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Surfacing the Invisible in Studies of Knowledge, Innovation and Organizational Networks


Main Speaker: Nigel Thrift (Vice Chancellor University of Warwick)
Discussant: Andre Spicer (WBS)
Project Presenters: Davide Nicolini (WBS), Nikiforos Panourgias (WBS), Jeanne Mengis (WBS)
Date: Friday, 1 May 2009
Time: 9.30 – 2.00
Room R0.12, Ramphal Building, University of Warwick


The workshop aims to provide a vehicle for scholars interested in knowledge, innovation and organizational networks to debate empirical challenges to their work. Looking beyond the confines of our discipline, the workshop starts with a presentation from the field of social geography by Nigel Thrift who will discuss ‘non-representational theory’ in relation to his current projects. His deliberations on material schematism and the importance of the pre-cognitive invite us to a reflection on new ways to study organizational practices that are both continuously changing and also have some form of stability through, for example, material embodiments. Thrift reflects on how we could include the ‘invisible’, such as affect, sensation, and the ‘poetics of latent worlds’ in our analysis of organizational practices. These first conceptual considerations will be followed by brief project presentations, during which scholars active in the field of innovation and organizational knowledge discuss what kind of non-representational issues they encounter in their research projects and how they attempt to investigate them empirically. It is intended that throughout the event there should be considerable scope for discussion with and contributions from workshop participants.


   9.30 Coffee
   9.50 Welcome and introductions
10.00 Rewarding the Empirical: Nigel Thrift (University of Warwick)
11.00 Implications of the non-representational for Organization Studies
Discussant: Andre Spicer (WBS)
11.30 Break
Accessing the non-representational in empirical projects:
  • The Practices of Articulating Practice: Davide Nicolini (WBS)
  • Managing the Experiential in the Design of Computer Games: Nikiforos Panourgias (WBS)
  • Surfacing Medical Malpractice and Learning by Submersion:  Jeanne Mengis (WBS)
12.45 Discussion
  1.15 Wrap up & close
Finger buffet lunch


Nigel Thrift is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick. Prior to this he was the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Oxford. He was made Head of the Division of Life and Environmental Sciences at Oxford in 2003, before which he chaired the Research Committee at The University of Bristol (2001 - 2003) and Bristol’s Research Assessment Panel (1997-2001). During his academic career Professor Thrift has been the recipient of a number of distinguished academic awards including the Royal Geographical Society Victoria Medal for contributions to geographic research in 2003 and Distinguished Scholarship Honors from the Association of American Geographers in 2007. His current research spans a broad range of interests, including international finance; cities and political life; non-representational theory; affective politics; and the history of time. He is a Visiting Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Bristol.

Andre Spicer is an Associate Professor of Organization Studies at the Warwick Business School. He holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia and held teaching and research posts at the University of Otago, New Zealand and the University of Melbourne, Australia. His work focuses on developing a political theory of organization. He has conducted research on entrepreneurship, globalization in public broadcasting, labour disputes in ports, organizational resistance and open source technology. He is co-author of Contesting the Corporation (Cambridge University Press) and Unmasking the Entrepreneur (Edward Elgar).

Nikiforos Panourgias is a Research Fellow at IKON of Warwick Business School. He is currently working on an ESRC-funded research project studying interdisciplinarity in the design and development of computer games. He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics in 2008. For his thesis, he studied the design and development of an information and communication technology based platform for the cross-border settlement of securities transactions between the UK and Ireland, France, Belgium, and Holland. His main research interests are in the areas of interdisciplinarity in the design and development of ICTs, and the role of ICTs in the reconfiguration of manifold areas of social life, from games and entertainment to markets and marketplaces, commerce, processes of economic and political integration, and finance.

Jeanne Mengis is a Research Fellow at IKON, WBS and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lugano, Switzerland. She conducts research on knowledge integration in interdisciplinary collaboration, focusing mainly on communication practices in knowledge work. Currently, she is engaged in a research project studying the construction of evidence of medical malpractice and how healthcare organisations engage in “evidence”-based learning. During 2007/2008, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Boston University’s School of Management and in 2004/2005 a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In February 2007, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Lugano on the integration of expertise in decision making.

Davide Nicolini is an Assistant Professor and RCUK Fellow at IKON, the Warwick Business School research unit on Innovation Knowledge and Organizational Networks.  Prior to joining the University of Warwick he has researched and lectured at the University of Trento and Bergamo (Italy). He also held a senior social scientist position at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London.  His recent work focuses on the development of a practice-based approach to the study of organizational phenomena and its implications for the understanding of knowing, collaboration, and change in organizations. Other areas of interest include the advancement of action-methodologies, the development and use of reflection practices, and their application to learning from accident, safety, and inter-organisational relations.


Attendance at this event is free but places are limited so please register early if you wish to attend 


A copy of the workshop invitation is available here (PDF Document)

For more information, or to register for a place at the event, please contact Dawn Coton