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Organizational Aesthetics and the Promise of Happiness. How Aesthetic Experiences of Employees Contribute to Happiness

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Abstract

Since Guillén (1997) wrote his pioneering article 'Scientific Management's Lost Aesthetic' and concluded that 'we have long neglected the aesthetic context of organizational behavior', there is a little but growing amount of articles about aesthetics in organizations. By the change of type of work to more knowledge-intensive and individual labor, experiencing beauty could be a feature of 'modern organizations'. Although at the end of the last century the field of organizational aesthetics offered some first ideas, these ideas are hardly originated from empirical research, or even related to the phenomenon of hapiness. This study examines which stimuli in organizational events trigger positive and negative aesthetic experiences (PAEs and NAEs) of professionals, in particular of 5 surgeons and 5 teachers, and which emotion they affect. They registered 244 PAEs and 189 NAEs in a self-report (BEL book: Beauty Experience Log book) and individually valued these in a Stendhal Grid. In this Stendhal Grid the degree of beauty versus a degree of emotional impact of all PAEs and NAEs were scored. The main conclusion of this study is that OAS in professional organizations trigger aesthetic experiences which contribute to happiness.). Reflecting on the collected data on aesthetic experiences of professionals (PAEs and NAEs), in particular emotions like alert, excited, elated (caused by PAEs) are remarkable. They in particular represent emotions in the spectrum of happiness because of experienced beauty with high emotional impact and ugliness with high emotional impact. Besides the contribution to happiness of employees, recent studies on organizational aesthetics show that aesthetic experiences of employees strongly correlate with their affective commitment, represented by the outcomes pride, work pleasure, and flow experiences. Many other studies demonstrate that affective commitment can be considered as a predictor of performance. Nevertheless, this study offers quite new insights in aesthetic experiences of employees in professional organizations and their contribution to happiness.

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