On a theoretical level, complexity theory offers an emergence-based insight into organizing. The unicity of events, the undetermined nature of creative change, and the multifarious nature of circumstances are all honored. But how can (successful or unsuccessful) self-organizing be studied? If organizing really can be self-organizing, how could a researcher perceive it? Either the observer is entirely outside of the change process and is unmoved or unaltered by it -- i.e. only able to see the change from its exterior; or the observer changes with the change process and is part and parcel of it. If one is inside the change, how can one observe it; and if one is outside, how could one experience it? If self-organization really can occur, how could self-organization organize organization without betraying emergence and becoming just another form of control? To examine these issues a case is presented and then interpreted with use of a perspective inspired by (some aspects of) Luhmann, and via Luhmann, Serres (Luhmann, 1997, 2003; Serres, 1982).
Digital technology and software networks enable large numbers of knowledge workers to incorporate themselves wherever and whenever they wish and to choose between a sedentary or nomadic lifestyle. One way of configuring these new circumstances is as the extensive power of people, products and markets to speedily overcome obstacles and span distances. However, we increasingly see nonrepresentative corporations accelerating human pace and swallowing open spaces within the rational administrative control of a new supranational “Empire”. Intensive movement, on the other hand, reconfigures the human condition in ways that politically and ethically engage with universalizing global processes. Like the traditional nomads of the steppe or the desert, for example, the movement in question is a complex, dynamic relation characterized by its immediacy and continuous variation of alliance and resistance, that remains difficult to locate, difficult to control, and even more difficult to defeat. The paper argues that nomadism can be a starting point for an opposing strategy to the global knowledge economy.
The application of the rhizome to the study of organization is examined. A use of the rhizome which reflects its expansive and ephemeral nature, rather than one which forecloses its conceptual possibilities, is promoted. This nature is examined in relation to its development from Deleuzian concepts of desire and virtuality. Examples of the use of the rhizome in the study of organization are analyzed for the conceptual potential that they offer and critiqued where they close off this potential. It is suggested that an interplay – between the use and appropriation of the rhizome in the study of organization and the building of rhizomatic ontologies of flow – is desirable for maintaining the rhizome as an open and useful concept.
Organisational systems communicate and create themselves through decisions and therefore consist of nothing but premises for decision making (Luhmann 1993, Seidl & Becker 2006). Organisations are founded on principles of exclusion: Everybody is excluded from organisational communication except those who are members of the organisation i.e. who are included in the decision-making (Luhmann 1982, 1994, 2003, Andersen 2003b). Membership limitation, without subscribing to a rigid definition of membership, is therefore central to the autopoiesis of organisation.
Recent theories of technology have argued that in order to take constructivism seriously we need to understand technologies as organizational texts, replacing the study of technological artefacts with an appreciation of the ways in which these ‘texts’ are read, or interpreted, in specific situations. Whilst such approaches offer an effective critique of determinism in explanations of technological change, they also raise some interesting questions around the nature of the human subject which have been given a less comprehensive treatment in the literature. This paper contributes to the development of a thoroughgoing antiessentialism in theories of technology and organization by considering Deleuze and Guattari’s radical constructionist critique of the subject. Placing the technocentric metaphor of ‘the machine’ at the heart of subjectivization, Deleuze and Guattari’s decentring of the human subject offers a fully symmetrical anti-essentialism, capable of accounting for the non-human forces at work in the constitution of human subjectivity.
A sense of loss of identity exists in modern Kronos capitalism with its constant need to devour its own reproductions in order to survive. Discovery of identity comes through deconstruction and techniques of mysticism which are seen as similar processes. Identity is defined in terms of awareness of multiple levels of being. Understanding of identity lies in the successive abandonment of all kinds of schema or conditioning processes which we summarize by the term organizational grammar.
