Now showing 1 - 10 of 72
  • Publication
    Problematising Practice: MacIntyre and Management
    (Sage, 2013-01)
    Alasdair MacIntyre's distinction between institutions and practices helps illuminate how powerful institutional forces frame and constrain the practice of organizational research as well as the output and positioning of scholarly journals like Organization.  Yet his conceptual frame is limited, not least because it is unclear whether the activity of managing is, or is not, a practice.  This paper builds on MacIntyre's ideas by incorporating Aristotle's concepts of poíēsis, praxis, téchnē and phrónēsis.  Rather than ask, following MacIntyre, whether management is a practice, this wider network of concepts provides a richer frame for understanding the nature of managing and the appropriate role for academia.  The paper outlines a phronetic paradigm for organizational inquiry, and concludes by briefly examining the implications of such a paradigm for research and learning.
      474Scopus© Citations 18
  • Publication
    Talking Organization
    (Taylor and Francis, 2014-04-22)
  • Publication
    The Quakers: Forgotten Pioneers
    (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018-06-29) ;
    This chapter argues that there is much to be learned about the origins of organizing through looking back at how the Quakers—who have been largely forgotten and overlooked in management and organization studies’ founding narratives—were organized and how they ran their businesses. The chapter is structured as follows. First, we present a brief description and history of the Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends, or simply Friends) from 1650 to c. 1880. Even though the Quakers underwent a number of schisms during their history, the various branches share a common ideology, which we summarise. Second, we focus on Quakers’ remarkable success in business and commerce, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This success has long been recognized by Quakers themselves and also by historians, even though it is largely absent from the history of management thought. Part of our objective is to better integrate this narrative into management and business history, which we do by describing the Quaker beliefs and practices that seemed to provide the basis for their success in business. We analyze these beliefs and practices in relation to contemporary debates within management and organization studies. Third, we proceed to examine the decline of Quaker businesses from the late nineteenth century onwards, a decline that we link with the rise of managerialism. We argue that the Quakers’ absence from the history of management thought is neither an accident nor an oversight, but rather is best understood as a deliberate, political act that benefited a new managerial elite that emerged out of mid-nineteenth century initiatives in corporate law. We conclude the chapter by reflecting on the lessons which might be learned through studying the Quakers and their approach to management and organization.
      382Scopus© Citations 4
  • Publication
    Sensemaking, safety, and situated communities in (con)temporary networks
    This paper discusses the difficulties involved in managing knowledge-intensive, multinational, multiorganisational, and multifunctional project networks. The study is based on a 2-year quasi-ethnography of one such network engaged in the design and development of a complex new process control system for an existing pharmaceutical plant in Ireland. The case describes how, drawing upon the organisational heritage of the corporations involved and the logic implicit within their global partnership arrangements, the project was initially structured in an aspatial manner that underestimated the complexity of the development process and the social relations required to support it. Following dissatisfaction with initial progress, a number of critical management interventions were made, which appeared to contribute to a recasting of the network ontology that facilitated the cultivation and protection of more appropriate communicative spaces. The case emphasises the need to move away from rationalistic assumptions about communication processes within projects of this nature, towards a richer conceptualisation of such enterprises as involving collective sensemaking activities within and between situated 'communities' of actors.Contrary to much contemporary writing, the paper argues that space and location are of crucial importance to our understanding of network forms of organising.
    Scopus© Citations 25  711
  • Publication
    Organisation as containment of acquisitive mimetic rivalry: The contribution of René Girard
    (Taylor and Francis, 2003) ;
    This paper considers relations between violence and organization as seen through the lens moulded by Rene Girard. This is because more than any other writer of his generation Girard postulates the primacy of violence in his sociological theorising. In this paper we first outline Girard's theory. Next we discuss this in relation to Freudian theories of organization. We then draw out some of the implications of his theory for the understanding of topics within Organization Theory, such as bureaucracy and sexual harassment. Finally we suggest a research agenda.
