Buckle, Obstacles to Consciousness in Corporations

Obstacles to Consciousness in Corporations

Pamela Buckle1

1School of Business, Adelphi University, PO Box 701, Garden City NY, 11530-0701, USA, buckle@adelphi.edu

*Correspondence can be directed to this author.


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, anomalous events, and paradoxical occurrences that emerge in every workplace. However, such behaviours, events, and occurrences reflect a dimension of unintended coherence 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 the mode of human consciousness required for people to make sense of self-organized dynamics in the workplace. Particularly, I examine obstacles to the mode of consciousness that results in managers ignoring or misinterpreting self-organized patterns.

There are many unfortunate consquences of failing to accurately discern unintended organizational coherence. 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 inherent in organizations allows managers to engage in more effective relationships with organizations as the complex, unpredictable entities they are.

Keywords: corporations, self-organization, consciousness, reflexivity