In this paper I wish to make, or perhaps force a link between three very distinct sets of debates in organization studies. The first concerns the status of 'memory' in organizational terms, and how to best preserve shared knowledge, as defined by Walsh & Ungson (1991). The second deals with the repression and expression of emotion in organized settings, as exemplified in the classic work of Arlie Hochschild (2003). The third is a less well known methodological debate about the politics of 'giving voice' and 'remaining silent' (Morrison & Milliken, 2003). At first glance all three debates - concerning memory, emotion, voice - seem to share a common social psychological orientation. But exploring the character of this common thread is not primary what I want to set out to achieve. I wish instead to demonstrate that what is at stake in all three debates is how organization studies 'thinks with' and 'thinks against' its participants. I want to propose that what makes for the difference between these two strategies is taking seriously the temporal structuring of human action. To illustrate this claim I will work through an extended example - the use of public collective silence as a commemorative practice.
In this article, we outline our organizational change initiative, our “small experiment,” and our attempt to understand how organizational change is actually accomplished. It is our desire to first change our selves and how we perform gender and through this local initiative, to eventually change how our organization as a whole performs gender. In our effort to accomplish this goal, we began by attempting to understand the issue, our experience, and the performance of gender within our organization. Based upon these understandings and because of this understanding, we will identify initiatives that change our organization's performance of gender. Finally, in an attempt to understand the microprocesses of change, of how organizational change is accomplished - “its dynamic, unfolding, emergent qualities (in short its potential) (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002, 568),” we will document and attempt to understand our experience of change from within.
This paper is concerned with the theatre of organisational life. It gives particular attention to the work of the playwright Antonin Artaud and his relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. In every aspect of his life, Artaud was a man of extremes. His attempts to theatricalize his personal tortures and to find expression for them are excessively brutal and intensely physical. His relationship with the Catholic Church is likewise passionate and one of extremes. From daily communicant to heretic and blasphemer, back to communicant, then to repudiator, is a pattern of oscillation which runs throughout his life. His theatrical works reflect this tension. In later life, he comes to believe that he himself was crucified as a punishment for his disordered life. At times in his life he seems to crave the community of the Church and other times to despise the moral order the Church imposes on him. This paper attempts to look at Artaud's desire to examine experience in its raw state. The paper concludes by considering the way in which this oscillation is apparent in ambivalent attitudes to the organising power of the corporation and in the quasi Catholicism of organizational rituals and performances.
Spirituality and religion have gained increasing prominence in recent years. Several critical reviews of spirituality have pointed out ways in which spirituality can be misused by both employees and management. Yet, many of these critical authors are drawn toward a need for more spirituality in their own lives and work. This paper will review some ways in which spirituality can be misused or used as an addiction. We will then explore ways in which spirituality and spiritual practices can and have been used in a positive, healthy way in organizations.
Tristram Shandy deconstructs the conventions of the emerging modern novel almost as fast as its conventions were minted on the page by other 18th century writers. In consequence, readers of this early novel could not just consume the words on the page as they might do with a history but they required instead an aesthetics of disposal to help them to manage the endless digressions, the blanks in text, and the ambulation in chronology of this most disorganised of novels. In this paper listening to ruptures and fissures in the text is likened to the work of employees today, who similarly have to manage the inter-plays of convention and invention within the disorganisation of the contemporary corporation.
This article revisits a previously published case study of group dynamics that related to when a leader dies (or is absent). The conceptual lens used to re-read these group dynamics, is one derived from psychoanalysis and specifically features the notion of the death instinct and the work of C. Fred Alford. The paper frames its discussion of the case study using Alford's five dramas of “acting out the missing leader”. Like a drama, the paper locates the case study as a series of acts and scenes with a specific psychodynamic script that is being played-out. The paper has broader implications than simply “When a leader dies” as the discussion speaks to an understanding of larger leader - follower behaviour.
This special number of Tamara presents papers on systems, (im-)possibilities and possibilities of listening, which is a very rich theme, needing exploration. The articles are less applied and more experimental. They reflect the interest in applied philosophy found in portions of organizational and management studies in Europe.
