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Professors make music of research

Published: 10 June 2016

"Doing research is easier if you follow the rules, but harder if you try to bend them." This says the professors Johan Sandström and Tommy Jensen on their new Spotify album Spaceland. The music is a result of their research on labour processes and power relations in the mines.

– We are narrative researchers who write stories. This is why the music has occurred. It is a way to convey impressions and experiences that do not fit within scientific research papers, says Tommy Jensen, Professor in Management and Organizational Theory at the University of Stockholm.

Organizing Rocks is the project where Johan Sandström, Professor in Business Administration at Luleå University of Technology, and Tommy Jensen are visiting mines and the surrounding community. They study a uranium mine in Canada, and LKAB mine in Kiruna. The researchers want to find out how a modern mine is organized today, but with a much broader perspective than normal organizational studies.

– We met a woman who drives a truck underground in Kiruna. We asked her to tell us about her job. She said, "You will never understand. You have to go with me. "So we did it, says Johan Sandström.

Johan Sandstrom describes the experience of being in the mine, as a full body experience. It's dark, crowded and a lot of traffic. It smells and sounds in a special way, and employees testify that the rock emit different sounds at different depths.

– When we began to ask ourselves how we could convey this, the music became an answer, says Johan Sandström.

The song about the truck was named Metal Machine Emotions. And this is just one of many experiences that later became a track on the Spotify album.

– We felt that there must be other ways to communicate our research findings, than by writing scientific papers, says Tommy Jensen.

– You can see our project as a resistance movement against the recent growing focus on Publish or persish, the growing and too one-sided focus on writing scientific articles, concludes Johan Sandström.


Johan Sandström

Johan Sandström, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 493113
Organisation: Accounting and Control, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts