Donatella De Paoli

Førsteamanuensis - Institutt for ledelse og organisasjon


Donatella De Paoli is Associate Professor and leader of the research group Organizational Change and Development at the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour. She holds a PhD from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration NHH in Organizational Behaviour, on a dissertation about team processes in large projects. She spent a year as visiting scholar at Stanford University during her PhD period.

Research areas

As part of an international research project on how places and spaces shape leadership, she became especially interested in analyzing leadership in digital space and its specific challenges. The aesthetic and material aspects of leadership and organizations have been a recurring thread in her research, as well as the study of creativity, both in arts organizations as well as in general organizations. Her research publications in international refereed journals and scientific books are mostly about the embodied and aesthetic leadership (tilstedeværende ledelse) in the digitalized worklife, as well as studies of open-plan offices, creative workspaces and office design for a digital time. Through her research, the importance of presence and embodiment in leadership, to counterbalance the negative effects of digital distractions and distance, has been put the agenda. This is further elaborated in her latest published book ‘ Mindful leadership or ‘Tilstedeværende Ledelse’ at Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

Teaching areas

De Paoli has since she started working at BI, been involved in developing many courses and programs, all about about different aspects of leadership. First, she developed the field of arts and cultural management. Starting with exploring how the arts and creative industries can be better managed and led, the shift has since been in researching how creativity can be fostered and led in general organizations. Her teaching is reflecting her research and is now mainly about different aspects of leadership in knowledge based, digitalized and hybrid organizations. She is responsible and teaches both for the Executive Master of Management programs Team Leadership and ‘Tilstedeværende Ledelse’.

She gives regularly many speeches in business and public organizations about her main research topics. Lately, her speeches are about how the communication, offices and leadership approach should be developed to meet the challenges of constant change, complexity and a sustainable development.


De Molli, Federica & De Paoli, Donatella (2020)

From co-workers to friends: How the aesthetic experience of third places affects the creative process

Montanari, Fabrizio; Mattarelli, Elisa & Scapolan, Anna Chiara (red.). Collaborative Spaces at Work. Innovation, creativity and relations.

De Paoli, Donatella (2020)

Tilstedeværende ledelse – hvorfor er det aktuelt når du leder digitalt?

Praktisk økonomi & finans, 36(3), s. 226- 239. Doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-2871-2020-03-06

De Molli, Federica & De Paoli, Donatella (2020)

Middle managers in open-plan offices: feeling free and frustrated

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 11(3), s. 231- 246. Doi: 10.1504/IJWOE.2020.111317

Following the spatial turn in organisation studies, this research attempts to investigate the relation between designed organisational space and organisational control. In particular, the study explores how middle managers experience control in open-plan offices and how this affects their feelings and daily work activities. Through a study of a major Norwegian telecom company - which has redesigned its headquarters, transforming them from traditional closed offices to open-plan offices - this paper illustrates the experience of ambivalence felt by middle managers in the studied environment, which is perceived by managers as a tension between feeling empowered and in control versus feeling trapped and controlled. We illustrate how this ambivalence emerges through the interplay of various feelings connected to seduction, equality, performance evaluation, enacting control and being controlled, frustration and the need to escape. The findings show how this contradictory experience negatively affects middle managers' daily work activities.

Røyseng, Sigrid; De Paoli, Donatella & Wennes, Grete (2020)

As You like It! How Performance Measurement Affects Professional Autonomy in the Norwegian Public Theater Sector

The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 50(1), s. 52- 66. Doi: 10.1080/10632921.2019.1693458 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

The aim of this article is to study the effects of performance measurement on professional autonomy in the Norwegian theater sector and how these effects have changed over two decades, from the 1990s to the 2010s. We do this by introducing the concepts of decoupling and disciplinary power and by studying the dialogue between five case theaters and the Ministry of Culture as part of the system of Management by Objectives. We find effects both related to processes of decoupling and disciplinary power in this period, but the decoupling effects seem to be most notable in the first part of the period of the study. Consequently, we must also conclude that - though not totally in danger - the professional autonomy of the theaters was increasingly challenged during this period.

