Sub-theme 12: (SWG) The Temporal Experience of Organizing

Barbara Simpson, Strathclyde Business School, UK
Tor Hernes, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, & Buskerud and Vestfold University College, Norway
Chahrazad Abdallah, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada

Call for Papers

A process view of organizing suggests that coordinated actions are made possible by collective experiences that evolve continuously through the creative re-construal of shared histories, and the simultaneous generation of alternative futures. Actors are thrown into a world on the move (Heidegger, 1927), which they experience through projections from their remembered pasts onto their anticipated futures. They find themselves in an on-going present, of which both past and future are aspects. Past and future are not temporal epochs distinct from the present, but rather they take part in the making of present experience.

The various ways in which time may be experienced in organizations lie at the heart of this sub-theme. Michel Serres once said of time that it does not pass but percolates. If time is to 'pass' it would have to penetrate a substance or a porous environment, it would have to be absorbed and filtered, it would have to be experienced. For Whitehead (1920), time implied evanescence, while Bakhtin (1981) invoked the notion of chronotopes to signify the unity of time and place. For the Pragmatists, temporal experience was inherently creative (Mead, 1932) as actors abductively imagine what might become (Peirce, 1965), while Castoriadis (1997) emphasized the role of affect in the creative emergence of social imaginaries. Varied and rich, these ideas and feelings about time belie the prevailing view of temporality as something that can be measured out on clock faces, and managed as such.

This temporal view also invites a fresh approach to spatiality as lively, open-ended, and in motion (Massey, 2005). We ask therefore, how the spatial and temporal interplay between rememberings and imaginings work together to inflect organizational practices as diverse as change management, strategizing, leadership, decision-making, learning, narrating, sensemaking, innovating, and the cognitive and emotional dynamics of managerial talk. Further, we invite our colleagues to reflect on this interplay in their own practices as researchers.

We welcome contributions on the philosophical nature of time (its shapes, its forms, its fleeting nature) and on the various analytical conceptualizations of time and temporality in organizational research. Theoretical papers may take the form of speculative inquiries stimulated by works in philosophy or sociology, while empirical papers may address a wide range of phenomena beyond those of formal organization. We invite studies that probe lacunae and suggest remedies in organization studies, particularly those that build on and critically challenge concepts such as "episodes", "events", "experiences" or "moments" as well as ideas of interpretation, embodiment or enactment.

Potential topics for submissions might include (but are not limited to):

  • The nature of temporal experience in organizations
  • Reflexivity and novelty in organizing processes
  • Histories of organizations and organizing
  • Leadership as imagining different pasts and futures
  • Affect and the emotionality of temporal experience
  • The dynamics of temporal agency
  • Experiencing temporality through material objects
  • Continuity and emergence as aspects of structure
  • The interplay of temporality and spatiality
  • Narratives and temporal experience




  • Bakhtin, Mikhail (1981): The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Castoriadis, Cornelius (1997): "The crisis of the identification process." Thesis Eleven, 49 (1), 85–98.
  • Heidegger, Martin (1927): Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Massey, Doreen (2005): For Space. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Mead, George Herbert (1932): The Philosophy of the Present. LaSalle, Illinois: Open Court.
  • Peirce, Charles Sanders (1965): Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Edited by C. Hartshorne & P. Weiss. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Whitehead, Alfred North (1920): The Concept of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Barbara Simpson is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Dynamics in the Department of Strategy & Organisation at Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow, UK. Her thinking about temporality is deeply informed by the American Pragmatists who emphasize the intertwining of agency and temporality in practice. Her published work appears in a variety of journals including 'Organization Studies', 'Human Relations', 'Organization', and 'Journal of Management Inquiry'.
Tor Hernes is Professor of Organization Theory at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and Adjunct Professor at Vestfold University College, Norway. He writes extensively on issues related to process and temporality. Tor has published in top tier European and American journals, and recent books include "A Process Theory of Organization" (Oxford University Press) and "The Oxford Handbook of Process Philosophy and Organization Studies" (co-edited with J. Helin, D. Hjorth and R. Holt).
Chahrazad Abdallah is Professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada. She holds a PhD in Management from HEC Montréal, Canada. Her research focuses on Strategy and Creativity as ambiguous discursive practices. Her work was published in the 'Journal of Management Studies', 'Organizational Change Management' and the 'Revue Française de Gestion'.