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I am interested in exploring how workplaces are actually changing (not the hype). This blog is my place for thinking out loud about what I see happening - or not happening.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The new supplementing, not supplanting the old (1)

The image today was snapped in Brighton one summer's day last year. I just love the girl's style.

A comment left over the weekend on my very first blog entry gently suggested that what I had written might 'cause slight degree of cognitive dissonance'. And I agree. What I had written was unclear. In my response, I reflected that I am using the blog to sort out what I think.

As well as monitoring current global workplace trends, I look backwards at earlier research across a range of academic disciplines - social psychology, sociotechnical systems, systems thinking, organisational behaviour, psychology of learning, organisations as complex adaptive systems etc.

We all have our favourite organisational theorists and observers, and mine will become clear as these posts unfold. What is behind this blog, and my dislike of of hype, is my desire to give kudos to the deep thinkers from the past, whose work gives big clues to businesses as to how they can choose to respond to the strategic implications of current economic, technological, geographic and demographic trends.

Andrew Pettigrew and Evelyn Fenton say "the present condition of management thinking and practice with its repetitive recycling of fads and fashions, and a management research community often excited and deluded by novelty makes it difficult to be sceptical of revelatory language" (p280). I think this is a reasonable thing to say, based on research I have conducted and reviewed, and the businesses I have worked with since 1995.

They also say that we should be open to the possibility that innovative forms of organising may emerge incrementally and radically, involve progression and regression, and be characterised as the new supplementing the old rather than the new supplanting the old. This, again, is a stance that makes sense to me.

Finally, in their comprehensive literature review of theoretical perspectives of new forms of organising, Pettigrew and Fenton review process-perspectives of organisational design, drawing on concepts of value chains, networks and virtual organisation - which suggests that "the object of empirical study needs to be organisational processes and patterns of relationships". They go on to say that many apparently new forms of organisation are not entirely new and reminiscent of earlier forms.

This preamble provides the context for what I will do tomorrow, which is start at the very beginning - as I see it.

Thanks for reading this far!

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