Where the past is always present: A case study of the historicity of organizational space

Yihan Liu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

133 Downloads (Pure)


The thesis was initiated by the reconceptualization of organizational space as a social product and organizations as process. The research objective was to study organizational space in history through researching an empirical case over a long historical period, with the aim of unravelling how the historicity of the organizational space interacts with the present day. Specifically, this thesis builds on the framework of Henri Lefebvre’s work on space. Lefebvrian conceptualization of space enabled research of organizational space as a social construction, as a process in a recursive way. The theoretical contribution of this thesis lies in demonstrating the analytical potential of Lefebvre's work, to synthesize different theories including process theory and new historicism. Methodologically, this thesis empirically uncovered the historicity of organizational space in a university building – the Founder's Building of Royal Holloway, University of London. Founder’s Building, the original building of RHUL, (which was then Royal Holloway College, opened in 1886 as a women college). Specifically, both archival evidence and interviewing evidence were collected and analysed as a twin-track approach. Therefore, the methodological contribution of this thesis is to exemplify the possibility of a twin-track strategy in understanding how organizational space can be communicated and how people can interact with it; and to demonstrate reflexivity within this twin-track approach. The most important finding emerging from this thesis is that how history of organizational space is articulated and appropriated by users of the space. In the case of Founder’s Building, it is discovered that space becomes a major field for negotiations and appropriations in term of how history can be articulated.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Grey, Christopher, Supervisor
  • Symon, Gillian, Supervisor
Award date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018

Cite this