My fascination with the material world led me to investigate more closely how design is used to imbue objects with aesthetic and symbolic properties that enhance their value for consumers. Early efforts aimed at theorizing the processes, resources and capabilities that enable organizations to infuse their products with symbolic value (Ravasi & Rindova, 2008; Ravasi, Rindova & Stigliani, 2011; Ravasi, Rindova & Dalpiaz, 2012). This work drew on cultural sociology and the anthropology of consumption, and was foundational to later projects resting on a deeper understanding of socio-cultural processes surrounding meaning-making in and around organizations (Sasaki, Nummela & Ravasi, 2020).
This project pioneered the idea that products could be carriers of valuable meanings at a time when management scholars largely assumed that innovation and competition were primarily driven by functional and economic properties of products and technologies. It contributed to sensitize organizational scholars to the importance of design, aesthetics, and symbolism in the process of cultural production that organizations are involved in, and was inspirational to later theoretical and empirical work on the topic.