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A Practice-theoretical Account of Organizational Attention

A project conducted in collaboration between Warwick Business School and the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management of USI - Università della Svizzera Italiana

Funded by The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF project 100013M_204597)

Organizational attention, the capacity of organizations to combine effective oversight and foresight, is increasingly becoming a critical core competence and a source of competitive advantage. Failure to put in place appropriate mechanisms to orient, sustain and re-orient attention can, in fact, lead to loss of opportunities, wrong strategic decisions, and adverse events. These, in turn, can have seriously negative effects on the performance and reputation of private, public, and non-profit organizations alike.

To deepen our understanding of how people do attention and how attentional effects emerge from the connections and conflicts between mundane practices, we will study three rather diverse empirical contexts: border control, air traffic control, and venture capital investments. We chose these organizations as paying attention is at the core of what they do, although each of them presents a unique set of challenges that will help us to shed light on the different facets of the phenomenon. Our multi-site research design will use ethnographic observation combined with photo- and video-based approaches. We will also use qualitative interviews and other methods from the qualitative interpretive tradition.

We expect the study to advance our theoretical understanding of organizational attention and to provide insights on how to manage organizational attention in business practice for the purpose of managing risks and seizing opportunities.

Link to the main project website hereLink opens in a new window

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