Provenance: An Aesthetic Window for Investigating Professional Practice
Organizational Aesthetics Cover Issue Vol. 9(2)


professional art practice
professional business practice
reflective practice

How to Cite

HillG., & JenkinsR. (2018). Provenance: An Aesthetic Window for Investigating Professional Practice. Organizational Aesthetics, 9(2), 83-99. Retrieved from


The study of professional practice is but one of many foci within Organisational inquiry. A discourse devoted to professional practice, currently typified by ideological critique along with interpretations of professionalism (Evetts, 2014), emerged in the early 20th century and evolved through different writing phases. The discourse predominantly identified literature informing professional practice investigation.

A feature of the professional practice discourse is its reference to "turns" or shifts in the ways in which professional practice inquiry is undertaken. In the 1980s, the "reflective turn" discussed the different tools and processes available for professionals to reflect on their practice. Later, in the early 2000s, the "practice turn" explored the common trend of person-centred practice investigation. Discussion around art-based tools to raise consciousness about professional practices, sometimes referred to as aesthetic approaches, has emerged as a new agenda in contemporary professional practice investigation and can be recognised as an "aesthetic turn".

This paper affirms emergence of an aesthetic turn in organisational inquiry and posits inclusion of "Provenance", an aesthetic tool, as a window into investigating and understanding professional practices. Provenance is traditionally associated with artefacts, illuminating the history of a given artefact. Applied to professional practice, Provenance identifies key events which have informed the development of a practice and thus provides insights into the contemporary outplaying of a practice.

The paper begins with an illumination of the study of professional practice and focusses on one feature of the history in its references to "turns". The paper then introduces a notion of Provenance using examples from Literature and Sculpture. Finally the paper posits worth of Provenance in Organisational Inquiry and draws attention to the examples in the earlier illumination of professional practice as examples of Provenance in Organizational Inquiry.