Reflections: on time, temporality and change in organizations

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Abstract

Time and temporality has, for the most part, evaded thorough examination and is often sidestepped or assumed to be a non-contentious issue in frameworks that seek to explain organizational change. Temporality (past, present and future) contrasts with atemporal and tenseless conceptions of time where change is viewed as a series of ‘now’ moments in which the past and future are represented as social constructions that serve to make sense of an ongoing present. In the field of organizational change, time remains integral but opaque in theorization and implicit in the explanations captured in macro planned and episodic models characterized by linear temporality in which changes progress through a series of sequential stages, through to the more micro explanations of emergence that focus on continuous reconstituted becoming in changing organizations. This poor conceptualization of time requires attention to further develop theorization and enable researchers to engage in richer empirical work. The article unpacks conceptions of time that underpin change theories and suggests that the concepts of temporal orientation, awareness and accommodation can be used to open up and reflect upon temporality in generating a wider debate and furthering discussions on the place of time in understanding processes of change in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-308
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Change Management
Volume14
Issue number3
Early online date26 Mar 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Keywords

  • time
  • temporality
  • organizational change
  • organization theory
  • change frameworks

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