Vaagaasar, Anne Live; Müller, Ralf Josef & De Paoli, Donatella (2020)

Project managers adjust their leadership: to workspace and project type

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 13(2), s. 256- 276. Doi: 10.1108/IJMPB-05-2018-0098 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the triadic relationship between project workspace (i.e. spatial context), project type and project manager’s leadership style. It develops the concept of leadership construct (i.e. mental models of leadership to predispose the way leadership is performed) to explain related preferences for workspace and behaviors.

Gaustad, Terje & De Paoli, Donatella (2017)

New Faculty Roles in Online Education: The Professor as Writer, Director, Actor and Producer?

Tveiten, Oddgeir (red.). Smart Universities: Education´s Digital Future

Ropo, Arja; De Paoli, Donatella & Bathurst, Ralph (2017)

Aesthetic leadership in the arts

Mumford, Michael M. & Hemlin, Sven (red.). Handbook of research on leadership and creativity

De Paoli, Donatella; Sauer, Erika & Ropo, Arja (2017)

The spatial context of organizations: Critique of creative workspaces’

Journal of Management & Organization, 25(2), s. 331- 352. Doi: 10.1017/jmo.2017.46 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

This paper examines office design as a spatial context of organizations. Organizations increasingly invest in designing workspaces to support employee creativity, foster company innovation and communicate a positive company image. This paper takes a critical view of this ‘hype’ by describing and analysing images of the headquarters of allegedly ‘creative workspaces’ published on the Internet across a broad range of industries and corporations. Our analysis shows how their design follows standardized or stereotypical approaches to nurturing creativity: playfully or artistically designed open spaces, environments reminiscent of home, sports and play, nature, past/future technologies, or culturally aligned symbols. We discern underlying connections between office spaces and creativity, suggesting that creativity flourishes in happy, relaxed and playful communities within close-knit teams. We then identify three contradictions in relation to the existing literature on creativity and workspaces: individually versus collectively produced creativity; professionally designed workspaces versus workspaces created through participation; and planned versus emerging creativity.

De Paoli, Donatella & Ropo, Arja (2017)

Creative workspaces - a fad or making real impact?

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 19(3), s. 157- 167. Doi: 10.1108/JCRE-09-2016-0029 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the current trend of designing workspaces to foster creativity. The paper brings forth themes that seem to be connected with the so-called ‘creative workspaces’. The paper discusses how the findings relate to recent theory and research. Finally, the paper develops propositions to further elaborate the issue. Design/methodology/approach The paper adopts an inductive and social constructionist approach. In all, 40 internet pictures of workspaces claimed to be creative among a broad range of industries and companies which were analyzed through an aesthetic lens and compared to what theory and research about organizational creativity and space inform us. Findings The designs of ‘creative workspaces’ follow a rather standardized and deterministic assumption of what kind of spaces are considered to produce creativity: open offices, happy, playful communities of close-knit teams and spatial arrangements that resemble home, symbols and memories, sports, technology and nature. This view of creativity and workspaces remains a management fad unless a more balanced approach to the issue is assumed. Research limitations/implications The sample is not to be representative and the findings generalizable as such, but to bring forth the phenomenon. This exploratory and inductive approach calls for a systematic study to prove the propositions in a more controlled research setting and with a bigger sample. Practical implications The paper makes a few suggestions of what companies should pay attention to when building workspaces to improve organizational creativity – and to overcome the fad. Social implications The proposed end-user perspective may ultimately save costs, if people can voice their needs on the space arrangements from the beginning and throughout the building process, not only after the spaces are fully complete, as is typically the case. Originality/value The paper provides a critical view on the trend of building work spaces to purposefully enhance organizational creativity. It brings forth themes that are connected to creativity and workspace designs and suggests that more nuances are involved in the issue.

De Paoli, Donatella; Røyseng, Sigrid & Wennes, Grete (2017)

Embodied work and leadership in a digital age – what can we learn from theatres?

