Postprint version. Published in Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 93, January 1, 2010, pages 393-400.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-009-0228-4.
The article begins with a brief history of aesthetic theory. Particular attention is given to the postructuralist ‘aesthetic return’: the resurgence of interest in aesthetics as an ontological foundation for human beingin- the-world. The disordered individual-as-emergentartist- and-artifact, who is at the centre of this ‘aesthetic return’, is then translated into the ‘dis’-organization that is the firm. The firm is thus defined in terms of its primal sensory impact on the world. It invokes a myriad of aesthetic relations between its disorganized self and others: its essence resides within these relations; its power of being is determined by its ability to project a unified aesthetic ideal – a ‘mirror fantasy’. The firm thus emerges as a style: where style is defined as an organizing – a sculpting – of aesthetic chaos. In order to achieve a grand style, the firm projects itself through time as a unified aesthetic ideal; as an ongoing work of art. The article concludes with a discussion of how this aesthetic theory of the firm relates to other accepted theories of the nature and purpose of business organizations.