This thesis uses critical theory as an approach to examine and shed new light on two areas of workplace design strategy. First, how much of the decisions to adopt workplace design strategies are influenced by the perceptions of the value of these strategies by those within the business organizations that are responsible for developing them; and second, that once adopted, these same individuals shape the perceptions of those stakeholders who are the recipients of these strategies in order to gain support and buy-in for these same strategies.
The thesis first examines the various areas of organizational life that are touched by and inform workplace design strategies: strategy, organizational design and workplace design. Focusing on workplace design, the thesis traces the history of this relatively new field to uncover the roots of many of the factors that have helped shaped perceptions regarding workplace design strategies. Then, using fourteen business organizations, the thesis goes on to evaluating decisions regarding these strategies trough the perspective of structuration theory.
The literature review suggests a gap in research focusing on the complexity of this decision making process, and the role perceptions play in forming one’s sense of reality which in turn creates the foundation for valuing first the role of workplace design strategies within business organizations, and then in which strategy to ultimately adopt. The existing literature focuses primarily on the roles of workplace design strategies in enabling organizational culture and often accept as valid, without any evidence based research to support it, that these strategies are the correct ones to adopt. The research also uncovers that much of the
workplace design strategy process has been determined without this evidence based research to support it. If this is the case, then how are these decision made, and what informs these decisions, if not research? This thesis fills that gap. Through structuration theory, decisions are deconstructed in a manner previously ignored. Critical theory opens up areas of review such as the role of power and control, and managing meaning, that provide new insights into the decision making process.