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Are theatre and business links relevant? A conceptual paper and a case study

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine why theatre-business links are relevant to management. The focus is on two types of links: using theatre techniques as a training method for managers, and using corporate theatre as a change management tool. The paper seeks to share an experience and tries to explicate the processes involved in order to explain the success of these two kinds of courses, both training theatre and corporate theatre (specifically, action theatre in this case). Design/methodology/approach ‐ This is a case study. Theatre has been taught for ten years at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business under the author's responsibility, and also the corporate theatre method is taught to initial students and to continuing training managers. This paper is based on those teaching experiences. To explain the relevance of both of theatre as a training tool and corporate theatre as a management tool, the author relates to both theories of body memory from neuroscientists and to the catharsis phenomenon. Findings ‐ The goal was to make hypotheses from the above theories which explain the process that takes place inside the manager undergoing training and to open further research. Research limitations/implications ‐ Main limitations come from the lack of established empirical and relevant measures of the effects of such theatre processes on participants' management abilities and from the lack of tools to measure the long-term effects of theatre. Practical implications ‐ The most important implication is that practitioners could make more relevant use of such techniques when designing training sessions or utilizing corporate theatre interventions. Social implications ‐ Social implications come from how the "human" face of theatre can help the personal development of managers, improving or changing their views on the world and other people. Originality/value ‐ Although theatre and business links are more than 20 years old, nobody has previously tried to understand the inner processes involved.

Keywords: Communication skills; Corporate theatre; Creativity; Managers; Personal development of managers; Self development; Self-awareness communication abilities; Theatre; Theatre exercises; Training; Training manager

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02621711211208871

Publication date: March 16, 2012

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