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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Joel Gehman

The concept of institution has been used by scholars from across a number of disciplines to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, the philosophical roots of this…

Abstract

The concept of institution has been used by scholars from across a number of disciplines to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, the philosophical roots of this concept have not been well examined, nor have implications for contemporary institutional analysis been fully appreciated. Returning to the works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty reveals a depth of thinking that has otherwise been overlooked by institutional theorists. In particular, the author’s analysis reveals two critical insights. First, whereas organizational scholars have closely linked the concepts of institution and taken-for-grantedness, these two concepts were originally understood to be phenomenologically distinct. Second, a detailed examination of Merleau-Ponty’s later work poses the concept of flesh – the twining of the visible and the invisible – as the basis for the interplay of institutions. In turn, the idea of flesh as the foundation of institution invites a more radical reimagining of the growing bifurcation between microfoundations and macrofoundations.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Article
Publication date: 27 July 2020

Frank Stowell

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between Husserl’s phenomenology and soft systems. An important idea arising from the action research programme at…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between Husserl’s phenomenology and soft systems. An important idea arising from the action research programme at the University of Lancaster is the notion of soft systems. The concept of soft systems, that distinguished it from other systems (holistic) thinking of the time, was the conscious link between soft systems thinking and phenomenology. Phenomenology is that the realm of intentional consciousness that enables the phenomenologist to develop a radically unprejudiced justification of his (or her) basic views of the world and of himself and explore their rational interconnections. Similarly, in soft systems, it is acknowledged that reality is formed by sensation and fashioned by experience. It is not exclusively a process of thought (although this may shape how we process our experience), for us the world exists as the result of a subjective appreciation of it. In Part 1, the author explores how phenomenology informs soft systems theory and practice through the work of Husserl and some of those that influenced him and were influenced by him. In Part 2, the author explores a possible relationship between Husserl and Gadamer as a possible intellectual grounding for organisational inquiry.

Design/methodology/approach

The research was conducted by examining published material relating to the development of soft systems ideas and Husserl's phenomenology.

Findings

An analysis of the ideas within the material suggests that phenomenology can be considered as a underpinning the notion of soft systems

Research limitations/implications

There is difficulty tracking down important papers that recorded the development of soft systems (i.e. 1970–1990) as Lancaster University had disposed of all issues. However, the author tracked down a source and was able to use this material as part of the research. In addition to helping research the origins of the idea, it also provides a paper trail for other researchers interested in these ideas.

Practical implications

Tracing the published material relating to soft systems necessitated visits to several universities as many of the important papers where no longer held by the University of Lancaster library.

Social implications

It seems apposite that the ideas behind soft systems are resurrected as they offer an alternative way of thinking about complexity – which the modern world seems increasingly creating

Originality/value

There is a lack of research into soft systems as the publications describing the Lancaster research programme have centred around soft systems methodology (SSM). Checkland remarked a decade or so ago that said SSM should be taken as given and other ideas explored. There is little evidence that the soft ideas have been explored outside variations of SSM, this paper is intended to encourage more research into ‘soft’ systems.

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Kybernetes, vol. 50 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part
Publication date: 7 February 2011

Robin Holt and Jörgen Sandberg

Phenomena are what we as researchers begin with, and to study phenomena is to appreciate how any determination of things and events always relates back to the context in…

Abstract

Phenomena are what we as researchers begin with, and to study phenomena is to appreciate how any determination of things and events always relates back to the context in which they appeared. Phenomenology is the study of such relations of appearance and the conditions of such relations. Appearance is an active rather than superficial condition, a constant bringing together of experiencing beings and experienced things (including sentient beings), in what the modern “father” of phenomenology Edmund Husserl called conditions of intentionality, and what his errant, one-time student Martin Heidegger called conditions of thrownness and projection. This chapter delves into the philosophical background of this mode of study, before opening up into consideration of, first, where phenomenology has been influential in organization studies, and, second, the potential of the approach. In so doing, we suggest much can be made of reorienting research in organization studies away from an entitative epistemology in which things are seen in increasingly causally linked, detailed isolation, and toward a relational epistemology in which what exists is understood in terms of its being experienced within everyday lives.

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Philosophy and Organization Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-596-0

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Article
Publication date: 23 July 2020

Frank Stowell

This study aims to explore the ideas of Husserl and Gadamer as a possible basis of future soft systems methods of enquiry.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the ideas of Husserl and Gadamer as a possible basis of future soft systems methods of enquiry.

