Playful Organizations: Undecidability as a Scarce Resource

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This article explores how organisational play becomes a managerial tool to increase and benefit from undecidability. The article draws on Niklas Luhmann's concept of decision and on Gregory Bateson's theory of play to create a conceptual framework for analysing the relation between decision and undecidability. With an empirical point of departure in Danish public school policy and two concrete examples of games utilised in school development, the article analyses how play is a way for organisations to simultaneously decide and also avoid making a decision, thus keeping flexibility and possibilities intact. In its final sections, the article discusses what happens to conditions of decision-making when organisations do not just see undecidability as a given condition, but as a limited resource indispensable for change and renewal. The article advances discussions of organisational play by exploring the consequences play has for the very conditions of organising and for key concepts in organisation theory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)338-354
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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