Organizational Aesthetics, 6(1), s. 99- 115. - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Røyseng, Sigrid; Wennes, Grete & De Paoli, Donatella (2017)

Konsekvenser av målstyring i kunsten

Praktisk økonomi & finans, 33 [i.e. 34](2), s. 172- 188. Doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-2871-2017-02-03 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

De Paoli, Donatella (2015)

Virtual Organizations: a call for new leadership

Ropo, Arja; Salovaara, Perttu, Sauer, Erika & De Paoli, Donatella (red.). Leadership in spaces and places

Ropo, Arja; Salovaara, Perttu, Sauer, Erika & De Paoli, Donatella (2015)

Leadership in spaces and places

Edward Elgar Publishing.

De Paoli, Donatella & Ropo, Arja (2015)

Open plan offices – the response to leadership challenges of virtual project work?

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 17(1), s. 63- 74. Doi: 10.1108/JCRE-08-2014-0020

De Paoli, Donatella; Ropo, Arja & Sauer, Erika (2014)

Disappearing Bodies in Virtual Leadership?

Ladkin, Donna & Taylor, Steven S. (red.). The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities.

De Paoli, Donatella; Arge, Kirsten & Blakstad, Siri Hunnes (2013)

Creating business value with open space flexible offices

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 15(3/4), s. 181- 193. Doi: 10.1108/JCRE-11-2012-0028

De Paoli, Donatella (2012)

Leadership and change management: The case of the Norwegian National Museum of Art

Cast, Jo (red.). Arts leadership : international case studies

Bille, Trine & De Paoli, Donatella (2012)

Approaches to stimulate and support the cultural entrepreneur : the case of Denmark and Norway

Hagoort, Giep; Thomassen, Aukje & Kooyman, Rene (red.). Pioneering minds worldwide : on the entrepreneurial principles of the cultural and creative industries: actual insights into cultural and creative entrepreneurship research

Grenness, Tor & De Paoli, Donatella (2012)

Building and transferring corporate culture and leadership philosophy through alternative workplace design. The case of Telenor Norway

Journal of the Moscow State University, s. 29- 55.

De Paoli, Donatella (2010)

Kultur og næring. Richard Florida - redningsmann eller rottefanger?

Konferanserapport fra Senter for kultur- og idrettsstudiar

De Paoli, Donatella (2009)

Endring av kunstorganisasjoner - eksemplet Nasjonalmuseet for kunst

Magma - Tidsskrift for økonomi og ledelse, 12(9), s. 48- 55.

Elstad, Beate & De Paoli, Donatella (2008)

Organisering og ledelse av kunst og kultur

Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

De Paoli, Donatella (2006)

Opplevelsesøkonomi som fagfelt i Norge keiserens nye klær?

Magma - Tidsskrift for økonomi og ledelse, 9(3), s. 76- 80.

Gran, Anne-Britt & De Paoli, Donatella (2005)

Hvorfor kunst og kapital nå? Nye strømninger i næringslivet

Magma - Tidsskrift for økonomi og ledelse, 8(5), s. 20- 27.

Gran, Anne-Britt; De Paoli, Donatella, Langdalen, Jørgen & Danielsen, Anne (2003)

Kunsten å hellige middelet - nye forbindelser mellom kunst og næringsliv

Danielsen, Anne (red.). Kunsten å hellige middelet - nye forbindelser mellom kunst og næringsliv

De Paoli, Donatella (2003)

The aesthetic organisation

The art of sanctify the instrument - about new relations between art and business

De Paoli, Donatella & Arge, Kirsten (2001)

Strategic Workplace Design

Facility Management - Risks & Opportunities / Bev Nutt (ed.)

