shift from formalised design models toward the promotion of fun, spontaneity and creativity through design. Using qualitative data from two case studies, we investigate how this 'new spirit' of open and pro-creative office design may afford a broader range of behaviours than originally intended. We argue...
Article
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Challenging yet extending extant efforts in organisation studies to disrupt the gender divide, we develop an embodied account to more fundamentally dissolve the binaries that divide conventional forms of female and male embodiment. Despite a proliferation of literature on the body and emotion in sociology and organisation studies, it is our view th...
Article
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The following roundtable took place at a one-day seminar at Lund University, 23 November 2009, and was organized jointly by ephemera, Copenhagen Business School and Lund University. The general topic of the seminar was to what extent self-management can be understood as a way of governing work through subjectivity. Topics discussed included the soc...
Article
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Both Freud's and Deleuze's understandings of masochism limit the transgressive and subversive forces of masochism by taking sexual difference for granted. Drawing on Newton's fashion photography for Wolford and on feminist interrogations of Freud, Deleuze and masochism, this paper therefore seeks to develop an alternative, queer theory of masochism...
Article
This article seeks to critically investigate the assembling, production and organization of female and male sexuality in contemporary Swedish sex education. The empirical focus is on booklets and leaflets published by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (the RFSU). Employing the concept of assemblages articulated by Deleuze and Guattari...
Article
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During the past decade or so, organization studies has witnessed a small but growing interest in the human body, in health, and in the management of life beyond organizational boundaries. In light of this development, this paper investigates how the New Public Health seeks to construct and manage people as healthy bodies beyond the boundaries of fo...
Article
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to introduce an embodied approach to disability into the field of diversity management research. Design/methodology/approach The paper critically examines previous diversity management research and it draws on previous disability research in the social sciences to develop an embodied approach to disability for...
Conference Paper
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This paper explores how organizational decision-makers deal with wicked problems. Drawing on constructivist approaches to decision-making, we investigate planners' decision-making during the recent reconstruction of a public square in Stockholm. We find that the planners address what they view as tame, solvable problems and exclude what they view a...
Chapter
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Formal organization is often seen as opposed or resistant to change, in theory as well as in practice. Drawing primarily on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze we argue that the reverse is true — that organization is itself a dynamic quality and that change and organization are imbricated in each other. We expand several key concepts of this philosoph...
Chapter
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Deleuze has argued that with a few exceptions such as Bergson, philosophers, despite their concern with concepts, have neglected the concept of philosophy itself. If so, then this is even more true for organisation theorists, who have been obsessed with what organisations do, but have taken the concept of organisation largely for granted. Again wit...
Article
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Following the recent curiosity for monsters in social and organizational research, this paper questions the power, purity and boundaries of organization by accentuating its risky encounters with heterogeneous, monstrous bodies. In an attempt to problematize organization theory’s implicit dissociation of monsters from organization, the understanding...
Article
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In an attempt to challenge the status of the organizational, this paper proposes a ‘nonorganizational’ turn towards embodiment and desire. Introducing and critically discussing Deleuze and Guattari's (198826. Deleuze Gilles Guattari Felix (1988) A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia, vol. 2 (trans. Brian Massumi), London: Athlone View...
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The emergence of the idea that organizations are like organisms is generally seen as having saved organization studies (OS) from its mechanistic precepts. We argue that it has not. Rather, the mechanistic underpinnings of organization merely found a new medium of expression in the organism metaphor. This is largely due to the particular legacy that...

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Projects

Projects (8)
Archived project
This project gathers previous work that I have conducted on spatial struggles in cities and organizations. Based on empirical studies of urban reconstruction projects and open-plan office design, the project draws attention to the unintended consequences of spatial planning efforts by highlighting a variety of ways in which people cope with and resist with architectural interventions into urban and corporate sites.
Archived project
For a while now I have been trying to think through the kind of empirical phenomena and theoretical problems that I encounter in my own field of organization studies by engaging with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. I am particularly intrigued by the vibrant multiplicity and intensive expressivity which his work (alone and with Felix Guattari) infuses into our understanding of life, politics, and the world. Deleuze makes bodies and matter pulsate and connect, so much so, that a new politics begins to open up, which thwarts the current forces of exploitation and oppression. At the moment I am especially interested in how these political, economic and libidinal struggles are played out in the contemporary workings of corporate performance cultures.