Two influential perspectives in organizational studies that focus on different aspects of enabling, constraining, and forming organizational action are the notion of sensemaking and the influence of material objects on organizational functioning. This paper explores the coupling of these two perspectives, which often are seen as opposite. Based on evidence from two case studies, we argue that these perspectives, taken together, unlock a deeper understanding of the processes that unfold in organizations and call attention to the materiality of sensemaking as important to understanding organizations.
Robert Cooper has developed a discourse of organizing, centered on relationality. It is a discourse grounded in third generation phenomenology and pointing to fourth generation phenomenology. Phenomenology in its first (Husserl) and second (Merleau-Ponty) generations developed the epoché (procedure of investigation) whereby research transcended the natural attitude and forged contact between the researched and the researcher. Progressively logocentric 're-presenting' was transcended in (third generation) phenomenology via empathy and intersubjective awareness. Phenomenological 'research' has become the creation of dialogic and empatic identity. Despite the potential richness of such research, the ethics of shared awareness and involvement continues to pose major problems of consequentiality. If research is based on empathy and relationship, how does the researcher do justice to relationality? Without a clear link between awareness and action, it is very difficult for phenomenology to develop as a dialogic form of organizational studies. Ontological insight into the pre-structures of the life-world, however philosophically fundamental, will not suffice. Phenomenological research understood as a complex adaptive system (CAS), is (potentially) an alternative that respects relationality and honors the ethics of empathy. But truly radical relationality - for instance, embodied in the (very) flesh of life --- (in fourth generation phenomenology), challenges the very possibility of organizational studies.
The ideas in this paper were initially explored at the Organisational Theatre summit, co- ordinated by learning Lab., Denmark at Lisegaarden near Copenhagen in March 2005. Working in collaboration with a group of actors and theatre practitioners; approaches to the phenomenon of rehearsal were discussed and a short play was devised and performed to communicate our findings to the rest of the conference. This paper arose from further reflection on those discussions and includes a transcript of the short play devised: The paper offers some reflections on the phenomenon of 'rehearsing' as practiced in theatre. It also represents our view on the usefulness of rehearsal as a model for the development of new products especially services and the possible value of this concept in the context of organizations, especially the management of professional service firms.
v rge-scale change at the institutional level is built on four major foundations: change theory, institutional theory, organizational culture and leadership, and contextual discourse and rhetorical persuasion. Thomas Paine's writings, a provocative stimulus for the new United States of America during its revolutionary crisis, employed all four of these in creating the nation's new “story.” In this case, the institution is the pre-Revolutionary concept of governance and the change, driven by multiple forces, is the breaking away of the 13 colonies from England. Paine's powerful pamphlet, “Common Sense”, as well as his other writings, reflected his rhetorical expertise and served as a cognitive foundation upon which the fledgling nation could build its new script and create new processes of institutional governance. As any good storyteller does, Paine engaged his readers in a conversation that allowed them to construct an organizational reality that articulated their collective identity. He was the change agent whose interventions helped with the birth of a new nation. One Paine biographer (Kaye, 2005) argues that Paine's “rhetorical patterns” helped to create the “vision of America as a nation gifted with a special mission” and are still quoted by Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians alike without apology (Ferguson, 2000).
Security work is increasingly privatized under neoliberal governance, a trend that is not without controversy over legitimacy and ethics. Public interaction with and understanding of private security contractors is in part mediated by popular cultural representations. In particular, parodies of these organizations are significant for their ability to tell audiences what organizations and members are not. This paper examines representations of security work by looking at Paul Blart: Mall Cop as a parody that creates relief from official hierarchies of security using Bakhtinian carnival, by lowering security discourses to the level of the grotesque, non-professional body. However, parodies may also encourage public acceptance of privatization by showing private security workers to be more creative and efficient. Parodies of security work can serve as temporary relief from daily need to comply with security regimes, while also aligning privatized security work with discourses of professionalism and authority.
In this conceptual paper, we analyze how social acceleration as a key phenomenon of modern societies affects the relationship between organizations and places. We identify two dimensions of how organizations relate to places: (a) embeddedness (the degree of material integration in a place) and (b) attachment (the psychic closeness, identification, or affective bonds with a place). Building on Rosa’s (2003; 2013) seminal work on social acceleration, we further propose three processes (the time-space distanciation effect, the situational identity effect, and the managerial myopia effect) through which temporal changes in modern societies can lead to a loosening of ties between organizations and places. As the attachment to a place may also represent a precondition for organizations to develop a ‘field of care,’ the framework presented in this paper can help us develop a better understanding of the factors that influence whether organizations can develop a ‘sense of place’ that fosters responsible social and environmental performance that enhances the well-being of places and communities, respectively.
