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Date / Heure
Date(s) - 09/11/2017
12 h 15 min - 14 h 00 min

HEC Montréal

Salle/room: St-Hubert (1er étage, section verte)

Conférence donnée en anglais

Presentation in English

Apportez votre lunch, café et jus seront servis!


Organizational scholars have long studied managerial attention, including its focus (or direction) and qualities (i.e., the properties that improve noticing and interpreting activities) (Beyer et al., 1997; Dane 2013; Ocasio, 1997). In so doing, they have advanced our knowledge of the antecedents and consequences of managerial attention. Missing from prior research however, is the study how managerial attention unfolds in situ. In this paper, we rely on the practice approach (Nicolini 2012), together with the notions of situated actions (Suchman 1987) and distributed cognition (Hutchins 1994), to address the following research question: How does attention takes place in practice?

Empirically, we rely on data collected at Shinning Co., the commercial unit of a large European energy company. The first author of this study shadowed two first-line managers of two teams of online counselors in their daily activities for two weeks each. She also conducted one interview inspired from the interview-to-the-double method with each manager in order to access to interviewees’ tacit knowledge mobilized in action.

Our results first show how top-down organizational processes channel managers’ attention to organizational goals. Specifically, our study complements past research (Ocasio 1997) by showing how managers translate organizational goals into a myriad of fined grained foci of attention and ultimately exert their attention by creating a socio-material web (or assemblage) of attention foci. Second, and importantly, our study shows how three types of attention practices – awareness, remembering, and switching practices – leverage, in situ, this web of attention foci. Our findings thus highlight three important – yet so far neglected – features of attention in practice: attention is embodied (awareness practices), distributed (remembering practices), and emergent (switching practices).

Overall, our paper offers a practice-based view of attention, and shows how such a conceptualization helps understand the intertwinement between action and attention.

Co-author: Christelle THERON

Authors’ bio:


Laure Cabantous is Professor of Strategy and Organization at Cass Business School. Her research agenda is organized around two main research areas: the performative power of management theories and models – that is their ability to shape the world and business practices; and practices of valuation and calculation in organizations (in relation with strategy making and decision-making). She has also an interest in decision making practices and distributed cognition in organizations (i.e., how organizational actors make use of “things” to think and make decisions). Her research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Management, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Human Relations, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, and the Journal of Behavioral Decision-Making.

Christelle Théron is Associate Professor at the IAE Toulouse (University of Toulouse 1 Capitole). She completed her PhD at ESCP Europe. In her research, she studies managers’ daily practices, and their role in the making of strategy. She has a special interest for managerial cognition, in particular managerial attention.

Cette conférence est organisée conjointement avec la Chaire en gestion stratégique en contexte pluraliste