I’m still confused, but on a higher level: Ohad interviews Jacco

In this podcast Jacco van Uden, Head of Change Management research group at The Hague University of Applied Sciences re-visits the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in a trip down memory lane 5 years after the The Job Swap project he did with Mercedes Azpilicueta in 2017. 

Pinning down Jacco’s own research agenda was a rather slippery attempt, at first, as he primarily understands his role as a facilitator and enabler of the work of others in the Change Management research group. Once settled in the interviewee-researcher seat, Jacco describes a quirky and awkward trajectory of doing research, which on the one hand, is driven by a ‘traditional’ background in Management and Organisation studies, and on the other hand, looking for ways to affirmatively engage in management practices that can be informed by the professional practices of artists.

An example of such a practice is Jacco’s recent research that he conducts in collaboration with artist Marjolijn Zwakman into the theme of uncertainty. This includes workshops with managers in which Jacco and Marjolijn try to develop, together with the workshop participants, a new way of relating to uncertainty. 

Rather than understanding “the management and organization thing” as an environment in which uncertainty should be controlled, organised or eliminated, Jacco speaks of learning to accept the body as an instrument to study uncertainty. “What if,”, asks Jacco, “you invite uncertainty to the party and accept it as a friend, what would happen then?”. This, according to Jacco, leads workshop participants to experience a sense of “relief to be exploring different relationship to uncertainty or different ways of engaging with uncertainty without learning outcomes being predefined”.

Developing his research method “on the fly”, Jacco points to how the body has been dismissed as a relevant source of knowledge for too long in management studies. Looking into art practices, Jacco is inspired by the work of artists who, rather than focusing on a solely cognitive approach to uncertainty, accept the body as an instrument to appreciate uncertainty for what it is. 

“What then is uncertainty through the body?”, you might ask. That is yet to be defined (or not), but what is clear is that through his research Jacco hopes to get, not a better ‘grip’ on uncertainty, as that would be missing the point, but rather, “confused on a higher level”. 

Listen to the podcast on Spotify!

Ohad Ben Shimon is an artist, researcher and educator with a background in Cognitive Sciences, Psychology, Cultural Analysis, International Business Education and Art. He is currently PhD candidate at the Research Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) of the Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University and Senior Lecturer of Critical Thinking/ Researcher of Change Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. His PhD research funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) focuses on the role of embodiment in knowledge-based organisations.

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