The aim of this paper is to point to the potential value of an approach to management based on the idea of the common good, as opposed to classical capitalism based on private ownership. Such an approach makes it possible to resist a pursuit of short term oriented gains and a maximization of narrowly defined profits, and, instead, to focus on humanistic values, as to adopt a long term perspective. The much cited notion of the “tragedy of the commons” was based on deficient material and argumentation, but, most of all, it completely disregards of the issue of management. Using a case study developed through a longitudinal action research project in a big service enterprise we call “Soplicex”, we present the strategic process grounded in learning, as well as the building of a strong structure centred on teams. The engagement of the employees was, originally, strongly oriented towards the idea of the common good. The consultants and researchers adopted this principle as the guiding rule in their work with the organization. Even though the process was interrupted by the takeover by a foreign investor, we show how the findings of the study remain relevant for alternative organizing and managing today and in the future. The conclusions of this paper reach further than just being reflections on a historical case study: a model of management is presented, concerned with the care and protection of the common good.
In organizational theories inspired by process ontologies of Spinoza, Bergson, or Deleuze, an organization only seems to be the effect of ontological forces and therefore exist only retroacti vely and derivatively. Simply put, process ontologies tend to overemphasize the virtual, active ontological forces of becoming in organizations. These assumptions cause the negative and reactive understanding of organizational processes: organizations oppress, restrict, adjust, and regulate becoming. In this perspective, organizations are defective, inadequate, and politically reactionary. They are the negative antitype of the positive, productive, and creative ontological forces. In this article, I situate the problem of organizations and becoming using the concept of “virtualization.” For Deleuze, actualization is the expression of the virtual, resulting in the actual state of affairs, but once the state of affairs is actualized, there is a modulation or reciprocal folding, which affects the virtual; I suggest calling this “virtualization.” Thus, each actualiza tion in the social dimension – each founding of an organization – modulates the ontological conditions of future organizational events. This means that Deleuze provides not only a theory of organizational becoming but also a theory of virtualization – or the modulation of becoming – of organizations. The concept of virtualization is illustrated by drawing on organizational case studies, which have implications for the understanding of virtualization. Virtualization is a process of patterning, a (de)potentialization, but also a de- and reterritorialization. Primarily understood as virtualization, organization is a meta-stable process.
Organizational socialization research has been criticized for being too focused on socialization as an adaptation process. Furthermore, critics contend that socialization approaches tend to be micro-biased; they lose sight of broader societal implications. This study tackles both critiques by combining an identity-based understanding of socialization with the communicative con cept of the polyphonic organization. It is not only individuals who engage in multiple identity work; business organizations also do so when exposed to contextual voices at the macro-level of society. Qualitative interviews and focus groups with corporate communication professionals, alumni, and students reveal that there are multiple voices shaping organizational socialization. However, one societal reference has proved to be hegemonic, namely the instrumental reasoning of the economic system: newcomers are expected to adapt to the ‘real world’ of ‘budgets.’
The following are antenarratives related by female U.S. Coast Guard cadets (now officers in the Coast Guard) as part of a gender and leadership directed study taught by Dr. Matthew Eriksen. Also, there are antenarratives by Captain Robert Ayer and Dr. Matthew Eriksen concerning their response to The Conference on Women at the Academy in which the female cadets participated. As well as education, the purpose of the directed study was to fundamentally change the participants: their self-understanding, gender discourse and gender performance. In addition, the directed study was conceived as a medium through which to change the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's and Coast Guard's gender performance and ideology to improve the day-to-day experience of female cadets and officers. The approach taken in the directed study is outlined in the article “Conceptualizing and Engaging in Organizational Change as an Embodied Experience within a Practical Reflexivity Community of Practice: Gender Performance at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy” (Eriksen, Van Echo, Harmel Kane, Curran, Gustafson & Shults, 2007) in Tamara: 4(1).
This study envisions that both organizations and careers can be perceived as texts and examines the intertextuality of organizations and careers as organizations and individuals construct and reconstruct change through narrative. The study, exploratory in nature, investigates individual/career texts in the context of change and proposes an intertextual lens through which to juxtapose these texts with organizational texts.
This article considers the storytelling metaphor of the quest to examine the challenges social entrepreneurs face when working in nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the human condition. Similar to the hero on a quest, a social entrepreneur can face a point of deep despair and lose confidence in the organization's mission. From this place of deep despair, the powerful images from American Blues Music as presented by bluesman Willie King, offer a vision for hope, faith and love. Accordingly, the stories found in blues music can inspire a social entrepreneur on the quest for a more just society.
