Material Temporality: How Materiality ‘Does’ Time in Food Organizing

Tor Hernes*, Jonathan Feddersen, Majken Schultz

*Corresponding author for this work

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The organic and hence perishable nature of food makes it particularly useful for understanding how the temporal dimension of materiality influences organizing and innovation. We present, as our main theoretical contribution, the concept of ‘material temporality’ to account for the transformation of materials in time and their imagined states at different moments across time, which we label processual and epochal temporality, respectively. Our empirical study shows how two organizations in the beer and dairy industries searched for novel solutions in their past and future. We show how the organizations’ potential for more consequential innovation was greater when they engaged distant past or future epochal temporalities. However, distant epochal temporality may also become uncertain and contested through the lens of ongoing processual temporality. We discuss the implications of material temporality for industries other than food and for organizing in relation to the natural environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)351-371
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 12 February 2020


  • Epochal temporality
  • Food organizing
  • Innovation
  • Material temporality
  • Materiality
  • Processual temporality

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