How to Construct a Time Machine: Dialogic Organizing and Cybernetic Ethics Within the Anthropocene

Marta Gasparin, Stephen D. Brown, William Green, Simon Lilley, Martin Quinn, Michael Saren

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


How can organizations become responsive in a meaningful way to events which may occur way outside the boundaries of their own lifespan? We are living in a time of considerable climate crisis. The challenges presented by the Anthropocene are such that a piecemeal, incremental approach to addressing them will not be sufficient. In order to 'become active' and effect the radical change required, organizational processes need to be situated in relation to flows of activities that stretch across the enormity of 'Earth time'. We will re-imagine the possibilities of dialogically affirmative organization in creating engagement, hope, and solidarity by proposing a novel organizational approach that refigures the dialogical basis of 'thinking in time' in relation to the Earth System. We build on the work of both Serres and Jarry to explore the conditions under which a dialogue between the temporalities of organizations and Earth time might be possible. We make four contributions. First, we draw a novel link between the concern with dialogical organization and wider issues around sustainability and the capacity of organizations to engage with the magnitude of entering the Anthropocene. Second, we present a series of conceptual experiments through which organizational time can be related to Earth time and show how duration -- that time that makes 'us' -- can be extended towards broader time 'outside us', and for this reason, we suggest that organizations should have a "Board of Indirectors", a board of human and non-human actors that reflect on the long-term impact of organizations on the Earth System. We make a series of practical recommendations that are intended, in the spirit of 'pataphysics, as 'imaginary solutions' that provoke thought beyond its current grounding in established business doxa. Finally, we sketch out how dialogues with 'ethernity' begin to coalesce as a 'cybernetic ethics'


KonferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2023