Most theories of organisation express themselves through only one sense: that of sight. Can we begin to listen to organisations? If we examine ourselves in this [i.e. When we try], we find that, above and beyond our comprehension, nudging it, there are elements related to listening such as: silence, background noise, atmosphere and Stimmung. For instance, in listening to baroque music - such as, the Goldberg Variations of Bach - organisation is in a different topology. Concepts enter in of folds and of world, of Ritornello and of rhythm, of counterpoint and of harmony… all of which can help us to understand organisations, and thus to put forward new analyses. Can we think of life in its bosom?
This article is about why organizations should take time to understand and care for employees and why they probably do not. The discussion is set against the backdrop of stories from 28 people separated from the job in August 2000 during a downsizing event at TREBCO (pseudonym), a manufacturing automotive firm based in a large midwestern U.S. city. A total of 1,100 white-collar workers were sent away at that time. The first author presents findings from a qualitative study she conducted in 2001 to explore these workers' experiences of the same downsizing event and their perceptions about whether or not TREBCO knew that its decision might adversely affect some lives. She ends her section by suggesting that because of the varied experiences that emerged from the study and because of the unique relevancy structures from which each emerged, TREBCO should have taken time to know these employees as persons and found alternative means of achieving corporate profitability ends. The second author then presents a counter-argument based on some of the organizational literature that questions why TREBCO should care, from an organization's perspective. He also presents a position from a labor point of view, which argues that the proposed action may actually be detrimental to those same employees. The purpose of this paper is not to resolve this perspectival dilemma; rather, it is to promote dialog toward possible transformation.
This paper investigates sensemaking by rural community residents concerning a large scale, broad band computer network - the Alberta SuperNet. Our goal is to understand the impacts of this broad band network on rural communities and to use critical theory to understand these impacts. Data were collected during 9 town hall meetings held in rural communities. Discussions during the meetings were recorded, transcribed and digitized. We identified key themes in the discussions and focused on opportunities and risks rural residents conceived as emerging from SuperNet. We investigate the personal and collective identities constructed during the town hall meetings. We then interpret the data in terms of Habermasian critical theory and the risk society thesis of Ulrich Beck.
What would have happened if the strategy concepts were not based on Clausewitz but on Sun Tzu for example? To answer this question, we recommend using metaphors with a certain number of precautions, which have to be respected. The key concepts of Ki, Kokyu and Ma-ai serve to better define the notions of energy, flow of energy and distance/time/space relationships. Each of these has its practical application in the management of an organization, enabling us to conclude by proposing a new vision of the company and its links with its environment.
Alors que 2007 a été déclarée année européenne pour l'égalité des chances, un nombre toujours plus important d'entreprises affichent leurs engagements en termes de lutte contre la discrimination et de valorisation de la diversité. Les actions promouvant l'égalité entre les sexes ou l'intégration des personnes handicapés, sont ainsi très largement avancées comme une preuve du caractère responsable des entreprises. Dans le même temps, la prise en compte de la diversité confessionnelle laisse place à un silence pesant. Or, selon une étude de la Commission Européenne réalisée en 20071 , sur l'état des discriminations en Europe, la France est le pays des 25 où l'existence de discrimination liée aux convictions religieuses est le plus fortement ressentie. A travers une approche transdisciplinaire mêlant apports de la sociologie, de l'anthropologie et des sciences de gestion, un travail de déconstruction a, à ce propos, été entrepris. Au plus loin des « effets cosmétiques » des autres actions engagées sous couvert de diversité, la diversité confessionnelle donne lieu à de réelles pratiques, dans les entreprises françaises aujourd'hui. Or, si ces pratiques semblent répondre à un réel besoin des entreprises comme de leurs salariés, elles apparaissent toujours plus ou moins occultées. S'appuyant sur une contextualisation du questionnement actuel sur la diversité confessionnelle en France, une approche itérative associant analyse théorique et expression des acteurs de terrains (responsables de la diversité et responsables de cabinet spécialisés dans la gestion de la diversité), pourra permettre d'éclairer les raisons du silence des organisations vis-à-vis d'une problématique essentielle au tissage d'un lien social durable vis-à-vis d'une population salariale hétérogène.