Essai: Dislocating (instrumental) organizational time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this essay I explore the role of time in proximal and distal approaches to organizational analysis. I argue that an instrumental and linear view of time may undermine efforts to describe organizations as partial and contingent processes. Therefore, I supplement instrumental time with a discontinuous and non-teleological account, using A. Giddens' and N. Luhmann's systems frameworks to illustrate my argument. Both theorists explain how systems extend present conditions through communication technologies that shrink time and space and, concomitantly, that facilitate reflexive control over future conditions. However, I argue that the systems framework may overstate organizational control by instrumentalizing time in the extension and reproduction of formal organizational structures. I then use the idea of temporal dislocation to signify how 'otherness' subverts systemic presence and thus offers a way of studying those ('untimely') aspects of organizational life that are typically marginalized in organizational analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-510
Number of pages30
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Agency
  • Organization
  • Post-structuralism
  • Social theory
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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