De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

E24, nettavisen til DN: Stor undersøkelse: - Viser at selskaper med ambisjoner må ha kvinner i toppledelsen

E24 [Avis]

De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

Finansavisen 'Jeg er partybremsen' 24.03.2018

Finansavisen [Avis]

De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

Klassekampen 'Snakkisen Donatella De Paoli' Kultur og Medier

Klassekampten [Avis]

De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

NRK TV Kontoret 25.04.2018


De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

Deltagelse NRK P2 Salongen 'Primadonna Donatella De Paoli'

NRK [Radio]

De Paoli, Donatella (2016)

Kunsten å lede primadonnaer

NRK Ytring [Internett]

De Paoli, Donatella & Ugo, Fermariello (2015)

Ledelse av primadonnaer - Arbeidskonflikt ved Den Norske Opera

NRK Kulturnytt P2 [Radio]

De Paoli, Donatella (2015)

Arabeidskonflikt i Den Norske Opera - operasjef Per Boye Hansen får ikke forlenget åremålet sitt

NRK - Dagsnytt 18 [TV]

De Paoli, Donatella (2014)

Kvotering av innvandrere til kulturstyrer og ledelse

NRK, P2 [Kronikk]

De Paoli, Donatella (2014)

Dagsnytt 18 - Diskusjon med kulturminister. Kvotering til norske kulturstyrer og ledelse


Gaustad, Terje & De Paoli, Donatella (2014)

En utredning til besvær

Dagens næringsliv [Kronikk]

De Paoli, Donatella (2012)

Involvering av innvandrerbarn i kunst- og kultur

NRK P2 Kulturnytt [Radio]

De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2011)

Italiensk økonomisk politikk og Berlusconi

NRK Dagsnytt 18 [TV]

De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2011)

Høyt gjennomtrekk av internasjonale kunstneriske ledere i norske kunstinstitusjoner/ organisasjoner

NRK Dagsrevyen [TV]

Røyseng, Sigrid; Gaustad, Terje, Eidsvold-Tøien, Irina & De Paoli, Donatella (1)

Grenseløs norsk film – mellom Hollywood og lokal patriotisme

Dagsavisen - Nye Meninger [Kronikk]

De Paoli, Donatella (1)

Ledelse av folk du ikke ser

Kapital [Kronikk]

De Paoli, Donatella & Gaustad, Terje (1)

Film som kultur og næring - en utredning til besvær

Dagens næringsliv [Kronikk]

De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2022)

How to foster creativity and innovation in everyday workspaces? – the case of cultural entrepreneurs

[Academic lecture]. The 38th EGOS Colloquium.

Gaustad, Terje; Erni, Lukas & De Paoli, Donatella (2021)

Storytelling as arts-based intervention for transformative change: Overcoming story-making skills barriers

[Academic lecture]. 37th EGOS Colloquium.

Foss, Lene & De Paoli, Donatella (2019)

How does network funding enhance cultural and artistic collaboration across regions?

[Academic lecture]. ISBE Konferanse.

De Paoli, Donatella & De Molli, F (2019)

Artists and Networks: How the change of organizational space affects individual creativity.

[Academic lecture]. 15th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management.

De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

Constructing 'sacred' moments for creativity - Learning from theatres.

[Academic lecture]. EGOS.

Traavik, Laura E. Mercer & De Paoli, Donatella (2018)

Do material artifacts act as conduits of emotional abuse?

[Academic lecture]. The Nordic Work Life Conference 2018.

De Paoli, Donatella & Ropo, Arja (2017)

Middle-level managers in an open-plan office under double control

[Academic lecture]. EGOS.

Through the case of an international telecom company, investing in grandiose elegant facilities and implementing open-plan offices, we tell the story of how middle-level managers are at the same time seduced and suppressed. Using a spatial power and control organizational perspective, we analyze interview data of 20 middle-level managers across functions and show how the architecture and open-plan offices are creating ‘illusions of control’. Middle-level managers feel free, empowered and in control in the open-plan offices, while at the same time being controlled regularly by several management performance systems. Elaborate on the surveillance by their employees and colleagues, spatial control of middle-level managers. We illustrate, through an analysis of respondents’ perception of the built space, how spatial control through enchantment is obscuring power executed by performance evaluations systems. Middle-level managers are reporting challenges being managers in open-plan offices, in addition having developed various escape strategies to get their work done. While in a short time perspective, this tension seems to be positive for organizational high-performance, in the long run, this situation may put an unlivable burden for middle-level managers’ situation.

