The Role of Temporality in Innovating with Nature

Dror Etzion, Raghu Garud, Sylvia Grewatsch, Gail Whiteman, Juliane Reinecke, Miriam Feuls, Sunny Mosangzi Xu

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In the Anthropocene, organizations are confronted with high levels of human activity that are essential for organizations to survive and thrive, while at the same time massively impacting nature and the ecological environment (Ansari, Wijen, & Gray, 2013). Over a long period of time, nature and the ecological environment are often viewed as external resources that organizations can conquer, exploit, and manipulate for innovation (Banerjee & Arjaliès, 2021). To a large extent, organizations have been innovating against nature. As Secretary-General António Guterres stated in his opening remarks at the UN Biodiversity Conference on December 6, 2022, “We are waging war on nature”. However, the current ecological crisis we face, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, urgently requires a shift in how organizations manage and organize their relations with nature when innovating for a sustainable future (Bansal & Grewatsch, 2020; Howard-Grenville & Lahneman, 2021; Whiteman, Walker, & Perego, 2013). Implicit in most studies of managing and organizing innovations is the role of temporality. In this symposium, we bring together a panel of organization and innovation scholars to cast light on the role of temporality in rethinking innovation and establish a discussion on disparate aspects of innovating with nature through a temporal lens. Specifically, how the temporal lens can bring an alternative approach to better understand the organization-nature relations, and provide new ways for organizations to innovate with instead of against nature. We grasp temporality as an overarching term comprising time in its sequential flow of time but also in its non-sequential ongoing iteration of meaning created in between past, present, and future. Recent debates have recognized that innovations cannot be defined by a clear beginning or an end but are rather processual, nor are they linearly developing due to their temporal complexity, developing diachronically to the original plan. According to Garud, Tuertscher, and Ven (2013: 795), “Innovation processes are characterized by multiple temporal rhythms and experiences rather than by a single linear conception of time.” We argue that foregrounding the temporality of innovations enables us to capture the dynamics of ongoing socio-ecological transformations when innovating with nature and the ecological environment. Innovating with nature is a matter of navigating multiple temporalities; that is, for example, engaging in material temporality inherent in nature (Hernes, Feddersen, & Schultz, 2021), or utilizing the potential reservoir of past practices of working with nature to reimagine and co-create the future (Sharma & Bansal, 2020). In this symposium, we intend to establish the dialogue on how different temporalities further our understanding of the managing and organizing innovations with nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management : Putting the Worker Front and Center
EditorsSonia Taneja
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesAcademy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings

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