December 01, 2016

10:00-11:00 a.m.

Connecting in character: Actors bonding through role playing in community theatre

Research is increasingly demonstrating the organizational and individual benefits of fostering high quality connections at work. But we still know very little about how to promote high quality connections. Organizations are particularly difficult contexts to promote high quality connections, one reason being the prevalence of depersonalizing roles that inhibit whole-self engagement at work and act as barriers to genuine connection. Perhaps in no organizational context are roles more salient than in theatre, and yet, actors often experience moments of deep connection as they play their characters together. In a qualitative study consisting of observations and interviews in six different community theatre productions, I explore the interpersonal dynamics of role playing. Data analysis is ongoing, but preliminary findings suggest that roles are an important medium through which actors can more genuinely express themselves and be fully present with their castmates. I seek to understand the conditions that enable roles to be sources of connection in theatre. In particular, I explore the inherent paradox of freedom within constraints associated with role playing, a paradox that characterizes any experience of play, and how this paradox relates to connection.

Lyndon is a doctoral candidate of Management and Organizations in the Ross School of Business. His research focuses on exploring, unlocking, and reanimating social connection at work. Drawing primarily on qualitative methods, he studies the interpersonal dynamics of social connection in the face of group and organizational dynamics (e.g., role dynamics, competitive dynamics, group norms). His research has explored a wide range of interesting contexts, including ICU physicians, coworking spaces, sports, and theatre.

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubator here; and direct questions about individual sessions to Julia Lee at