PhD Defence Natalja Laurey

Laurey, Natalja
Information & Innovation Management

Dissertation title
Design meets Business: an ethnographic field study of the changing work and occupations of creatives

Date and location
October 8, 2019 at 13:45 in the Aula of the Main Building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Design meets Business: an ethnographic field study of the changing work and occupations of creatives

Laurey, NataljaIn this doctoral dissertation, I explore how the work and occupations of creatives are changing in today’s society in three studies. Two studies are based on an ethnography at design and innovation firm Fjord. The first study addresses the changing work tasks of designers as a consequence of an organisational and occupational transformations. Whereas designers previously primarily made digital products, their work is now focused on transforming organizations. I describe how designers as craftsmen seek ways to improve their design skills and maintain a connection with their work through employing diverse material practices. In the second study, I address the changing membership in the occupation. I show that as designers with a background in business enter the occupation of Service Design, there is an increasing ambiguity around what a designer ought to do to do its job well. I map discussions between the longer serving craft designers and the newly arrived business designers. Next to Fjord, I also did a qualitative case study at social innovation hub Waag Society. Here I explore how creatives help business professionals to kickstart innovation trajectories in collaborative projects. I suggest that creatives help their clients orient at alternative realities through facilitating liminality. Liminality here refers to a transformation process which helps people transit to new organizational realities, through moving people out of their comfort zone and teaching them novel ways of thinking and behaving. In sum, these three studies have theoretical and practical implications for better understanding the daily work of creatives, the emergence of creative occupations and collaborations between businesses and the creative industry.

Short biography:
Natalja Laurey completed her PhD at the KIN Center for Digital Innovation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Prior to her PhD research, Natalja worked in the field of creative leadership and innovation (National Thinktank, THNK). She received her Master of Science degree in Social Research (track: Anthropology) (cum laude) from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and non-Western Sociology (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests include creative work and occupations, innovation processes, organizational change and ethnography.