A Grammar of Interactional Wellbeing in Organizational Settings

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


In contemporary wellbeing research, the theoretical focus is traditionally on the decontextualized and timeless agent, or on the interactions between a universal agent and a generic environment. However, to understand wellbeing in organizations, agents' actions and situational particulars can be of pivotal importance. This study argues that wellbeing can and should be studied with a host of mutually complementary theoretical vocabularies. In this study, qualitative empirical investigations into the phenomenon of interactional wellbeing are fortified with a wide range of theoretical arguments, including metatheoretical investigations about the character of wellbeing. This study begins by suggesting that Kenneth Burke's dramatistic pentad – consisting of agent, agency, act, scene, and purpose – can be used as a metatheoretical lens to distinguish complementary "linguistic forms" in wellbeing research. This study argues that different linguistic forms can be seen as alternative paradigms of wellbeing, which offer complementary forms of "serviceability." In this study, wellbeing is approached from an interactional and relational perspective. Interactional wellbeing is subsequently studied as a paradigm that focuses on especially the act-scene ratio in the pentad. This study suggests a novel definition of wellbeing, which fits with an interactional and relational approach and the use of qualitative research methods – it is argued that harmony between the five coordinates of the pentad can be taken as an inclusive metatheoretical definition of wellbeing. There are two interconnected empirical investigations in this study. For this study, 42 interviews were conducted in a knowledge-intensive organization, using a combination of grounded theory and case study methods. The first investigation highlights the significance of the interaction setup for interactional wellbeing in organizational settings. The results show how a generic relational structure and its relational dynamics are connected to relational coordination that is wellbeing generative and degenerative in organizations. The second investigation presents five empirically grounded relational frames. The investigation culminates in an integrative model of interactional wellbeing in organizations, which builds on neo-Aristotelian moral theory. The model depicts how relational frames are used to assess accomplished relational balance in encounters. This study contributes to wellbeing scholarship, relational research, and to the study of performed phronesis in organizations. By bringing forth often-neglected vulnerabilities and embedded man-made structures involved in relationally enacted wellbeing, the in-depth case descriptions prompt practical insights about how to act and live well in the demanding context of knowledge work. In addition, this study seeks to illuminate history-making, serviceability, and relationality in organizations.
Translated title of the contributionKielioppi vuorovaikutteisesta hyvinvoinnista organisaatioympäristössä
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Saarinen, Esa, Supervising Professor
  • Wilk, James, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0020-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0021-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • interactional wellbeing
  • relationality
  • phronesis
  • dramatistic pentad
  • paradigm
  • serviceability
  • history-making


Dive into the research topics of 'A Grammar of Interactional Wellbeing in Organizational Settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this