Gaustad, Terje & De Paoli, Donatella (2017)

New Faculty Roles in Online Education: the Professor as Writer, Director, Actor and Producer?

[Academic lecture]. World Learning Summit.

De Paoli, Donatella; Røyseng, Sigrid & Wennes, Grete (2016)

Hva kan ledere lære av teateret?

[Popular scientific article]. BI Business Review

Wennes, Grete; Røyseng, Sigrid & De Paoli, Donatella (2016)

Wennes, G., Røyseng, S. and De Paoli, D. (2016) Changing values in the public art sector? Rethinking leadership in the arts towards value-based leadership. Paper presentert på ‘International Studies Leadership Conference’ (ISLC), 11 – 13 December 2016, Edinburgh

[Academic lecture]. International Studies Leadership Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella; Røyseng, Sigrid & Wennes, Grete (2016)

Embodiment, space and technology in the leadership of theatre productions

[Academic lecture]. ABC - Colloquia.

De Paoli, Donatella (2016)

Hva kan ledere lære fra teatret?

[Popular scientific article]. BI Leadership Magazine

De Paoli, Donatella & Gaustad, Terje (2016)

Film as Arts-based Intervention in Management - the case of Hollywood storytelling

[Academic lecture]. the Eight Art of Management and Organization Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella & Ropo, Arja (2016)

Leadership in a digital time calls for rethinking leadership

[Academic lecture]. International Studying Leadership Conference.

Ropo, Arja; De Paoli, Donatella, Salovaara, Perttu & Sauer, Erika (2015)

Why does space need to be taken seriously in leadership and organization studies and practice?

Ropo, Arja; Salovaara, Perttu, Sauer, Erika & De Paoli, Donatella (red.). Leadership in spaces and places

De Paoli, Donatella (2015)

Re-conceptualizing Leadership and its Development: Space, Place and the Virtual World

[Academic lecture]. APROS-EGOS Conference.

Salovaara, Perttu; Ropo, Arja & De Paoli, Donatella (2015)

Space and Materiality in Organizations

[Academic lecture]. 31st EGOS Colloquium 2015.

Røyseng, Sigrid; De Paoli, Donatella & Wennes, Grete (2015)

Decoupled, Disciplined or Both? The Effects of the System of Management by Objectives in Norwegian Theatres

[Academic lecture]. NIT 2015.

De Paoli, Donatella; Røyseng, Sigrid & Wennes, Grete (2014)

Embodied Leadership in a Virtual Age - What can we learn from theatres?

[Academic lecture]. International Studying Leadership Conference 2014.

Elstad, Beate & De Paoli, Donatella (2014)

Organisering og ledelse av kunst og kultur

[Scientific book]. Cappelen Damm.

De Paoli, Donatella; Vaagaasar, Anne Live & Müller, Ralf (2013)

Project Leadership and Work Space

[Academic lecture]. IRNOP XI Conference (International Research Network for Organizing by Projects).

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Ropo, Arja (2012)

Leadership, virtual teamwork and space

[Academic lecture]. 11th ISLC International Studying Leadership Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria; Ropo, Arja, Sauer, Erika & Salovaara, Perttu (2012)

Critique of creative space and leading creativity

[Academic lecture]. The Sixt Art of Management Conference and Organzation Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Vaagaasar, Anne Live (2012)

The role of space and place for project work

[Academic lecture]. 28th EGOS Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Ropo, Arja (2012)

Leadership in an open, flexible office space design

[Academic lecture]. 29th EGOS Conference.

