Organizational Change and Temporality: Bending the Arrow of Time, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Organizational Change and Temporality

Bending the Arrow of Time, 1st Edition

By Patrick Dawson, Christopher Sykes


254 pages

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Organizational Change and Temporality: Bending the Arrow of Time looks to address the important area of time and temporality, especially as it relates to frameworks and studies for explaining change processes in organizations. It commences with a selective history on the science and philosophy of time before examining the place of time in work and employment, and the presence and absence of theorized time in explanations of organizational change. The intention is to bring to the fore concepts and debates that have largely remained hidden, furthering our knowledge and understanding of time and temporality in changing organizations.

The authors provide a more informed theoretical explanation of the temporal dimensions of organizational change. They examine the concepts and debates behind change theories, philosophical positions and scientific concerns on time and material existence, drawing connections that have previously remained unexplored. This book is key reading for researchers within the organizational change world and will further the academic debate of time and temporality in organizations studies.


"This is a very well-written, erudite and thought-provoking book. It addresses one of the most central and least understood aspects of organisational change – time. We know from our own experience that change is iterative, rarely proceeds in a linear fashion and that our perception of time is not constant. Yet we still persist in planning and managing change by the clock and the calendar. By challenging conventional views of time, this book makes a major contribution to our understanding of change." –Bernard Burnes, University of Stirling, Scotland

"Time and temporality are integral to processes of change, storytelling and sense making yet remain surprisingly absent from mainstream studies. This book usefully examines how time is conceptualized in science, social science and philosophy and then through a broad review of the literatures associated with organizational change provides profound insights on their explicit and implicit use in concept development and theorization. In an excellent chapter on narrative time and stories in making sense of change the authors shed some much needed light on an otherwise neglected topic. Patrick Dawson and Christopher Sykes are to be commended for this insightful and valuable addition to the organization studies canon."Andrew D. Brown, University of Bath, UK

"This book offers a brilliant analysis of the concept of time in relation to the study of organizational change. Lucid and thought-provoking, it provides much needed insight into the philosophy, psychology and sociology of time and temporality. Most of all, it offers a deep social scientific appreciation of issues of temporal process and multiplicity. Essential reading for those seeking a rich understanding of the nature of time in contemporary society."John Hassard, University of Manchester, UK

Table of Contents

Part 1: Laying the Foundations: Time and Temporality

1. Introduction

2. Understanding Time and Temporality: History, Science and Philosophy

3. Understanding Time and Temporality: Psychology, Sociology and Organization Studies

4. Institutional Time in the Organization and Control of Work

Part 2: Organizational Change: Time and Temporality

5. Episodic Change and Linear Time Sequences in Managing Planned Interventions

6. Technical, Social and Material: Assemblages of Changing Times

7. Political Time as an Instrument of Dominance and Power

8. Narrative Time and Stories in Making Sense of Change

9. Process Studies in Organizations: Digging in the Field

10. Process Studies on Emergent Time in Organizing and Becoming

11. Processes in the Making: Living Presents and the Multiplicity of Times

12. Conclusion

About the Authors

Patrick Dawson is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at Wollongong University, Australia.

Christopher Sykes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management Operations and Marketing at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Organizational Change & Development

It is often stated that some 70% of all change projects fail. Though this figure can be disputed, it is nevertheless clear that managing change is one of the most difficult tasks facing organizations today. In response to this, writers offer a wide range of theories and advice designed to aid managers and scholars in understanding and managing change, but which seem merely to overwhelm them with a profusion of competing and conflicting advice and approaches. In many respects, change is a field which epitomises the ‘rigor-relevance’ debate. We have many approaches to change which are built on sound research and robust theories, but which appear to lack relevance for managers. We also have a vast array of nostrums, practices and tools which managers use, but which appear to lack methodological or theoretical foundations.

The aim of this series is to cut through the confusion surrounding the study and practice of change by providing comprehensive and in-depth studies of existing and emerging approaches to change. The rationale for the series is that we cannot understand organizational change sufficiently nor implement it effectively unless we can evaluate the various approaches in terms of the evidence which underpins them, what they seek to achieve and how and where they can be applied. In particular, the series seeks to address, but is not limited to, the following questions:

  • What are the emerging themes in the field of organizational change?
  • Which theories and approaches to change have stood the test of time?
  • What are the key debates within the field?
  • How has the field been influenced by and incorporated newer approaches to organizational life, such as postmodernism, social constructionism, critical realism, and complexity theories?
  • What is the current status of OD (organization development)?
  • To what extent have countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America developed their own distinct approaches to change?
  • How are developments such as social media and virtual organizations affecting the way organizations perceive and carry out change?
  • Do successful organizations adopt different approaches to change than unsuccessful ones, or do they use the same approaches but more effectively?

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Development