Understanding Organization as Process
Theory for a Tangled World
Organization takes place in a tangled world, intermeshed by changing markets, products, standards, technologies, institutions and social groups. Coming to grips with the complexity and fluidity of organization and management is a persistent problem for scholars and practitioners alike, which is why process issues have received renewed interest in recent years. This book, aimed at scholars and higher level students, frames some of these issues in novel and instructive ways.
Process views have existed since before the early Greek philosophers and have made decisive marks in all sciences. Alfred North Whitehead’s classic work is a landmark in process philosophy, and his thinking provides renewed impetus to social scientists in search of an expanded framework of process thinking. Theorists such as Niklas Luhmann, Bruno Latour, Karl Weick and James March have contributed significantly towards a process view of organization. In this book, central aspects of their thinking are interpreted and discussed with the help of a broader canvas of process thinking provided by Whitehead. The comparisons do not only allow for interesting connections to be made between the theorists, but they also enable understanding to be made of the thinking behind their respective works. From the analysis, ideas are suggested for a framework for process-based organizational analysis.
Advanced students and academics in sociology, organization studies and management studies will find this book useful in its discussion of such subjects as organization theory, process philosophy and process studies.
Table of Contents
1. Organization in a Tangled World 2. Process Views of Organization 3. Alfred North Whitehead on Process 4. Bruno Latour on Relativizing the Social and the Becoming of Networks 5. Niklas Luhmann on Autopoiesis and Recursiveness in Social Systems 6. James March on Decision Processes and Organization: A Logic of Streams 7. Karl Weick on Organizing and Sensemaking 8. A Scheme for Process Based Organizational Analysis
9. Some Implications for Organizational Analysis
Tor Hernes is Professor at the Norwegian School of Management, where he is also Head of the Department for Innovation and Economic Organization.
“This book represents a serious attempt to review the ideas of Alfred N. Whitehead as applied to the process of organizing. Here, in the one book, Hernes invites us to review the contributions of Latour, Luhmann, March, and Weick for understanding organisation through the lens of Whitehead’s process philosophy. In so doing, he challenges us to think again about the nature of organisation and how we investigate it. Definitely one for the bookshelf!” Dr Neil Paulsen, University of Queensland Business School, Australia