Play, Usurpation and Boredom (at work)

If you, reader, work for a living, would you say that “… work and play are largely indistinguishable in the postindustrial organization”? Some may say yes, some may say no, and yet others may remain undecided. Thus the ‘Should work be play?’ / ’Should play be work?’ questions remain very much open for study – for academics such as assistant professor Bent Meier Sørensen of Copenhagen Business School, who has recently co-authored the paper Play at work: continuation, intervention and usurpation for the scholarly journal Organization (January 2012, vol. 19 no. 1 81-97)

“We identify three ways in which workplaces engage in play: play as a (serious) continuation of work, play as a (critical) intervention into work and play as an (uninvited) usurpation of work.”

The professor also played a role in the editorial paper Work, play and boredom for the equally scholarly journal ephemera, 11, 4: pp. 329-335.
Where the authors note that:
“Play, it seems, is a very serious business indeed.”
And add:
“The more the workplace resembles an adventure playground and the less it looks like a dull and dreary office, so the theory goes, the more value is added to the bottom line.”
But caution:
“Play may turn back against the organization and disrupt its smooth functioning; the managers who open a game in the organization may find that they lose control over it and come to realize that play is occasionally able to usurp work rather than stimulate it.”
And remind us:
– how Iggy Pop succinctly framed things back in 1979 “I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m the chairman of the bored”.






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