Design/methodology/approach

In Part one, the author has taken up the argument that soft systems is underpinned by Husserl’s phenomenology. The implication of this contention is an acceptance of subjectivity, and that our understanding the world is based upon personal experience. A consequence of this thinking renders predetermined models of the world to be deficient because each situation is unique. Instead of seeking a “solution”, the soft systems investigator engenders a cycle of learning as a means of gaining greater understanding. This means that a soft systems inquiry involves exploring the situation with those involved as a means of reaching an informed way forward. In this second paper, the author continues to explore Husserl’s phenomenology and also consider Gadamer’s ideas on hermeneutics and the importance of the “cycle of learning” that is central to any soft systems inquiry. The study concludes with a summary of points that, the author suggests, should be considered when undertaking a “soft” systems inquiry and in the development of any methodology that may enable it.

Findings

Both papers explore the phenomenological ideas of Husserl and the relationship to soft systems. In paper one, the basis of this exploration was Checkland's assertion that phenomenology could be the basis of soft systems. In the second paper, the author takes this further by exploring Gadamer's ideas on hermeneutics and reflect upon the possibility of blending them with Husserl's thinking.

Research limitations/implications

I had some difficulty in tracking down the published work relating to the development of soft systems, notably the Journal of Applied Systems Analysis. This journal was published by Lancaster University and covered more than 20 years of debate and provides an important record of its development. The author managed to find what might be the only compete set at the University of Southampton. This allowed the author to gain some understanding of the development of the thinking. Since the late 20th century, the number of publications on soft ideas has been severely limited, seemingly reflecting the dominance of reductionist science. It seems timely for such a paper as this to help initiate further debate.

Practical implications

As indicated above – the difficulty is finding early journal publications where the ideas and their relationship to the action research programme emerged. Checkland himself, with whom the author has always enjoyed a close relationship, has, at the age of 90, withdrawn from academic activity; the early papers in the Journal of Applied Systems Analysis are probably the only “evidence” of the developing ideas at that time. Checkland has summarised the development (see references in the author’s two papers), but these early documents have the advantage of being written by a variety of scholars at the time rather than a single source.

Social implications

The current crisis of the corona virus demonstrates the strength and the limitations of reductionist thinking. It is appropriate at this time that other methods and ideas of thinking about complexity are “visible”. Whilst there are many ideas, techniques, methods and so on in systems, these come from a common base, namely, to accept a world as tangible and easily modelled; adopting and alternative way of thinking can be challenging and healthy.

Originality/value

Soft systems thinking is 50 years old, but there has been virtually no progress since the soft systems methodology (SSM) emerged of Husserl and Gadamer in the 1970-1990s; such is the dominance of this methodology. This paper attempts to revisit the early thinking and consider what soft systems thinking means rather than focus on SSM.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 50 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Daniel Hughes

Social Technologies and their Unplanned Obsolescence seeks to sidestep the various contents of the post-truth debate to consider the manner in which any body of knowledge…

Abstract

Social Technologies and their Unplanned Obsolescence seeks to sidestep the various contents of the post-truth debate to consider the manner in which any body of knowledge and practice gets taken up and extended at all. This bottom-up consideration of the material conditions of bodies of knowledge and practice is presented polemically, as a critical homily of sorts, and is concluded with a forward-looking call to action.

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Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-907-8

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2016

Karin Klenke

Abstract

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Qualitative Research in the Study of Leadership
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-651-9

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2005

John M. Budd

To examine work on phenomenology and determine what information studies can learn and use from that work.

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Abstract

Purpose

To examine work on phenomenology and determine what information studies can learn and use from that work.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a literature‐based conceptual analysis of pioneering work in phenomenology (including that of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, and others), application of such ideas as intentionality and being in information studies work, and the potential for greater application of the information seeker as other.

Findings

The literature on phenomenology contains thought that is directly relevant to information studies and information work. Close examination of perception, intentionality, and interpretation is integral to individuals’ activities related to searching for and retrieving information, determining relevance, and using technology. Essential to the realization of phenomenology's potential is adoption of communication by dialogue so that an information seeker is able both to conceptualize need and to articulate that need. Some promising work in information studies demonstrates an openness to the ongoing and continuous perceptual experiences of information seekers and the relation of that process of perceiving to the growth of knowledge.

