Rediscovering Becoming: Insights from an Oriental Perspective on Process Organization Studies

Robert Chia

in Process, Sensemaking, and Organizing

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594566
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595721 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives on Process Organization

Rediscovering Becoming: Insights from an Oriental Perspective on Process Organization Studies

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Process is an ambivalent term. Its use in organizational research and theorizing is widespread. Yet, there are important subtle differences in how the term is understood. Process may be construed either as an epiphenomenon of substantial organizational entities or as a primary condition of reality from which the phenomenon of organization spontaneously emerges. Each perspective gives rise to a different theoretical focus and agenda for the field of organization studies. In this chapter, I explore new avenues for understanding process and organization. I show that the idea of ultimate reality as formless, undifferentiated, and ceaselessly changing has been a basic intuition of the ancient Oriental world since time immemorial; one that remains widespread and influential in shaping contemporary Eastern mentalities and dispositions. I further show how this Oriental metaphysical attitude towards process, flux, and self‐transformation enables us to better appreciate the phenomenon of social organization as essentially the cumulative effect of a stabilizing, simple‐locating, and identity‐creating human impulse. From a process organization perspective then, organization studies ought to be more concerned with analyzing the dominant organizational mentalities involved in structuring social reality than with the analysis of “organizations.”

Keywords: research; process; organization studies; Oriental world; self-transformation; process organization; social reality

Chapter.  10670 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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