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Espaces, pratiques et transition dans l’organisation : une ethnographie en gares

Abstract : Organisations’ members are increasingly permanently moving. They talk on the phone while walking, they attend meeting remotely and they share coworking space for a limited period of time. People are increasingly navigating their workspace rather than settling in it. The train station is a perfect example of this spatial and temporal trend. Our empirical question emerged from our fieldwork at the SNCF, which is currently reshaping space within its stations, and deeply re-thinking the role of its field agents. This reorganisation takes place in a context of digitalisation of the organisation’s historic activities. In that regard, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the role of commercial agents, who now become increasingly mobile. Moving agents contrast with a common historical perception of train stations as an aggregation of areas which functions and uses are closed, fixed and stable. This empirical observation converges with a theoretical gap: despite an awareness for “in-between” spaces in organization studies, the literature has paid little attention to how these spaces are enacted through work practices. Indeed, this literature is still more focused on the experience of users and travellers in these spaces, rather than the laboring bodies which are producing space in their everyday work. In this doctoral work, we approach the transitional aspect of space as an experience and a process closely related to work practices. We conducted an ethnography around several French train stations and undertook participant observation of central management for three years at SNCF. This empirical work allows a better understanding of professions and space planning processes. We analyse space and time through commercial agents’ three key practices: sales, information and boarding. We focus on embodied practices, by adopting a phenomenological approach. This study sheds light on the ways practices create a transitional spacetime. In order to the space to be crossed, movements are needed. Those movements are like meeting points which direct, orient, advise or reassure travellers. We contribute to organization theories literature about organizational space and embodied practices by conceptualizing the role of boundaries-gestures in those experiences which encompass spatial, temporal, material and embodied dimensions. We also offer strategic and management contributions by enhancing our understanding of flow and logic required in traveller’s journey.
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Albane Grandazzi. Espaces, pratiques et transition dans l’organisation : une ethnographie en gares. Gestion et management. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018PSLED053⟩. ⟨tel-02157973⟩

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