Originality/value

Offers a different way of thinking about human‐information relationships and the ways that information professionals can interact with information seekers.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 61 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article
Publication date: 26 June 2007

Eric Faÿ and Philippe Riot

This paper serves two purposes. It is an introduction to the theme of this issue of Society and Business Review which is devoted to “Phenomenological approaches to work…

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939

Abstract

Purpose

This paper serves two purposes. It is an introduction to the theme of this issue of Society and Business Review which is devoted to “Phenomenological approaches to work, life and responsibility” as well as a presentation of the authors' various contributions. The authors of this paper share the sentiment that management sciences and practices may drive us in a way such that the sense of life has been altered and people, contrary to Kant's definition of moral behavior, are treated as means instead of ends. Moreover, starting from a widely‐spread malaise in modern organizations, they argue how phenomenology can provide us with an approach that can be helpful in assessing our present situation as well as getting a renewed perception concerning work and life.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors demonstrate the relevance of Husserl's phenomenology in criticizing management techniques for they direct us to objectives that are abstract, calculable, not one's own, and distant. They single out Husserl's concept of epoche for its high relevance with the theme of this issue and its different papers.

Findings

The findings suggest Husserl's concept of epoche (suspension) can be considered as the starting point of a process allowing us to firstly take distance with our usual taken for granted assumptions regarding life and work (bracketing) and then to re‐establish a genuine connection with Husserl's “world of life”. In addition, they establish how epoche can be perceived as a hub linking and introducing the work of other researchers comprising this special issue and their various inspiring authors (Koselleck, Levinas, Henry).

Originality/value

By using a phenomenological perspective, this paper brings an original contribution to critical‐management approaches. It can contribute to a social responsibility renewal in the business arena by providing reflexive practitioners with clues that can trigger new and more human practices. Overall, this paper provides one as a human being an opportunity to analyze the causes of one's malaise and identify better ways to live one's life.

Details

Society and Business Review, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5680

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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2015

Thomas Derek Robinson

This paper argues that there is a need to theorize socially constituted temporal phenomena, such as the fragmentation and multiplication of futures in media…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper argues that there is a need to theorize socially constituted temporal phenomena, such as the fragmentation and multiplication of futures in media representations of technology, since this contextualizes consumption in important ways.

Methodology/approach

However, this argument requires a critique of agentic bias in phenomenological approaches to time. By drawing on Husserl, Heidegger and Ricœur, it is shown that phenomenological time is fundamentally intersubjective and contextualized in a tension between chronological and experienced time, rather than first and foremost created and felt by the individual consumer subject or experienced only as “flow.” This implies a switch from an egological to a sociological approach to time and consumption.

Findings

Thus, the multiplication of socially constituted narratives about the future, in late-modernity, disrupts instrumental modes of thinking about the consumer object, making it “unhandy” and “disturbing.” The meaning of the object therefore becomes “damaged.” However, this also allows the possibility for it to be known in wholly new ways.

Research implications

Since many definitions of consumption are future oriented, the fragmentation of the future speaks to how we form meanings about consumption. Thus, a socially constituted theory of consumer temporality impacts the experience of consumer objects.

Practical implications

This theorization of time and consumption suggests the possibility of comparative studies of temporality to understand the universe in which consumer choices can unfold.

Originality/value

This is the first attempt to apply the epistemological criteria from the context of context debate in regard to consumer temporality.

Details

Consumer Culture Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-323-5

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Book part
Publication date: 30 May 2017

Ângela Cristina Salgueiro Marques and Luis Mauro Sá Martino

This chapter elaborates a phenomenological framework for the concept of “communication” by drawing mainly on the notion “lifeworld,” created by Husserl and developed by…

Abstract

This chapter elaborates a phenomenological framework for the concept of “communication” by drawing mainly on the notion “lifeworld,” created by Husserl and developed by Habermas. The concept of “lifeworld” is approached as a communication-grounded idea.

The chapter is a theoretical essay, grounded mainly on bibliographical research. Main sources are the two volumes of Habermas’ The Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas, 1987), seconded by other works by the German philosopher and some commentators as Stein (2004) e Pizzi (2006). The chapter endeavors to show that the phenomenological notion of “lifeworld” might be key to a critical understanding of main constructivist approaches in communication theory. It could be particularly illuminating where the focus is on a “reality,” which results from intersubjective interactions in everyday life. Most communication theories are media-centered, which means that they regard the “media,” both in its technical and institutional aspects as the main focus of the communication process. This chapter argues that the “lifeworld” is a far broader way to understand communication as a form of social interaction, whether mediated by media technologies or not. The chapter discusses the concept of “lifeworld,” framing its relational and communicative aspects as fundamental to the notion of “reality” as an interactive social creation. It also proposes the understanding of “communication” grounded on this phenomenological notion. Finally, it discusses some problems and limits of this approach, offering an alternative approach to conventional communication theory.

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