From Temporal Myopia to Foresight: Bridging the Near and the Distant Future through Temporal Work

Blagoy Blagoev, Lea von Guttenberg, Dennis Schoeneborn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This paper examines how organizations can make long-term, distant future goals related to corporate sustainability actionable in the short-term, near future. Prior research suggests that this challenge is particularly pronounced in traditional organizations used to operate within a highly institutionalized temporal context dominated by economic short-termism. We add to this research by empirically investigating different forms of temporal work at a big German automotive firm that currently undergoes a major strategic reorientation toward sustainability. Drawing on interview, documentary, and press data, we discover and theorize the interplay of four intersecting forms of temporal work: explicit vs. implicit and aspirational vs. translational temporal work.
Importantly, we find that explicit-translational temporal work—which focuses on breaking down sustainability goals into KPIs—in itself was not sufficient for deep-level strategic change. Only when it was coupled with more implicit and aspirational forms of temporal work, such change was made more likely. We deepen current research on organizational temporality by theorizing the
interplay between the four modes of temporal work and their relation to changing highly institutionalized temporal structures. Our theorizing sheds new light on how actors and organizations can build new trajectories of change by engaging in temporal work and how such trajectories can support the transition toward sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event45. Workshop der Kommission Organisation 2021: Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaft - Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
Duration: 22 Sept 202124 Sept 2021
Conference number: 45


Conference45. Workshop der Kommission Organisation 2021
LocationLeuphana Universität Lüneburg


  • Temporal work
  • Temporal structuring
  • Organizational time
  • Sustainability
  • Non-market strategy

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