New Book on Organizational Memory as a FunctionPosted: June 16, 2016
My former colleague Felix Langenmayr (University of Zurich) just published an insightful book at Springer VS: Organisational Memory as a Function: The Construction of Past, Present and Future in Organisations. In his study, he applies a “communication constitutes organizations” (CCO) perspective (grounded in Luhmann’s theory of social systems) to examine how organizations construct their past, present and future. However, if we assume that organizations are constituted in and through communication, how do they ensure their constant reproduction? This ‘problem of connectivity’ is addressed by the functions of memory and oscillation, i.e. by how an organization selectively draws on past and future horizons as resources to construct a constant social reality in which communication is able to overcome its own improbability. Felix Langenmayr elaborates on memory as a functional solution to the problem of sustaining organizations as an interrelated network of communications. In that regard, as he writes, “the function of organizational memory is an answer to the problem that communication is not necessarily an ongoing process, but rather unpredictable and fragile” (p. 175). Felix Langenmayr grounds these theoretical considerations in an empirical study at a European online gaming and gambling company, demonstrating how organizations, given that they are not able to access their past or future, actively and selectively construct these time dimensions in the present. I can recommend the book to everyone who is interested in learning more about how the Luhmannian variant of CCO thinking can be fruitfully employed for conceptual and/or empirical inquiries!