Grenness, Tor & De Paoli, Donatella (2011)

Building and transferring corporate culture and leadership philosophy through alternative work place design. The case of Telenor, Norway

[Academic lecture]. The 9th EISAM workshop on International Strategy and Cross-Cultural Management. Moscow, Oct 21-22.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria; Ropo, Arja, Salovaara, Perttu & Sauer, Erika (2011)


[Academic lecture]. EGOS.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria; Ropo, Arja, Kujala, Johanna & Salovaara, Perttu (2011)

Space performing leadership and ethics

[Academic lecture]. 10th ISLC International Studying Leadership Conference.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Grenness, Tor (2011)

Tansfer of Telenors Scandinavian Workform, leadership philosophy and alternative office space design in Asia

[Academic lecture]. 9th Workshop on International Strategy and Cross Cultural Management.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2011)

The role of leadership in changing art institutions - the case of the National Museum of Art in Norway

[Academic lecture]. 11th AIMAC International Conference of Arts Management.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Grenness, Tor (2011)

Building and transferring corporate culture and leadership philosophy through alternative workplace design. The case of Telenor

[Academic lecture]. NORKOMM(5)Nordic Research Seminar on Communication,2011,.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria & Hansen, Tor Borgar (2010)

To mål - to midler. Økt kunnskap om virkemidler i kulturnæringene

[Report]. Nærings- og handelsdept..

Myrtveit, Ingunn & De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2009)

Leading and manageing creative projects – transferring competence between arts and business

[Academic lecture]. Creative Economy and Beyond conference.

De Paoli, Donatella Maria (2009)

Networks in arts and culture – a categorization by purpose and performance level

[Academic lecture]. AIMAC, 10th International Conference of Arts and Cultural Management.

Bjerke, Rune; Ind, Nicholas & De Paoli, Donatella (2007)

The impact of aesthetics on employee satisfaction and motivation

[Article in business/trade/industry journal]. EuroMed Journal of Business, 2(1)

Gran, Anne-Britt & De Paoli, Donatella (2005)

Kunst og kapital ? nye forbindelser mellom kunst, estetikk og næringsliv

[Scientific book]. Pax Forlag.

Bjerke, Rune & De Paoli, Donatella (2004)

The impact of aesthetics on employee satisfaction, identity, creativity, mood and motivation

[Academic lecture]. The European Academy of Management.

De Paoli, Donatella & Wennes, Grete (2004)

Measuring the Arts - the Case of Norwegian Public Theatres

[Academic lecture]. The Second Art of Management and Organisation Conference.

Wennes, Grete & De Paoli, Donatella (2004)

Measuring the Arts : the Case of Norwegian public Theatres

[Report]. Høgskolen i Sør-Trøndelag, avdeling Trondheim økonomiske høgskole.

This article is signalling the start of a large debate (ref. to an article in Aftenposten)about the purpose and consequences of installing quantitative performance measures in public theatres and management by objectives, amongst other things.

De Paoli, Donatella (2003)

A critical perspective on corporate branding

[Academic lecture]. Eiasm.

De Paoli, Donatella & Strønen, Fred (2003)

Strategic Use of Work Place Design

[Academic lecture]. Euram Conference.

Colbjørnsen, Tom; De Paoli, Donatella & Jakobsen, Erik W. (1997)

Processforbedring, organisering og medvirkning i Pripps Ringnes (Process improvement, organizational design and participation in Pripps Ringnes)

[Report]. Administrativt Forskningsfond ved NHH.

Rapporten diskuterer hvordan det kan utvikles mer fleksible grensesni tt i verdikjeden i Pripps-Ringnes produksjonsanlegg. The report discusses how production process efficiency may be improve d by developing more flexible interfaces between different stages in the value chain.

Gran, Anne-Britt & De Paoli, Donatella (1991)

Teaterorganisering – en tverrfaglig tilnærming

[Report]. Arbeidsnotat Handelshøyskolen BI.

Akademisk grad
År Akademisk institusjon Grad
1996 Norwegian School of Economics, NHH Ph.D Dr. Oecon.
1989 BI Norwegian Business School Master of Science in Business
År Arbeidsgiver Tittel
1999 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Associate Professor
2011 - 2014 University of Tampere Researcher
2006 - 2009 The Strategic Danish Research Agency Member Program Committee
1999 - 2001 Norwegian Building Research Institute Researcher
1996 - 1999 AFF at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Adm, NHH Consultant
1995 - 1996 Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Researcher