  • Publication
    The Bitcoin Game: Ethno-resonance as Method
    The global financial crisis and the contemporaneous emergence of the digital currency Bitcoin invite us to think about money and how it often functions almost imperceptibly in society. In this article, we show that Bitcoin is a ‘new object of concern’ that also compels us to reimagine ethnography in a digital age. We present a method, which we term ethno-resonance, that is both a reaction to the conditions presented by the Bitcoin phenomenon and a way of maintaining critical distance from its cyberlibertarian politics. We explicate six aspects of the method, framed around answers to what, why, how, who, when and where questions. Applied to cryptocurrencies, the method leads us to depict Bitcoin as a game, and we analyse the game’s dynamics through mapping the interplay between four foundational myths that animate, complicate and sustain the game. More broadly, this contributes to our understanding of the nature of money and alternative currencies.
    Scopus© Citations 8  878
  • Publication
    The relationship between new technologies and strategic activities
    (Taylor and Francis (Routledge), 2009) ;
    While 'new technology' and 'strategy' are pervasive and foundational to this journal's inquiry, each term is filled with ambiguity. This paper seeks to extend our understanding by developing a model relating technology to strategy. The model is a two-by-two frame based on the distinction between 'planned' vs 'emergent' strategy and 'latent' vs 'sensible' technology. The frame generates four distinct domains that we label 'development', 'capitalisation', 'creation' and 'cultivation'. The paper then considers the 'creation' quadrant through a case history of the stent industry. This case indicates that (a) new technologies lack the 'revolutionary' characteristic with which they are normally associated; (b) that the courthouse rather than the marketplace is an important if not primary domain where new technology firms compete; and (c) that new technology firms are much more aggressive when interacting with other new technology firms than they are with firms from the existing industry.
      482Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Finance past, Finance future: A brief exploration of the evolution of financial practices
    (Taylor and Francis (Routledge), 2014-04) ; ;
    As we work our way through the latest financial crisis, politicians seem both powerless to act convincingly and unable to craft from the welter of diverse and antagonistic narratives a coherent and convincing vision of the future. In this article, we argue that a temporal lens brings clarity to such confusion, and that thinking in terms of time and reflecting on privileged temporal structures helps to highlight underlying assumptions and distinguish different narratives from one another. We begin by articulating our understanding of temporality, and we proceed to apply this to the evolution of financial practice during different historical epochs as recently delineated by Gordon (2012). We argue that the principles of finance were effectively in place by the eighteenth century and that consequent developments are best conceptualized as phases in which one particular aspect is intensified. We find that in different historical periods, the temporal intensification associated with specific models of finance shifts, over history, from the past to the present to the future. We argue that a quite idiosyncratic understanding of the future has been intensified in the present phase, what we refer to as proximal future, and we explain how this has come to be. We then consider the ethical consequences of privileging an intensification of proximal future before mapping an alternative model centred on intensifying distal future, highlighting early signs of its potential emergence in the shadows of our present.
      477Scopus© Citations 6
  • Publication
    Institutional Heterogeneity and Change: The University as Fool
    (Sage Publications, 2009-07)
    While institutional theory has focused on the effect of institutions on individual organizations, this article addresses the relationships between institutions. Using a case history approach, it examines the relationship of one institution, the University, within an institutional complex. The study suggests that the University acts and has a role akin to the Fool in the medieval royal court. The Fool is embedded in a multiplicity of loyal yet agonistic relationships with a collection of 'Sovereign' institutions, such as the Church, the State, the Nation, the Corporation and the Professions. Akin to the Fool, the University's skills at normative narrating, sorting and playing are central to the creation and maintenance of a semiotic nexus and the process of institutionalization and de-institutionalization. In turn, these semiotic resources are utilized in the practice of educating. The article concludes by examining how the metaphor of the Fool provides a way of re-thinking these practices.
    Scopus© Citations 21  562
  • Publication
    The economic theology of Quakerism
    (Routledge, 2020-04-09) ;
    This chapter focuses on the practices of the liberal branch of Quakerism in England, Wales and Ireland from around 1650 to around 1930. Its aim to understand both the connections and the disconnections between theological values, business practice and economic thinking that created the possibilities and growth for Quaker businesspeople and which led to the eventual decline of what might be called the “Holy Experiment” of Quaker business. Quakerism was one outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation’s long wave begun by Martin Luther in 1517. Quakers have always emphasized the integration of inward reflection and outward action, and have ceased to wait “upon a miraculous event and turned to the present miracle that Christ was waiting to perform daily in their hearts”. Quakers’ success in business has to be understood in relation to the beliefs and practices that have been persistently reproduced since the Quakers emerged in the mid-seventeenth century.