Steve Maguire, McGill University, Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Majken Schultz, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark (email@example.com)
Ann Langley, HEC Montreal, Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Haridimos Tsoukas, ALBA Graduate Business School, Greece &
University of Warwick, UK (email@example.com)
Michael G. Pratt, Professor of Organization Studies, Boston College, USA, Associate Editor, Academy of Management Journal
James V. Wertsch, Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, USA, author of Mind as Action and Voices of Collective Remembering
James Williams, Professor of European Philosophy, University of Dundee, UK, author of Gilles Deleuze’s Logic of Sense: A Critical Introduction and Guide
Rationale: A Process Perspective
Process Organization Studies (PROS) is a way of studying organizations that unfolds from process metaphysics – the worldview that sees processes, rather than substances, as the basic forms of the universe. A process orientation prioritizes activity over product, change over persistence, novelty over continuity, expression over determination. Becoming, change, flux as well as creativity, disruption, and indeterminism are the main themes of a process worldview.
Seeing process as fundamental, such an approach does not deny the existence of states, events, and entities, but insists on unpacking them to reveal the complex processes involved in - the sequences of activities and transactions that take place and contribute to - their constitution. As process philosopher Nicholas Rescher notes, “the idea of discrete “events” dissolves into a manifold of processes which themselves dissolve into further processes”. A process point of view invites us to acknowledge, rather than reduce, the complexity of the world and, in that sense, it is animated by what philosopher Stephen Toulmin calls an “ecological style” of thinking.
A process view rests on a anti-dualist and relational ontology, namely the recognition that everything that is has no existence apart from its relation to other things, and, therefore, long established dualisms such as mind and body, reason and emotion, humanity and nature, individual and collective, organism and environment, agency and structure, ethics and science, need to be overcome. Focusing on inter-actions is preferred to analyzing self-standing actions.
A process orientation is sensitive to the constructive role of embodied-cum-embedded agency in bringing about the world we come to experience as an independent structure and to the experiences generated by human and non-human agency. Unlike substances, which do not include one another but are seen as nested, standing under one another – sub-stantia -, experiences include other experiences and grow out of the integration of bodily and mental events into something new. Cognition and symbolic interaction are understood to be embedded into ways of life and arising from embodied interactions with the world, mediated by artifacts. Temporality is a constitutive feature of human experience, and processes unfold in time. Human phenomena cannot be properly understood if time is abstracted away.
Purpose, Venue, and Organization
The aim of this Symposium is to consolidate, integrate, and further develop ongoing efforts to advance a sophisticated process perspective in organization studies. It is important for the vigorous intellectual development of the field and its relevance to the world of practice that the implications and resonance of the process worldview for organization studies be appreciated and sustained, rather than just dallied with as an engaging side-line in the prevailing analytic language game. We live in a world of processes although we often try to comprehend it in the vocabulary of substances. Aligning our conceptual vocabulary with our organizational experience is an important aim of the Symposium.
The Symposium is an annual event organized by the new annual volume Perspectives on Process Organization Studies (Editors: Ann Langley and Haridimos Tsoukas), published by Oxford University Press, and it takes place in a Mediterranean island, in early summer each year.
Interested participants must submit to Haridimos Tsoukas (firstname.lastname@example.org) an abstract of about 1000 words for their proposed contribution by January 31st, 2010. The submission must be made via email and it must be a Word attachment. It should contain authors’ names, institutional affiliations, email and postal addresses, and indicate the track for which the submission is made (General or Thematic), while the subject matter line of the email should indicate “Process Symposium”. Authors will be notified of acceptance or otherwise by February 28th, 2010. Full papers will be submitted by May 15th, 2010.