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Torkild Thanem


Professor of Work Life Research

A171 ( Jon Lilletuns vei 3, Grimstad )

I am Professor of Work Life Research at the University of Agder, a Visiting Professor of Management & Organization at Stockholm University, and Associate Editor of Organization: The Critical Journal of Organization, Theory & Society. I gained my PhD from the University of Warwick in 2002.

Research interests

I am particularly interested in how people within and around organizations express and experience their bodily selves, how they relate to the embodied identities of other people, and how they deal with prevailing pressures and expectations in organizational life. This raises political and ethical questions around what it means to work in contemporary organizations – how our lives and bodies are managed, and how we might pursue joyful relations with others in concord with, or in conflict with, organizational structures and cultures.

In my previous research, I have explored these questions in the realms of workplace health promotion, consultancy firms, transgender politics, leadership, and urban planning. Most recently, and funded by the Swedish Research Council, I conducted an ethnographic study of a Swedish sportswear company to find out what it is like to live and work in a corporate performance culture. I am currently initiating a larger project on the management of organizational culture in times of workplace digitalization.

My most recent book is Embodied Research Methods, published by Sage in 2019, co-authored with David Knights, and endorsed by UC Berkeley sociologist Loïc Wacquant.

Research areas: Corporate performance cultures; workplace health promotion; leadership; transgender; embodied methods; organizational ethics.

Courses and teaching

I have long experience of teaching and supervising undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and post-experience students in management, organization and change. I currently teach the MSc module in Organizational Development & Management and supervise undergraduate dissertations in HRM.

Work experience

2020-on: Professor of Work Life Research, School of Business and Law, University of Agder, Norway.

2020-on: Visiting Professor of Management and Organization Studies, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Sweden.

2011-2020: Professor of Management and Organization Studies, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Sweden.

2008-2011: Associate Professor in Management and Organization Studies, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University.

2007: Assistant Professor in Management and Organization Studies, School of Management and Economics, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden.

2002-2006: Research Fellow in Management and Organization Studies, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University. Funded by the Swedish Research Council.

2002: Assistant Professor in Marketing and Management, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University.

I have also been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, the University of Oregon, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and New Mexico State University in the US, as well as Monash University (Australia), Victoria University (New Zealand), Newcastle University (UK), and the University of Trento (Italy).

Academic interests

Corporate performance cultures

Workplace health promotion



Embodied methods

Organizational ethics

Selected publications

Research monographs

Thanem, T. & Knights, D. (2019) Embodied Research Methods. London: Sage. 

Thanem, T. (2011) The Monstrous Organization. Cheltenham: Edward

Edited Journal Issues

Rhodes, C., Munro, I., Thanem, T. & Pullen, A. (2020) “Dissensus! Radical Democracy and Business Ethics”, special issue, Journal of Business Ethics.

Pullen, A., Thanem, T., Tyler, M. & Wallenberg, L. (2016) “Sexual Politics, Organizational Practices: Interrogating Queer Theory, Work and Organization”, special issue, Gender, Work & Organization 23(1).

Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals

Thanem, T. & Wallenberg, L. (2021) “The humanities are not our patient”, Management Learning, DOI: 1350507620986931.

Munro, I. & Thanem, T. (2018) “The Ethics of Affective Leadership: Organizing Good Encounters without Leaders”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 28(1): 51–69.

Munro, I. & Thanem, T. (2018) “Deleuze and the Deterritorialization of Strategy”, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 53: 59–78.

Pullen, A., Rhodes, C. & Thanem, T. (2017) “Affective Politics in Gendered Organizations: Affirmative Notes on Becoming-Woman”, Organization 24(1): 105–23.

Thanem, T. & Wallenberg, L. (2016) “Just Doing Gender? Transvestism and the Power of Underdoing Gender in Everyday Life and Work”, Organization 23(2): 250–71.

Thanem, T. & Wallenberg, L. (2015) “What Can Bodies Do? Reading Spinoza for An Affective Ethics of Organizational Life”, Organization 21(2), 235–50.

Thanem, T. (2013) “More Passion Than the Job Requires? Monstrously Transgressive Leadership in the Promotion of Health at Work”, Leadership 9(3): 396–415.

General outreach

Knights, D. & Thanem, T. (2019) “Fake News: Emotions and Experiences, Not More Data, Could Be the Antidote”, The Conversation, October 9. https://theconversation.com/fake-news-emotions-and-experiences-not-more-data- could-be-the-antidote-123496

Cederström, C. & Thanem, T. (2018) “The Swedish CEO Who Runs His Company Like a CrossFit Gym”, Harvard Business Review, March 12. https://hbr.org/2018/03/the-swedish-ceo-who-runs-his-company-like-a-crossfit-gym

Scientific publications

Last changed: 15.02.2021 13:02