Obstacles to Consciousness in Corporations

Pamela Buckle

Abstract


Managers draw on many information sources to aid in corporate decision making. One source of information usually overlooked is the unintended, self-organized patterning of behaviour that spontaneously emerges in complex human systems.

Typically, managers ignore or misinterpret the unexpected behaviours and paradoxical occurrences that emerge, often repeatedly, in every workplace. However, such behaviours and occurrences reflect a dimension of unintended coherence – of self-organized patterning – within a corporation. Such coherence offers rich insights about previously unrecognized corporate goals, fears, weaknesses, and strengths. When managers fail to discern self-organized patterns in unintended organizational behaviour, such patterns fail to yield the wisdom they otherwise could. In order for managers to make use of this rich information source, they must possess skills in self-organized pattern identification and analysis. Drawing from a grounded theory study of managerial pattern identification and analysis, this article examines forms of evidence of self-organized dynamics that can help people begin to become conscious of these dynamics in the workplace. I also examine obstacles to consciousness of self-organized patterns, that result in managers ignoring or misinterpreting these patterns.

Failing to accurately discern unintended organizational coherence yields unfortunate consequences for corporations. Among them is a fracturing of the systemic relatedness possible between managers and the organizations in which they work. As long as managers fail to understand the language of systemic self-organization, they cannot relate effectively with the organizations in their care. By contrast, learning to discern the unintended coherence that emerges in organizations allows managers to engage in more effective relationships with organizations as the complex entities they are.

Keywords


self-organization; organizations; consciousness; reflexivity

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