Zen and the Art of Organizational Maintenance
Organizational Aesthetics Cover Issue Vol. 2(1)


Zen Buddhism
Zen arts
Zen aesthetics
Steve Jobs

How to Cite

PurserR. (2013). Zen and the Art of Organizational Maintenance. Organizational Aesthetics, 2(1), 34-58. Retrieved from https://oa.journals.publicknowledgeproject.org/index.php/oa/article/view/21


This article draws from Zen Buddhism and its arts as a means for reimagining management as a mindfulness practice. Inspired by Zen and its unique aesthetic, this mindfulness practice is referred to as "organizational maintenance." As a contemplative art, organizational maintenance is theorized as a process which intensifies awareness of dualities and contradictions, amplifying the drive towards unity and expression of Quality. The expression of this drive toward unity in Zen Buddhism has had a profound influence on Japanese arts - such as the tea ceremony, calligraphy, Haiku poetry, and landscape garden design. Decoding the aesthetic principles inherent in the Zen-inspired arts sheds light on how such principles can inform contemporary practices in organizations. The artistry of organizational maintenance and Zen-inspired aesthetics is explored in the example of the late Steve Jobs, whose encounter with Zen was influential in his design sensibilities, mental focus, and trust in intuition. Finally, the philosophy of organizational maintenance is explored in terms of what it means to recover and appreciate a deeper sense of wholeness and Quality in organizational life.