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Thinking becoming and emergence: Process philosophy and organization studies

Thinking becoming and emergence: Process philosophy and organization studies
Thinking becoming and emergence: Process philosophy and organization studies
Process is an ambivalent term. Its use in organizational research and theorizing is widespread. Yet, there are important subtle differences in how the term is understood and employed in the study of organizing/organization. In this chapter, we show that thinking in terms of ceaseless change, emergence and the immanent becoming of things, entities and events are central to a proper appreciation of what it means to truly understand process in genuinely processual terms. From this process philosophical perspective, social entities such as individuals and organizations are construed as temporarily stabilized event clusters abstracted from a sea of constant flux and change. Such an approach to the understanding of organizational phenomena draws its inspiration from a tradition of thinkers from Heraclitus to twentieth-century process philosophers such as William James, Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead and beyond all of who, in one way or another, viewed reality in terms of ceaseless process, flux and transformation rather than as a stable world of unchanging entities. In what follows, we outline the key principles and axioms of process philosophy. We show that from a process philosophical outlook, primacy is accorded to becoming over being, difference over self-identity, and time and temporality over simple spatial location. We then examine the implications of process thinking for understanding organization as an ongoing ‘world-making’ phenomenon and show that the current interest in organizational sensemaking, organizational identity and entrepreneurial logic provides good illustrations of how and when process and emergence are taken seriously, our understanding of organizational situations can be vastly enriched.
0733-558X
281-309
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Nayak, Ajit
215d7e25-0bc4-44ff-a015-5daf887604df
Chia, Robert
beca64f1-27dd-4d12-b18c-91bb044d92a9
Tsoukas, Hardimos
Chia, Robert
Nayak, Ajit
215d7e25-0bc4-44ff-a015-5daf887604df
Chia, Robert
beca64f1-27dd-4d12-b18c-91bb044d92a9
Tsoukas, Hardimos
Chia, Robert

Nayak, Ajit and Chia, Robert (2011) Thinking becoming and emergence: Process philosophy and organization studies. In, Tsoukas, Hardimos and Chia, Robert (eds.) Philosophy and Organization Theory. (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 32) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 281-309.

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

Process is an ambivalent term. Its use in organizational research and theorizing is widespread. Yet, there are important subtle differences in how the term is understood and employed in the study of organizing/organization. In this chapter, we show that thinking in terms of ceaseless change, emergence and the immanent becoming of things, entities and events are central to a proper appreciation of what it means to truly understand process in genuinely processual terms. From this process philosophical perspective, social entities such as individuals and organizations are construed as temporarily stabilized event clusters abstracted from a sea of constant flux and change. Such an approach to the understanding of organizational phenomena draws its inspiration from a tradition of thinkers from Heraclitus to twentieth-century process philosophers such as William James, Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead and beyond all of who, in one way or another, viewed reality in terms of ceaseless process, flux and transformation rather than as a stable world of unchanging entities. In what follows, we outline the key principles and axioms of process philosophy. We show that from a process philosophical outlook, primacy is accorded to becoming over being, difference over self-identity, and time and temporality over simple spatial location. We then examine the implications of process thinking for understanding organization as an ongoing ‘world-making’ phenomenon and show that the current interest in organizational sensemaking, organizational identity and entrepreneurial logic provides good illustrations of how and when process and emergence are taken seriously, our understanding of organizational situations can be vastly enriched.

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More information

Published date: 2011

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427382
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427382
ISSN: 0733-558X
PURE UUID: 036238be-1504-4250-88a1-305d7861c406
ORCID for Ajit Nayak: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3253-7120

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Date deposited: 15 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 10 Jan 2022 03:17

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Contributors

Author: Ajit Nayak ORCID iD
Author: Robert Chia
Editor: Hardimos Tsoukas
Editor: Robert Chia

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