The Determinants of a Successful Constitution of Organization: The Case of J.J. Abrams’ Lost

Last summer, I put out a call for a master thesis taking upon the challenge to look into the determinants of a ‘successful’ constitution of organization. I implicitly left open the definition of success, but I was clear on the literature underlying the idea of the master thesis: the communicative constitution of organization (CCO) or, in other words, organization as communication (OaC). Besides a rigorous foundation in the literature, I wanted the master thesis to take the first season of J.J. Abrams’ highly acclaimed television series Lost, because it beautifully depicts the rise and fall of an organization. A unique opportunity for a social scientist to observe this up close and personal, if you will. Here’s my call:

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The Pathology of Organizational Insomnia

Somewhat related to our idea of organization as communication, we (i.e., Dennis Schoeneborn, Ina Kaufmann, and myself) just got word from the Journal of Management Inquiry that our paper on Recontextualizing Anthropomorphic Metaphors in Organization Studies: The Pathology of Organizational Insomnia was accepted for publication. Here’s the abstract:

In this paper, we discuss critically the use of “anthropomorphic” metaphors in organization studies (e.g., organizational knowledge, learning, and memory). We argue that, although these metaphors are potentially powerful, because of frequent usage they are at risk of becoming taken for granted and contextually disconnected from their source domain, the human mind. In order to unleash the heuristic potential of such metaphors, it is necessary to take into account the inherent dynamics and bidirectionality of metaphorical language use. Therefore, we propose a methodology for the context-sensitive use of metaphors in organization studies. We illustrate this approach by developing the new metaphor of organizational insomnia, which is informed by recent neuroscientific research on human sleep and its disruptions. The insomnia metaphor provides an alternative way of explaining deficits in organizational knowledge, learning, and memory, which originate in a state of permanent restlessness.