The evaluation of organizational change is a thorny issue. Firstly, accurate data depicting the organization's response to a change process are very difficult to collect, and the process can be corrupted by the Macnamara Fallacy. Secondly, the evaluative conclusions derived from the data are complex high-inference chains of reasoning based on implicit, taken-for-granted beliefs and values. Specifically, ontological and epistemological paradigms broadly determine the context for the conclusions of the evaluative inference, even though they are rarely made explicit. This paper presents two sets of ontological and epistemological paradigms; one set is modernist, and the other is postmodernist. It then applies them to organizational change data to demonstrate the divergent evaluations that can be constructed.
This paper draws on literature in the fields of organizational studies, industrial relations, and industrial sociology to attempt to address 'new paradigm' managerial initiatives that espouse sentiments of unitarism in their discourse from a UK perspective. The specific focus of this theoretical investigation is the output of the proponents of the 'Learning Organization'. It is argued that in such organizations, employers attempt to control and induce behavioural change in employees through the use of reorganization and instrumental discourse. Managerial commentators and theorists have written much about what the implementing agents' expectations are of the outcomes of such organizational initiatives. Among these expectations is that the new initiative will bring about a radical change in attitudes in the workplace and that unitarism will prevail. However, an as yet underdeveloped area of study is what happens when the subjects (i.e. employees) receive the initiative, the potential for counter-ideology and resistance to the initiative, and the forms resistance may take. It is these latter two issues that this paper concentrates on. Ultimately, the paper seeks to present a conceptual investigation of pluralism within, and the nature and implications of resistance in, the Learning Organization. An allusion to Beaumarchais' `Figaro' is used to illustrate the arguments.
This paper is a polemical critique of the current orthodoxy that the world is changing at an even faster rate, that organizations must adapt to this change in order to survive, and that change management techniques enable organizations to do this. There is no basis to evaluate the proposition that we face unprecedented rates of change, and change is not something to which organizations must respond, but is instead an outcome of organizational actions. Change management initiatives are largely failures, and the usual explanations for these failures are inadequate.
There is no doubt that health management can improve employee well-being and can have positive outcomes for the organization. But, the mere goodness of such programmes has to be questioned. First, the paper shows how health management activities fit in processes of discipline in our society as extensively analysed by Foucault particularly in his genealogical works. Second, it discusses possible normative implications of such a Foucauldian analysis. What is the alternative to taking care of employee health in organizations?
This paper reflects upon the 'goodness' or 'ethics' of Critical Management/Critical Organisation Studies (COS) research practices. I argue that academic representations of others entail an ethical responsibility to the researched, a responsibility that COS is, as yet, insufficiently exploring. Reflecting upon my own research with those who have colluded in discrimination and Stanley and Wise's (1979) research on obscene telephone callers, I explore the nature and limits of responsibility when researching those who have acted reprehensibly. I end by arguing that COS "owe(s) some responsibility to 'the researched' of all kinds, whether we morally approve of them or not" (Stanley and Wise 1993:177).
This paper argues that conventional patriarchal representations of the organisation reduce the notion of "organisation" to abstract relationships, rational actions and purposive behaviour which always and relentlessly presents itself as a quest for the good. In this context, regulation and control is achieved primarily via definition and location. Administration then functions in a very specific sense to establish a notion of "good"order, to establish what is "ordinary"in administrative and managerial practice. In contrast, this paper seeks to explore ways in which it is possible to restore the (m)other to the text of organisation, to restore the body. Consequently, the paper considers the possibility of a discourse of maternity and moves from this position to examine conceptions of matrix reproduction and conditions of exile. The paper concludes with a challenge to conventional notions of "good" management and a consideration of the implications of this for the political in organisational life.
Discusses articles on management and conception of goodness. Relationship between management and goodness; Opposition to Aristotelian notions of the good; Discussion on the conventional patriarchal representations of the organization.
The purpose of this paper is to explore how the ideas and theatrical practices of Bertold Brecht may be applied in organizational contexts. A model is developed that builds on Brechtian conceptions of alienation and integrates organizational learning and role theories. Specifically, the model suggests that role distance may be reconceptualized as a reflective, dialectic process that builds on Brecht's ideas for alienating actors and audiences from the familiar to demonstrate the changing and changeable nature of behavior. This reflective process in turn may facilitate non-routine, role-related learning. Implications for organizational theory and practice are discussed.