Lost in Innovation


Artistic intervention, Artist-in-residence, Artist residency, Innovation, Liminality

How to Cite

SandbergB. (2021). Lost in Innovation: Artists as Liminal Residents in the Fuzzy Front End. Organizational Aesthetics, 10(2), 12-40. Retrieved from https://oa.journals.publicknowledgeproject.org/index.php/oa/article/view/244


The case of Robert Bosch GmbH, who integrated an artist-in-residence program into innovation management, is the basis for this explorative study on artists’ experiences and attitudes towards corporate residency programs. 11 semi-structured interviews with artists who took part in the program were submitted to inductive thematic analysis in order to explore benefits and challenges of the residency. The findings are discussed along the concept of liminality and its specifications within organizational theory, both as a framework of explanation and a basis for hypothesizing on peculiarities of artist-in-residencies embedded in corporate settings. As liminality is a temporary, transformational condition between two states defined by diffused norms, non-status and unanchored identity, the residency program under scrutiny has characteristics of a liminal space. The program demonstrably offered artistic freedom and space for personal development as well as an intercultural challenge linked to the artists’ prominent outsider status. The artists actively performed strategies to cope with their liminal position betwixt and between the artistic realm and corporate environment, and adapted to operational requirements. On a social level, however, they refused to be engrossed by corporate demands and resorted to their artistic identity. By maintaining their autonomy, the artists demonstrated a particular liminality competence that is anchored in their artistic self. The study contributes to research by illuminating the position of artists-in-residence in non-art environments and offers practical implications for framing interdisciplinary residencies.