Disrupting boundaries : rethinking organisation and embodiment

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Thanem, Torkild
  • Subject: HD28 | HD

This thesis attempts to disrupt the boundaries of how we think about organisation and\ud embodiment. From an investigation into five organisational regimes of Western public\ud health, it argues that the body is a problem for organisation. The body does not come\ud ready organised, but is a nonorganisational, messy and carnal matter of flesh and\ud blood, pains and pleasures, habits and desires. Although modem discourses and\ud institutions seek to organise how we live with our bodies in everyday life, they never\ud do so fully and completely. Bodies are powerful, creative and unpredictable and\ud disrupt the boundaries of organisation.\ud Asking how organisation theory deals with the problem of the body, the thesis seeks\ud to take the discipline further by developing an approach to how it should deal with the\ud body, and by identifying what implications this might have for our thinking about\ud organisation. Utilising the conceptualist philosophy of Canguilhem, Foucault and\ud Deleuze, this is done by analysing the concept of "organisation" and the concept of\ud the "body" across organisation theory and related fields.\ud Five ways of dealing with the body are identified: (i) not dealing with it at all, which\ud is mostly the case with mainstream research on formal organisations and more radical\ud research on organisational processes; (ii) reducing the body to an organismic\ud metaphor, which is what much classical and some contemporary mainstream research\ud does; (iii) studying how embodiment enables the successful management of formal\ud organisations; (iv) studying how bodies are organised within and without formal\ud organisations; and (v) studying nonorganisational embodiment, i.e. how bodies\ud disrupt and exist independently of organisation. Whereas the third and fourth themes\ud have been investigated in some organisation theory, little attempt has been made to\ud think about nonorganisational embodiment. Using material in Deleuze, Foucault,\ud feminism and current organisation theory, this thesis appreciates the ways in which\ud bodies disrupt the boundaries of organisation and the ways in which bodies live under\ud the conditions imposed by these boundaries. From this perspective, organisation is\ud less powerful, less stable and more fragile than we often think, and bodies are more\ud powerful, more dynamic and more creative.\ud This conceptualist interest in organisation, nonorganisation and the body gives rise to\ud a theory and philosophy of organisation that might provide the underpinnings of a\ud radical approach to everyday problems of organisation and embodiment, such as\ud aesthetic labour and impression management; virtual organisations; culture,\ud subcultures and resistance at work and in public space; health and safety; and gender,\ud race and sexuality.\ud
  • References (6)

    4.3 L. J. Henderson and the Concept of the System 4.4 Elton Mayo: From the Physiological to the Social Aspects of Work 4.5 Talcott Parsons: A Systems Approach to the Study of Organisations 4.6 Systemic Perspectives in Early Organisation Theory 4.7 The Contemporary Mainstream in Organisation Theory 4.8 The Absent Body in Mainstream Organisation Theory 4.9 Conclusion 5. Organisation Theory and the Production of Organisation 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Karl Weick and the Social Psychology of Organising 5.3 Robert Cooper, the Open Field and Organisation/Disorganisation 5.4 Haridimos Tsoukas, Chaos and Organisation 5.5 Robert Chia's Process Perspective of Organisation 5.6 Conclusion 6. The Body in Feminism, Sociology and Organisation Theory 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Feminism and the Body 6.3 The Sociology of the Body 6.4 The Body and Organisation 6.5 Conclusion: Towards an Organisation Theory of the Body? 7. Nonorganisational Embodiment in Deleuze's Philosophy 7.1 Introduction 7.2 The Virtual 7.3 Deleuze's Spinozism: An Ethological Ethic of Affective Bodies 7.4 Creative Involution and Becoming-Other 7.5 The Body without Organs 7.6 The Nonorganic and the Organic 7.7 Conclusion 8. Conclusion: Monstrous Organisation Theory: Nonorganisation and Embodiment in the Philosophy of Organisation Deleuze, Gilles (1983/1962) Nietzsche and Philosophy. trans. Hugh Tomlinson.

    Deleuze, Gilles (1986/1983) Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. London: Athlone.

    Deleuze, Gilles (1988aJ1966) Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Hammerjam. New York: Zone.

    Deleuze, Gilles (1988bI1981) Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. Robert Hurley.

    Deleuze, Gilles (1988cI1986) Foucault, trans. Sean Hand. London: Athlone.

    Willcocks, Leslie et al. (2000) Moving to E-Business. London: Random House Business Books.

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