Coping with Excess
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Coping with Excess How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Stockholm trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess or overflow. This book explores the ways in which institutions, corporations and individuals define and manage situations of ‘too much’ – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or too many tasks.
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Chapter 1: Changing perspectives on the management of overflow

Orvar Löfgren and Barbara Czarniawska

Extract

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Sweden trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess – with overflow. The phenomenon of overflow opens a rich field for analysing the ways in which people, institutions and corporations define and manage situations of too much – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or tasks. This book takes the reader through a range of diverse social and economic settings which illustrate how overflows are created and dealt with – from corporate settings and public administration offices to everyday routines at home and work. We provide a number of analytical tools and perspectives for understanding the complexities of overflow phenomena, which, although ubiquitous, take a variety of forms and shapes. Our material is drawn from an ongoing interdisciplinary research programme in which management scholars, sociologists, ethnologists and historians are exploring the processes through which overflow becomes a problem or a blessing in various social contexts. In an earlier book from the project (Czarniawska and Löfgren, 2012), we made a first mapping of the research territory. This volume takes the analysis into new territories. The 14 chapters which follow provide a rich comparative platform, allowing us to develop a more general understanding of the complex dynamics involved. To begin, there is the question of how, why and when overflow is charged with negative or positive connotations.

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